Wellington International Airport facial recognition trial is exposed

Occurred: October 2021

New Zealand's Wellington International Airport quietly trialled a facial recognition system despite being warned not to by the country's Office of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand. 

Having started the trial in June, the airport reportedly used the system to count how many passengers passed through security, and how long they spend queuing.

The Privacy Commissioner argued the tool's impact on privacy outweighed its benefits, and could lead to its use by other agencies, including law enforcement or intelligence agencies.

The Commissioner also criticised New Zealand's Aviation Security Service's decision not to issue a press release about the new technology, or to include information about it on the airport website.

System 🤖

Operator: Wellington International Airport
Developer: Aviation Security (Avsec)
Country: New Zealand
Sector: Transport/logistics
Purpose: Assess security queues
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Appropriateness/need; Dual/multi-use
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: October 2021
Last updated: January 2023