International high-speed rail service Eurostar is testing new biometric facial recognition technology on passengers travelling from London’s St Pancras International station to mainland Europe.
Passengers will now be able to check their tickets and passports using the “Smartcheck lane” the new biometric system.
Passengers who choose the SmartCheck lane are allowed to board the train without going through lengthy and lengthy ID checks.
The system has two face scans, one at the ticket counter to go through ticket control and one at the U.K. Exit Checkpoint, for confirmation of passport validity.
Eurostar intends to eliminate long queues and speed up the boarding process, leading not only to happier passengers, but also to health benefits, as the Covid 19 pandemic is far from over.
The system will undergo several tests with a small number of loaded passengers and will not include any of the U.K.’s or Schengen entry controls.
Eurostar has introduced its facial recognition system to replace physical tickets and passport checks with the help of iProov, a company that has spearheaded “passive authentication,” which refers to facial recognition without the user having to do anything.
The user agrees to the platform by logging into an online portal that also takes a picture of his face with a smartphone or webcam.
When reaching a physical checkpoint, the system easily authenticates them by simply facing a camera.
Of course, this kind of biometric surveillance is a concern for privacy advocates.
These technologies pose a significant risk to people’s privacy, as facial scans or timestamps can leak, repressive governments abuse their ability to track citizens, or authorities and private entities receive information through insecure data-sharing channels.
In October this year, Moscow became the first city to fully implement facial recognition in its railway networks through the ‘Face Pay’ service on its 240 metro stations.
The US faces a similar situation, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deploying facial recognition systems extensively at all entry points and the federal government expanding its use where appropriate.