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The Newest In Airport Security

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Frequent travellers and residents in London already love it: the iris scanner that awaits you for checking your identity upon entering the United Kingdom. The system aptly called IRIS (which stands for “iris recognition immigration system”) is very popular there and certainly makes immigration procedures a lot quicker. Now IATA, the International Air Transport Association unveiled a new technology at their annual meeting this week which could cut the time it takes to clear security checks at airports from the current 35-minute average down to seconds while it also dramatically improves security.

This is far from the first time iris scans have been considered in the airport screening process. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security launched a pilot program that used iris scans at the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas. Billed as a faster alternative to fingerprinting, the iris scanner checked the immigration status of detainees and stored the information in a database.

The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the federal government dipping into this territory. „If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there's a camera and access to the Internet,“ ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese told USA Today.

An iris scan matches you to a chip in your passport or identification card and also assigns a security-risk level that determines which of the three portals you’ll enter-”known traveller,” normal security, or enhanced security. Depending on your security level, a series of x-rays would then analyze your body and your luggage contents while you walk through a long tunnel. Travelers in the high-risk tunnel would be subject to a more aggressive, full-body scan that checks for for explosives and liquids.

Different to the system in London which is only used to identify a person for their eligibility to enter the country, the newly proposed system can substitute today’s sometimes excruciating and time consuming departure security checks. IATA Director General Giovanni even brought human rights into the conversation. ”Passengers should be able to get from curb to boarding gate with dignity,” Bisignani told the Associated Press. “That means without stopping, stripping or unpacking, and certainly not groping.”

According to the same Atlantic Wire report a pilot program using the new “Checkpoints of the Future” is expected to be introduced within a year. Let’s start counting down the days then as we surely can’t wait for this much needed improvement!“


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