Nexus users face new biometric scanning kiosks at Vancouver International Airport

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Vancouver International Airport will be the first in Canada to use facial recognition kiosks. John Hua explains how they work, and why not everyone is happy about it. – Nov 4, 2019

The cost of pre-clearance has gone up.

Before, Nexus users could get by scanning their fingerprints and a retina. Now, the Canada Border Services Agency needs the entire face.

The CBSA said it was time to replace the aging retina scanners and that using kiosks with facial biometric technology would better align with global trends.

READ MORE: Most Britons oppose police use of facial recognition tech: poll

Vancouver International Airport was the first to get the new kiosks on October 18, with a full national rollout at other Canadian terminals planned over the following months.

Nexus holder Tyra Bermudez told Global News she was fine with the change if it meant added convenience.

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“If it’s quicker or more efficient why not?” She asked.

But the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association’s (BCCLA) Meghan McDermott is warning travellers not to take the CBSA’s reasons at face value.

“I think this is the edge of the wedge and it will lead to more and more surveillance,” she said.

READ MORE: Facebook denies that ’10 year challenge’ is a ploy to collect facial recognition data

McDermott also points to the difference between retinal and facial scans and the ease of the latter being the foundation of a global surveillance network.

“We see that the U.S. and also China are going very, very strong with the facial recognition surveillance,” McDermott added. “I suspect this is the Canadian government’s way to play along with that game.”

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McDermott also raised concerns about the oversight and responsibility of the CBSA to be the gatekeepers and guardians of this information.

“They really lack transparency, accountability and due process,” she said.

READ MORE: Say cheese: U.S. airports plan to scan your face at security, bag check and boarding

Global News request an interview with the CBSA but the agency declined.

Nexus users must bring their passports with them the next time they fly into Vancouver. They will need to scan their passport photo into the new kiosks as an initial process.

The BC Civil Liberties Association wants to remind people that while Nexus does offer the convenience of pre-clearance, anyone who is uncomfortable with the new facial recognition system can simply opt-out.


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