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6th January 2024 (12 Topics)

Digi Yatra Initiative Faces Controversy as Airport Staff Enroll Passengers Without Consent

Context

The Digi Yatra initiative, aimed at digitizing and streamlining passenger processing at airports through facial recognition, has come under scrutiny as reports reveal instances of passengers being enrolled without their knowledge or consent.

Background

  • The Digi Yatra initiative promotes paperless and seamless travel through airports.
  • The process involves passengers scanning their boarding passes and faces at the entry point, creating a biometric face token for subsequent checkpoints.
  • However, recent incidents indicate that private airport staff and security personnel are actively enrolling passengers without obtaining informed consent.
  • This controversial practice, observed at various Indian airports, has raised concerns about privacy infringement and data security.

About Digi Yatra:

  • The Digi Yatra Foundation, a not-for-profit entity with shareholders including the Airports Authority of India and private airports, aims to enhance operational efficiency and security.
  • By enabling passengers to navigate checkpoints effortlessly, the initiative seeks to reduce congestion, lower operational costs, and improve security standards.
  • Initially launched at three airports in December 2022, the Digi Yatra initiative has expanded to 11 airports, with plans for further expansion to 14 more in the coming months.
  • The project receives funding from the airports rather than the government.

Recent Controversy :

  • Instances where airport staff collected facial biometrics without explicit consent.
  • The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) denies involvement, leading to contradictory statements from airport officials.
  • Concerns about data security and privacy violations persist, especially in light of past large-scale data breaches in India.
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