German minister seeks facial recognition at airports, train stations

Backpack ban for Oktoberfest beer bash

Germany's interior minister Thomas de Maiziere wants facial recognition systems in the country's airports and train stations to identify terror suspects.

Europe has experienced a wave of attacks, many terror-related, over recent months, which has in turn triggered a heightened state of security.

De Maiziere told the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag he wants a system to match against intelligence databases of known terror suspects, something the country has resisted.

"There are opportunity for individuals to photograph someone and use facial recognition software on the internet to find out if they have seen a celebrity or a politician," De Maiziere says.

"I want to use such face recognition software on video cameras at airports and train stations.

"Then the system will show if a suspect is detected."

De Maiziere cites video surveillance systems in place in German airports that detect luggage unclaimed after a set time.

"The authorities must use technology they are legally allowed to use," he says.

The Interior Minister also told the newspaper he is in favour of a ban on backpacks at some festivals. Authorities have already banned backpacks at Munich's upcoming Oktoberfest beer bash, implementing regular ID and security checks and extra fencing.

De Maiziere says the controls restrict personal freedoms less than cancelling public events for security reasons. ®

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