More facial recognition cameras coming to airports

The government approved a new package of security measures

More cameras with facial recognition capabilities and a system to check license plates are among the new security measures coming to international airports in the Czech Republic. The measures were approved by the government, according to a statement on the Interior Ministry website. No legislative changes are needed to implement the measures.

These steps will make it easier to monitor people in an around airports, the ministry said. The measures should cost some Kč 672 million.

Václav Havel Airport Prague will be equipped with another 145 special face recognition cameras that can instantly compare the captured face with a database of suspects and known criminals. This system will also be complemented by another 30 surveillance cameras.

There are already facial recognition cameras at the airport. The new measure will simply increase the number.

The devices will be located in the transit area to guard the aircraft boarding zones, in the corridors of the airport terminals and the connecting areas. The estimated cost of the measures and associated technology is about Kč 87 million and will be paid for by the Interior Ministry.

Daily Hospodářské noviny reported that a14-member unit from the state's anti-organized crime unit would be assigned to Václav Havel Airport to check data provided by air carriers to find suspected terrorists and other criminals. The number of officers is set to increase.

The country has several other international airports including Brno-Tuřany, Karlovy Vary, Pardubice and Ostrava.

Planned measures at other international airports include the modernization of the camera systems with facial recognition technology. There will also be a system for recognizing car license plates to monitor cars moving around the airport.

Readers for documents and boarding passes should also appear. These will help monitor the entry of passengers into nonpublic and transit areas of the airport. The total cost of the measures is about Kč 585 million and the Ministry's budget will amount cover about Kč 482 million. Václav Havel Airport already has some of these measures in place.

The proposed measures and system adjustments to improve airport safety do not require any legislative changes. These are standard investments in technical means that are or will be managed by the state's security forces, the ministry website said.

The security measures won't only protect against potential terrorists but will also be useful in catching drug smugglers and people trafficking in endangered species, according to security experts.

Critics are concerned that the technology and the databases can be hacked, which would violate people's privacy by exposing their personal data.

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