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Japan testing automatic passport control gates

37 Comments

Japan on Monday began testing unmanned passport control gates using facial recognition technology in its airports.

The Ministry of Justice says that the gates can take a photograph of a face and compare it to a passport photograph to ascertain whether or not it is the same individual within 15 seconds.

The ministry says the technology is currently being improved to recognize faces with greater accuracy, with the eventual aim of rolling out the technology nationwide, TV Asahi reported. It is claimed that the technology has been developed with the aim of speeding up the passport control process.

The machines are currently being tested at Narita and Haneda Airports on Japanese nationals who hold passports containing IC chips, in an attempt to ascertain whether or not the machine can recognize vacationers who return to Japan with suntanned skin.

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37 Comments
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how does suntanned skin change the facial structure for facial recognition???? i am no CSI but that sounds a little wacky to me. although i did read that big smiles, etc. can hamper the program.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How long until every surveillance camera in the country is outfitted with this system? Including those at the train stations, in elevators etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How long until every surveillance camera in the country is outfitted with this system? Including those at the train stations, in elevators etc.

What makes you think this technology is not being used already? It is but what have you got to worry about? I don't worry about it or even care but if helps catch a criminal then I'm all for it. I'm not a criminal so nobody is interested in my face.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Harry_Gatto is right at first, there is no reason to assume facial recognition is not being used already. There are enough Japanese companies working on it to fill a whole section in tech expos.

However, claiming that "only criminals have reason to be afraid" is misleading and false. What are the rules for handling this information? Who is monitoring it's use? Who decides if, when and into what those rules will be changed later?

Any right you give up now, you give up forever. Your children will never regain that right. They are going to ask why, and they will know it was you.

I'm not hiding anything - I'm protecting.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

A system like this has been used for some time already in the UK and some other countries. Personally I'm registered for the UK's slightly older retina-scan system but I'll be using the facial biometric version from December. If they permit overseas residents in Japan to use this system I'll register for it without any qualms.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Privacy is not a matter of having something to hide or not, it's a matter of dignity.

When I use the toilet I'm not doing anything criminal, but that doesn't mean that I would permit a camera to monitor me. As a matter of dignity, people have a problem with their movements and whereabouts being tracked by the authorities.

There's no need to treat innocent people as if they're on probation.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Never: I don't remember reading that they are going to watch you doing your things, but certainly they will know when you entered the toilet, when you left, where you came from and where you headed for. We may cry and protest, but this technology will be in use before we know that our faces are already registered in some data base.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No way they would ever allow foreigners to use automated gates due to immigration risks...gaijin will be excepted if this ever gets rolled out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the gates can take a photograph of a face and compare it to a passport photograph to ascertain whether or not it is the same individual within 15 seconds.

Wonderful. But a human being could do it in two seconds.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@marcelito - foreigners can use the current automated gates in Narita now, it's just that they are always manned by Immigration officials to help people use it! Pointless!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What information are you trying to protect that they already dont have recorded in your passport? The Japanese system attempts to match your face with the photo already embedded into to your passport.

Retina recognition is used by Canada NEXUS and Korea's SmartEntry lanes. US uses just fingerprints for registered travers as part of the GlobalEntry system.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is the greatest use of technology in airport security to be develop since 9/11. Any improvement to decrease the time for citizens or non-citizens leaving a country or entering a country is greatly needed and appreciated. Why should a former teacher who took students to Europe every summer for 30 years have to be subjected to long delays? The governments share information and already know every county he or she has been in and know that he or she is no threat. Anyone who does not want to go through the fast lane is welcomed to stand in lines for hours just to have someone rummage through the under clothing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They have this kind of gate at London Heathrow and it works fantastically well. It's very fast and easy. I'm all for it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm not a criminal so nobody is interested in my face.

You're not a criminal until some government decides that posting comments on 'suspicious' news sites or visiting certain countries is a crime, then you will be a criminal. And yes, it will happen, if history is any indication.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

scary

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Badge213, all that data has been in my skin a lot longer than that. As I clearly expressed, I am not complaining that the data is in that chip. It has already made my life at European airports a lot easier.

