There's no masking this technology is hard to fool

Top News | Charlotte Luo 11 Jan 2019

Donning a silicone mask may not enable you to fool the facial recognition machine unless it's a highly sophisticated one, according to an Airport Authority official.

Whether passengers can pass facial recognition will depend on if they are recognizable from their passport photos and whether or not their faces have been altered by plastic surgery.

The spokeswoman said that, if the system does not allow a person to pass, manual checking would follow.

She pointed out that passengers would have already passed a security check before entering the secure area so their faces would be in the system as they approached the boarding gates.

In 2010, a young Chinese man from the mainland used a silicone mask, pictured, to pose as an elderly white old man to board a flight from Hong Kong International Airport.

The man, who was in his 20s, exchanged his passport and boarding pass with an American in the departure hall.

He easily passed security checking and boarded an Air Canada flight to Vancouver. But when he removed the mask in the plane's toilet a crew member noticed he returned to his seat as a young man.

The border inspection authority in Canada was notified and the man was arrested when the plane landed at Vancouver airport.

Francis Fong Po-kiu, honorary president of the Information Technology Federation, said even though people might use a disguise to try and get past security, facial recognition technology is expected to be more accurate than human eyes and fingerprints.

He also pointed out that e-passports and Hong Kong smart ID cards would have photos saved at the end-server that would be used for facial recognition.

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