back to article Yes, Singapore immigration plans to scan your face instead of your passport

Last week the internet was abuzz with talk that Singapore's commercial Changi airport was no longer going to require passports for clearance at immigration. Although it is true the paper documentation will be replaced by biometric measures, it's not quite time to pack the document away. The news came through as Singapore …

  1. Brian Miller

    But René Magritte painted...

    "No, that does not mean you can leave it at home just yet"

    Correct, you can't leave your face at home, but maybe you can have a floating apple in front of it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Changi Airport is fantastic, it is what an airport should be like. So pleasant to arrive compared to Heathrow.

    I used the automated gates on Saturday and its a fairly smooth experience. It helps that Singapore have enough staff on hand for when problems occur.

    If you fill in an electronic arrival card and come from one of the many "approved" contries you can use the automated gates.

    The automated gates scan your Passport AND Thumb Print AND Facial Recognition. (Thumb Print I believe is registered on a previous visit at the manual desks).

    The only snag is that Facial Recognition does not work with glasses on and you are asked to remove your glasses, at which point I could then no longer read the instructions on the screen! Seems to be a bit of a fundamental flaw here, especially since per capita Singapore is one of the highest spectacle wearing countries in the world.

    As the article points out you are still likely to require the passport at the airline checkin and also the departing country. So I would prefer passport and thumb print and ditch Facial Recognition because Facial Recognition has these drawbacks:

    1) Dubious Accuracy

    2) Doesn't work with glasses

    3) Passport photo can be up to 10 years old (but then if passport is not needed what are they matching against?)

    So if the thumb is scanned and validates is Facial Recognition required? Seems like a poor second factor. Surely better to allow storing of the passport in Google Wallet or Apple Wallet use this and Thumb print?

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      >if passport is not needed what are they matching against?

      I'd love to hear this as well. How is this technically going to work?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "collection of advance passenger and crew information

        As per the article. In other words you have already sent your passport.

      2. munnoch Bronze badge

        Which means your biometric data has already been slurped out of your passport and ingested into who knows what IT systems.

        Don't forget that SG isn't a country. Its a corporation.

    2. xyz Silver badge

      @Changi Airport is fantastic, it is what an airport should be like

      Except for the long run to the smoking area... After 13 hours. I'm a madman. At least the customs guys "know the look" and smile as I sprint passed.

    3. Colin Bull 1
      Thumb Up

      I have only been to singapore once, about 30 years ago. The memory is still etched in my mind.

      Arrrive at check in desks. About 20 of them and about 6 people waiting for all of them. heaven.

    4. gryphon


      Agree on Changi.

      Went through both ways when going to Australia in 2019.

      Scrupulously clean, and large, toilets every 100 metres or so.

      Water fountain in departure area.

      Free massage chairs every few hundred metres.

      Very pleasant staff.

      I might be misrembering but cleaners on big vacuums tracking back and forth every few minutes to get the last speck of dust.

      Shops charging usual non-airport prices for things instead of the usual 100-200% mark-up, and pricing very clear.

      Although in saying that they could have been marked up a lot from Singapore street prices.

      We were very late at night coming back so couldn't look at everything but did like the indoor waterfall etc. that you pass on the inter-terminal shuttle.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge

    Facial recognition

    Singapore’s way to detect chewing gum users.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Facial recognition

      And how they track down miscreants carrying Durians on the MRT

      1. Ken Shabby

        Re: Facial recognition

        Sir, is that a durian you are carrying or has a rat crawled up your arse, and died?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Domestic Flights?

    I find the concept of domestic flights within Singapore somewhat amusing.... The whole country would fit inside the M25.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Domestic Flights?

      Stretching the point further, if Singapore had an airport similarly positioned to Gatwick in relation to London, it would be in Malaysia and you'd need to show your passport to get to it...

  5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    This data will leak. Look at all the police records that have made it into the public domain. There lots of private companies involved and they all cutting corners competing on cost so sooner or later one will slip up and the crackers will notice.

  6. BOFH in Training

    Singapore immigration is usually a breeze

    I have flown thru Changi Airport, last maybe 9 months ago.

    And I had occasion to cross the land bridge into Malaysia as well, some months ago.

    Both times, Singapore immigration was a breeze (Malaysia immigration at the land bridge was atrocious as I recall - all manual, hardly any counters open, hours to travel the bridge which is only about 1km across, due to the jam from Malaysian customs). Actually saw alot of people holding different types of passports going thru the biometric gantries. 30 secs maybe to get thru the immigration. Hardly any queue.

    I imagine facial recognition systems will make it even smoother.

    Wonder if it will be possible to have cameras on the aero bridge from the aircraft which automatically record your entry as you exit the aircraft and maybe tagging you / your pic to an immigration officer if it did not work automatically for them to approach you and do the manual immigration. Can't say it's a privacy issue since they already record your entry with your passport currently and presumably you are recorded by 100s if not 1000s of cameras from the moment you exit the aircraft till you exit the airport (or from entry of airport till entry of aircraft).

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would love to see the Ig Nobel approach implemented

    This year's winner Seung-min Park invented the Stanford toilet, which analyses human waste. To identify people, it has a sort of iris scanner - only the eye it scans isn't actually an eye, and it confirms a degree of prescience in the authors of the Monsters vs Aliens movie..


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