Feeds

UK border facial scan tests hit by errors and breakdowns

Calibration, reliability and tailgating issues

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A trial of automated border control using facial scanners is already in trouble, according to UK Border Agency (UKBA) sources quoted by the Daily Telegraph.

The scanners at Manchester airport, said one source, are breaking down on almost a daily basis, and the automatic booths are unable to detect 'tailgating', where two people go through on one passport.

Immigration officers have been able to sneak through behind passengers (which must be a bit disturbing for the passengers) without an alarm going off, and "when one breaks down, they all break down," said the source.

In addition, the Telegraph confirms Register sources who claimed in August that the system had been recalibrated immediately before the trial began because it was rejecting too many individuals. The paper claims that prior to this point the system was rejecting up to 30 per cent, but lowering the false rejection rate means at the same time an increase in the false acceptance rate - meaning that the late switch may well have compromised the security of the system.

Tailgating is not necessarily an issue, although it may become so as and when automated gates are live at more ports, and when ePassports are a higher proportion of the total in use. According to the Home Office, automated border controls using facial - and in the next ePassport generation, fingerprint - scanners will always be overseen by human immigration officers who will be able to spot passengers trying to subvert the system. When most passengers are using the gates, however, supervision will become harder, and a tailgating alarm that actually works will become more important.

Should the machinery prove unreliable and/or the false acceptance rate too high, UKBA will be placed in a tricky position. It has for some time now been proudly boasting of "tough new border checks" in immigration that make the queues "a little" longer, but the intention is for these queues to automagically decline without the need to hire more staff, as border control gets automated. So if they don't, then the entire cunning plan is in trouble.

But actually that might not be such a big issue, if you viewed it as a choice between switching back to soft old border checks that let the terrorists in, or modern badly calibrated automated border checks that let the terrorists in. Might need to spin these a bit, though... ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?