Customs Red faced about Biometric bungle

Discussion in 'Travel News' started by ethernet, Jun 11, 2007.

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  1. ethernet

    ethernet Active Member

    Aug 10, 2006
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    Smartgate problems and system Integration issues with fragile technology.
    Link to article below.

    No real technical details, and no details about the projects ballooning cost, or how any crook wearing a bad wig can leave the country. Perhaps it is trying to transfer uncompressed photos, and not tokens.

    Dont know who's paying for it, but the trial of flawed biometric facial scans to passport chips is being ramped up. The Smartgates 'failure' or false positive rate is still way too high, and discriminates against the disabled, but someone obviously bought it on looks and promise, not performance.

    Spin article of shallow journalism is here:
    Face recognition set for takeoff in Australia | CNET News.com

    Reality is here:
    Face Recognition Flunks
    Face recognition technology a proven farce | The Register
    Anti-terror face recognition system flunks tests | The Register
    False Positives: Schneier on Security: Heathrow Tests Biometric ID
    Passport Cracked
    Schneier on Security: UK RFID Passport Cracked
    Questionable Technology
    ePolitix.com - Trial raises questions over biometric technology
     

  2. Mal

    Mal Enthusiast

    Dec 25, 2004
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    You do realise you are quoting some 2-6 year old articles in your post? Technology has changed since then...

    Bruce Schneier is ok, but does tend to be a bit interesting in his comments at times.

    I have previously wondered how Smartgate series (whatever) will correctly detect people in the new trial they're about to have, but will leave it to Customs to sort out ;)

    Image recognition technology is actually pretty good these days and getting better. Remember you're doing a 1 on 1 comparison, not a 1 to many comparison. Much easier to get a positive comparison.

    (oh and a crook wearing a bad wig (or a minister's kit) can still leave the country if he wants... If the passport is flagged by Immigration , then no biometric system would let him leave. If it's not flagged, then Immigration nor an automated machine is unlikely to detect the person as a person who shouldn't leave)
     
  3. serfty

    Moderator

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    It works really well for me. I am still on the trial. Just glad that they have kept those original ones in MEL & SYD.

    Occasionally it fails to 'recognise' me; I simply retry and have a 100% success rate. (20+)
     
  4. kyle

    kyle Active Member

    Mar 8, 2006
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    When I came back to MEL from NZ, I used the Smartgate channel (only 3 ppl waiting) when there were like 50 ppl waiting at the regular queue.

    And I wasn't even on the trial. So maybe it's actually open to the public with a chipped passport?
     
  5. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
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    I think i might have made the same mistake in Melbourne, I didn't realise that we had to be on a trial. :oops: I'm sure the sign just said anyone with an e-passport or am I confused. :shock: Similar to kyle, there was a line of 50-100 people in the other passport lane and about 5 in the e-passport lane. We both have the new chipped passports and had no problems and the customs guy who ticked our immigration card didn't say anything. It didn't recognise my old man until he took his glasses off either. :rolleyes:
     
  6. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    Is he Clark Kent/Superman? If so then the smartgate might be smarter than we believe ;)

    I knew not long ago that this had been debated with similar reference to older articles - here
     
  7. kyle

    kyle Active Member

    Mar 8, 2006
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    I was sure the word 'trial' didnt appear on the sign. I looked at it before joining that short queue.
     
  8. Evan

    Evan Established Member

    Dec 26, 2006
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    Correct, its no longer a trial, if you have one of the new passports with the chip, go ahead and use it.
    I have used it a few times, couple of times it did not work but last couple of times its been first go and i am through.

    E
     
  9. ethernet

    ethernet Active Member

    Aug 10, 2006
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    To answer some of Mals questions (and a gold star, top of class for pointing out the new fangled system will NOT authenticate persons, but merely authenticate face with credentials).

    The biometric conference would have showed voice recognition superior, but at a noisy airport, all bets are off.
    Iris scans, well that is a disaster, and slow, so they did good to avoid that lemon.
    Face Scans. Subject to lighting, good for men, no so good for women with makeup, plus a smaller face can be built up, hollywood style by the pros.
    The camera should ideally scan whole body and approximate body mass and height, otherwise, face scans alone are not so good. I don't hear then crowing that it is over 98% accurate - that is a concern.
    Fingerprints. Well Mythbusters busted that one.
    Human old fashioned way; Clear winner, except for concentration lapses.

    Now lets examine cost efficiency or how it could be.

    Customs knows, in advance who and when people land, or booked to depart. They know who should have electronic passports, and have a 'risk score' for that person. They have the original color mugshots, and could cache those in advance. Looks like they did an 'on demand' system, rather than batch pre-processing.

    You could say, just swipe your passport, and the machine say, yep, I was expecting you and give you a number, and a barcode slip.
    As you walk up to the counter you wave your slip at the reader, and the LCD instantly flashes your picture, or that of your family/group. Said human then does the compare, and waves you through.

    This alternative high tech, but without face scanners, would probably be faster cheaper easier and more personalised, than paying some foreign company $5 per pax for overpriced software licences etc. They are very coy on disclosing costs or what gets padded on to your ticket cost in 'taxes'. All the fragile interfaces means more components, and more things to break.

