back to article Cardiff Airport gets more security theatre

Cardiff Airport is joining Manchester in using facial recognition technology to automate passport checks for inbound passengers. Anyone over 18 with a biometric passport issued since 2006 can choose to have their face scanned, matched to the picture held on a chip on their passport and, assuming there's a match, be allowed in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Evil overlords at ICAO at it again.

    "The gates have been independently verified by the International Commercial Aviation Organisation (ICAO) who set the standards for machine-readable travel documents."

    That merely means the icao looked at the RFID-reading part of the machinery, not the facial recognition part, because I don't think they have standards for that yet. That'll be the day though. Not a standard face? No admission!

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge


    If I looked like my passport photo, I'd want to go to hospital - not the airport.

  3. Adam Wheeler


    Birmingham also has these gates.

    They aren't the quickest at processing your though.

    If you're lucky enough to be first off the plane, with an empty immigrations hall, then I'd opt to go to a human being !!

  4. The Original Ash

    Bloody hell...

    I guess this is a "I can't tell! Do not pass Go." false positive instead of a "Ah, you have a beard now! And a bigger nose, different hair, and breasts, but it's still you! On you pop, Mr Anne Widercombe!" false positive.

    Still, best to throw the system out all together, eh?

  5. Microdot


    has been trialling these for quite a while now but they never get a mention!

  6. Scott 19
    Thumb Down


    My photo was taken 9 yars ago when i was 15 and i can tell you now i do not look like that anymore, for a start i've lost an eye.

  7. Niall 1

    As long it keeps Winona out.

    She is a convicted felon, whereas I don't think Osama bin Laden is, so he's ok.

  8. Ben Brandwood


    They've got these at Stansted and actually seemed to work OK, I'd say 80% of the times that I've been they worked first time.

    Much better than the IRIS scheme at Manchester/Heathrow which while it always eventually let you through, it took up to three scans - quite slow ones at that. Though towards the end they seemed to have upgraded them as scan time was quicker.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can see why they want to automate things here in Cardiff. It often gets very crowded, I remember when there was another passenger flying at the same time as me. It was a right queue I tell you. Not to mention the check in guy had baggage to handle from the other flight coming in that day. I can see this system saving a lot of time.

  10. lukewarmdog

    I'll verify that for a dollar

    "The gates have been independently verified by the International Commercial Aviation Organisation (ICAO) who set the standards for machine-readable travel documents."

    Maybe they should have had them verified by someone who actually knew what they were doing? I should just point out that faces are not machine-readable travel documents despite the phrase "a well travelled face".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Old face, Old fart

    When I was 24 I used a photograph of myself at 18 on my passport (I was skint at the time and thought "B***ocks, this'll do")

    I'm now 32 and needless to say, 14 years since the pic was taken, I look NOTHING like my mug shot. I honestly look like I've stolen a young boys passport.

    But this doesn't seem to bother passport control all over Europe who don't give it a second glance.

    I must have an honest face, under the many facial scars I have acquired since the photo was taken.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Cardiff Airport

    Great, coupled with the recent rebranding all the airport needs now is to attract some big carriers, increase foreign destinations, and improve upon the current single-carriageway transport link. Perhaps then we'll be able to see this tech in action :)

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  14. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    30% recognition ? Sounds good.

    So it's unable to tell the difference between Mel Gibson and Gordon Brown? Thats' pretty good as I'm frequently unable to tell the difference between an huge ar5ehoole and Gordon Brown either.

    I for one welcome our blind machine overlords......

  15. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton


    "We will not give the error rates or technical specifications of the gates for commercial and security reasons."

    These are not the droids you're looking for.

    (Paris, because she _is_ the droids I'm looking for.)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These machines are awesome

    I used one recently in Manchester - they were doubly manned - one guy to feed your passport in for you (and presumably do a sneaky check of the picture), and then a guy who gave a cursory glance after the machine - and they worked fine first time.

    As I disembarked the plane and saw the massive queue at conventional customs, this sparsely used method got me through customs in mere moments, making the end of 20hrs of travelling a lot less painful than it otherwise would have been.

    I don't care if someone the exact opposite of me - say, a black guy with a small penis and no muscles - could get through on my passport. It got me home probably 30minutes quicker than waiting to be looked as suspiciously by a customs officer.

  17. D Moss Esq


    "SmartGate can be used at Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne and Perth international airports for arriving travellers. SmartGate kiosks are also located at Auckland Airport enabling eligible travellers to complete the first step of their entry process into Australia before they leave New Zealand."

    That's what it says on the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service website,

    How long before Kevin Rudd, flanked by sobbing taxpayers, has to look into the cameras and apologise for another (rare) mistake?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Too tall

    The system failed with a Dutch friend of mine this week because he was too tall - it appears that the camera can't swivel high enough for anyone over 6' 6"

  19. D Moss Esq

    The Adventures of Marsham Towers

    Professor Homer slumped into her armchair in the staff room. It had been a long day and she needed a drink.

    Three hours she'd spent at the funny farm, talking to Woolas and his doctors. The poor man was convinced that Joanna Lumley was stalking him.

    The doctors said one more appearance on Newsnight like last week's could send him over the edge completely. Then who would the Agency get to front for them? Meg Hilier? Oh God! Time for another drink.

    If only they could track down the wretched Lumley woman and bring her into custody. But she kept a very low profile, hardly ever appearing on the television or in the papers or on radio or the stage or film sets or pantomimes or country fairs and the only picture they had of her was from 30 years ago, in The Avengers. The useless face recognition technology couldn't work with anything more than five minutes old. These Muggles are good at shape-shifting.

    She reached forward to pick up a copy of Border Protection Magic just as someone else took it off the coffee table. She looked up. "Who are you?", she said, noticing for the first time Professor Lahood, the new Director of Identity Management at the Agency.

    "I'm Alex Lahood, the new Director of Identity Management at the Agency. Sorry, would you like to read the paper first?"

    "No, it's alright, I just thought I'd see if there's anything on this latest cock-up in Australia. My poor unfortunate colleagues over there seem to have gone mad and installed MagicGates for border protection."

    Lahood blushed. How could he tell her?

    "Ma'am", he finally stammered, "as a matter of fact, so have we. As Director of Identity Management, I have authorised the use of MagicGates at 10 UK airports now. We should be able to fire all the staff and save a fortune."

    He never knew what hit him.

    Professor Homer was famous for decisive action.

    Before being translated into an Identity Manager, Lahood's experience had been entirely in the field of alcohol abuse. He was actually promoted by mistake. A mistake which Professor Homer rectified with a flick of her wand.

    Moments later, he was the latest wart on Nellie the hog, the chief attraction at the Agency's children's farm, and Professor Homer was racing through the corridors of power to find the headmaster, Professor Normington. What on earth was going on? She wanted answers ...

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