What I'm protecting is my right to keep it away from any other surveillance database that is not absolutely necessary (the "need" defined openly and truthfully) to identify me at airports only and the security of air travel. Japan's poor ethics combined with poor understanding of network security against inside abusers and outside hackers makes this a human rights violation waiting to happen. Then again, this is Japan, who's going to notice many more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

How about people who had face lifts or nose jobs?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Or bigger lips

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If you don't like it, then don't register to participate in these automatic/frequent traveler systems. I'm a member of the US system global entry, had to submit fingerprints, background info and do an interview to get it, saved me 1 hour waiting at JFK my last trip. I voluntarily registered for it. I don' t have to and I could stand 1 hour in line too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How about people who had face lifts or nose jobs?

Facial recognition systems detect bone structure which doesn't change even if you grow wrinkles, or get rid of wrinkles etc.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If these systems are already in use successfully in foreign countries, why doesn't Japan just procure the systems from abroad instead of going through the lengthy and costly process of developing its own system? Would be cheaper for us taxpayers, and faster.

News likes this makes me understand why Japan is the world's most indebted industrialized country.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Not withstanding the technology is being tested for Japanese passport holders only.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I just from Narita to Finland, and they are using these things in Helsinki airport. There, they work great. But somehow I trust the Japanese authorities to add so many gimmicks to the machines that they take just as long or longer as the current immigration guy does...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Another step into the orwellian nightmare that is our future .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There will be a LOT of mistakes in the first while, and I have no doubt they'll have immigration officers there to check on how it's going (making the exercise pointless), but in the end it'll probably speed things up.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

No thanks

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When I use the toilet I'm not doing anything criminal, but that doesn't mean that I would permit a camera to monitor me.

Toilet use is not an international security issue. Bad analogy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hehehehehe I am just wondering why there are so many negative comments and critics and so and so with the Japanese INS trying to ease passengers passport control in entering Japan. Even cameras inside the toilets being mention geeezzzz. Let Japan do in their own way. It's their country anyway.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let Japan do in their own way. It's their country anyway.

I pay plenty of taxes to the Japanese government. As long as I have a financial stake in this country, I will have an opinion on the way things are run...and on the way the Japanese govt is spending my money.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Toilet use is not an international security issue.

Depends on what the user had to eat beforehand.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The Ministry of Justice says that the gates can take a photograph of a face and compare it to a passport photograph to ascertain whether or not it is the same individual within 15 seconds.

Unless I am mistaken, it takes a person about a second to ascertain whether a photograph and an individual are the same. I prefer the human.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hatsoff, is that the Heathrow IRIS detection system that is regularly out of order, and at quiet times is actually slower than the manual lanes (it's quite embarrassing being stuck there!).

Such is LHR's lack of confidence in the system that It restricts IRIS system registration to frequent flyers only.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We have smart gates in NZ which I used last year when I went home. Very easy to use and didnt have to wait in line. This time around will be different as I have two littlies with me and will have to line up (only over 18 yo NZers can use the smart gates).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@SenseNotSoCommon: in the UK there's IRIS (an eye scanner) and a separate, newer, facial biometric scanner. It's the whole-face scanner type that I think JP immigration are trialling.

IRIS was way faster for me last O-bon, where it saved me a 2 hour wait (no, I'm not making that up!). However, many people had trouble with it, and it is a bit tricky sometimes to get your head/eye position just right in front of the scanner. Quite a few people backed out of the gate in a state of some annoyance.

Also, as you quite correctly point out, it is/was often unavailable. The real reason they restricted its use is because the system capacity was not specified for the number of people who tried to use it. Whether that's processing or DB storage I'm not completely sure. Basically it was unexpectedly popular, which caused problems, and as mentioned above is a bit finicky to use. The whole-facial method was then seen as a much better choice, so they decided to retire IRIS.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't see the usefulness of this.... The picture will always match but is the passport real?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If it takes 15 seconds right now, then next year it will probably take 8, then the year after it will probably take 4. Sooner or later it's going to be faster than a human.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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