What’s the news: Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, launched Facial Recognition Technology (FRT)-based Digi Yatra from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi on December 1, 2022 as per a press release. Three airports across India, namely New Delhi, Varanasi and Bengaluru will now scan people’s faces at the establishment’s entry to achieve Digi Yatra’s stated goal of “contactless, seamless processing of passengers” using FRT. Why it matters: Often when discussing incidents related to FRT, we have pointed out how government agencies and companies globally are eager to use the biometric authentication system. Digi Yatra’s use of FRT has been a long time coming—since 2018. Yet the privacy concerns around Digi Yatra have remained more or less the same. Even a recent NITI Aayog report stressed the need to keep in mind privacy and transparency when deploying these systems. What is Digi Yatra: As per the government document released in 2018, “Digi Yatra” is a programme that looks to create “a seamless, hassle-free and paperless journey experience” for travellers in India. It uses Identity Management and FRT to verify passenger’s credentials and create a digital identity. The main thrust of the government in implementing this concept was to “minimise human involvement,” “simplify passenger processes at various check points” like terminal entry gate, check-in/ bag drop, security check, and boarding gates. MediaNama’s take: Since its introduction, many entities including MediaNama have voiced their doubts. It pointed out that the problem of fake tickets or fake identification cannot be eliminated while…
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