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UK plots facial recognition tech for “contactless” border crossings

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The UK is working on facial recognition technology for border screening, under a broader effort dubbed “Permission to Travel.”

The idea is to have contactless border screening.

Once the technology is implemented, people traveling to the UK, including those from EU countries, will be required to upload a selfie on the Home Office’s website. On arrival at a border checkpoint, their face will be scanned for identity verification. The technology eliminates the need to interact with a border officer but raises new privacy concerns.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that she has, “been focused on taking back control of our immigration system through my New Plan for Immigration.”

“This includes ensuring we have a border that is fit for the 21st century, which allows travelers to get a visa and pass through the border easily while maintaining national security,” she added.

The UK will test the system next March, starting with visitors from the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.

The news of the new border control plan comes after it was revealed that the UK agreed to demands from the US for more access to the biometric data of Britons traveling to the US. The US is making similar demands to EU members, under a scheme dubbed the “Enhanced Border Security Partnership.” On its part, the EU is asking members to implement biometric border screening systems.

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