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Jyotiraditya Scindia clarifies that passengers can only be enrolled in Digi Yatra with their consent

Airport operators have been directed to ensure that passengers are only enrolled in the Digi Yatra initiative with their explicit consent, according to Minister for Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia. Digi Yatra utilizes facial recognition software for the digital processing of passengers at airport checkpoints, and the scheme is voluntary, allowing passengers to opt out at any time. Scindia’s clarification comes in response to complaints from several individuals who alleged they were enrolled in the Digi Yatra app without their consent by airport staff.

Trinamool Congress leader Saket Gokhale brought the issue to light, stating in a social media post that he had written to Scindia after multiple passengers reported unauthorized sign-ups on the Digi Yatra app. In his response dated January 24, Scindia acknowledged the issue and assured that airport personnel across India have been instructed to strictly adhere to obtaining informed consent before enrolling passengers in Digi Yatra, emphasizing the voluntary nature of the process.

Scindia clarified that the consent of passengers is a prerequisite for recording facial biometric data during registration, and this data is deleted from airport systems within 24 hours of flight departure. Digi Yatra, introduced in 2018, aims to streamline the passenger experience by offering seamless, contact-less, hassle-free, and paperless boarding to reduce boarding time.




Forced to enrol on Digi Yatra at airports? Scindia clarifies in letter to  TMC MP | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
Forced to enrol on Digi Yatra at airports? Scindia clarifies in letter to TMC MP

The Digi Yatra Foundation, responsible for the initiative, is privately owned, with the government holding just 26% of shares. The initiative was rolled out at seven airports in the first phase, including Bengaluru, Delhi, and Varanasi in December 2022, and expanded to Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, and Vijayawada by March 2023. Currently operational at 13 airports, Digi Yatra involves the use of a mobile app where passengers register with their Aadhaar card and a selfie, using the information as a boarding pass at various airport checkpoints.

However, digital rights organizations, such as the Internet Freedom Foundation, have raised concerns about user privacy. They argue that the scheme lacks robust fundamental privacy principles, making personal data susceptible to misuse, sharing, or theft. The government’s emphasis on obtaining explicit consent addresses the reported issues of passengers being enrolled without their agreement, aiming to ensure transparency and protect individual privacy within the framework of the Digi Yatra initiative.

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