    So overall, Customs should be commended for being pretty upfront about things, and not saying anything overly frank that may upset its prime vendors.

    The inefficient scanner design also has a physical component - collecting photos for after the fact analysis, and trapping baddies - if they want to, with walls of pop up perspex, which really makes costs go ballistc.

    However, as people are unaware of its face scan going live, not trials, perhaps their PR people should be red faced.

    Finally it is all about security theatre. If 100 people are in a line, and only 5 in the electronic, of course it will get rave reviews. But wait for lady who had a facelift or nose job, or orthodontics, make your day. Who knows, maybe sometimes, there is no face scan, just a picture , and based on risk assessment, an automatic pass. That would bump up perceptions. Downgrading scope and quality, is the hallmark of ICT nowadays.
     
  10. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    How is this different to todays process - I cant imagine this being much faster - and potentially creates two lanes of queues and two points fo people to get confused or not understand what they should be doing...
     
  11. serfty

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    The Smartgate for ePassport holders became active in MEL around October last year.

    The Trial smartgate again worked fine for me last evening. :cool:
     
  12. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

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    Ditto for me about 10 days ago. Thankfully. With TG, MH, EK & QF all in at around the same time there were massive queues out past Downtown DF for regular immigration, 10-15 people in queue for ePassport holders smargate, and no queue for the Trial Smartgate. Wonderful!
     
  13. littl_flier

    littl_flier Active Member

    May 1, 2007
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    Perhaps the smartgate hasn't been well enough publicised and its only the FF's that know how and what it is. There surely has to be more than just a few people who have e-passports?
     
  14. simongr

    simongr Enthusiast

    Jul 10, 2006
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    I had a few minutes to read these articles over lunch today and have a few comments:


    Face Recognition Flunks
    Face recognition technology a proven farce | The Register

    - 2002 Article refers to spotting terrorists in a crowd. No mention made of immigration type checks. Interesting how the Register uses a reference to an article regarding the lack of a requirement for a high school education for r screeners. Nt sure how thtat is relevant and unbiased journalism

    Anti-terror face recognition system flunks tests | The Register

    2003 Article refers AGAIN to crowd recognition systems. INterestingly the bit not referenced in your comment was:

    "By contrast, early results of a facial biometric system by Grampian police in Scotland demonstrated the value of using facial biometrics to identify suspects in a police custody suite.

    To me that would be more akin to an immigration check wouldnt it and it seems to work.

    Schneier on Security: Heathrow Tests Biometric ID

    -Interesting 2006 article identifying how biometrics do work in some situations - where it is difficult to fake the test (i.e. using false eyeballs, decapitated hands etc.) seems to advocate them. There are plenty of comments after the article objecting on privacy grounds but that is not a criticism of the technology.

    Passport Cracked
    Schneier on Security: UK RFID Passport Cracked

    - Maybe iI am missing the underlying artcle. All I see is a comment that UK RFID passports have been cracked and all thr problems that crerates. Sheesh, I guess we had better go back to the old style passports as they are much mre secure and more difficult to forge :rolleyes:

    Questionable Technology
    ePolitix.com - Trial raises questions over biometric technology[/QUOTE]

    OK - so finally a relevant article if it was less than two years old related to the scheme in place in Australia. This is a scheme in the UK I believe. Do the Oz customs/immigration systems use teh same software and hardware and is it at least two years old without any updates?

    It would be great if you could give us an article that was say 6-12 months old, related to the Australian planned systems and had a bit of substance.
     
  15. serfty

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    In MEL last night, there was an agent checking the PP's of people arriving at the Oz/NZ area and directing those who had ePassports to the Smartgate queue.
     
  16. dajop

    dajop Senior Member

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    As far as I could work out (&IIRC) there are two machines, a newer one for e-passports and an older one that works for non e-passports - ie. the machine that was there for the trial of smartgate for platinum (& gold?) frequent flyers. The newer machine had a queue of about 10-15 in it, so I just bypassed it and went to the machine that I've always used (with my old style passport). Don't know if the older machine works on e-passports or not.
     
  17. Mr_Gimlet

    Mr_Gimlet Member

    Jun 18, 2006
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    Yeah, I have an e-passport. At the start of the month, I asked the Immi guy if I should use the empty queue and it wasn't working. Was working fine a couple of weeks ago, I asked if I could use it and they said yes. Guy doing the queue monitoring ticked my Customs card.
     
  18. JohnK

    JohnK Veteran Member

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    How does one go about getting a stamp in the passport when going through Smartgate or something similar?
     
  19. serfty

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    #19 serfty, Jun 13, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2007
    One Doesn't!

    Last night (~6pm) using Smartgate saved ~15 minutes.

    FWIW, I have had only one stamp upon arriving in Oz in the last 8½ years; this represents over 30 visits to counties other than NZ. For NZ I have had at least 15 visits, Kiwi officials do not normally stamp Oz PPs on entry). Even going through the normal channels you generally need to ask for one.
     
  20. Mr_Gimlet

    Mr_Gimlet Member

    Jun 18, 2006
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    I suppose you'd just ask for it. Why would you want one?
     
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