SIBA: A conversation with Founder Janice Kephart

April 2, 2014 - 

This is the second part of BiometricUpdate.com’s conversation with Janice Kephart. Read part 1 here.

Janice Kephart is the outspoken leader and founder of the Secure Identity and Biometrics Association – SIBA for short. BiometricUpdate.com had a chance to sit down with Kephart to talk about the association, her work and her life outside of the security and identity sphere.

She’s been around the block in the security community and has authored significant portions of the 9/11 Commission’s staff monograph, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel, as well as many of the border-related recommendations in the 9/11 Final Report.

What Kephart says most people don’t know about her is that she’s a well-regarded poet and spoken-word musician who works with artists around the world. In fact, she’s recently been admitted into the Recording Academy of America, which means she can now be nominated and make entries for the Grammys.

“That was a really great honor that was a bucket-list item for me,” Kephart tells me. “I really want my genre of music acknowledged formally by the Academy. The music piece is a big part of my identity.”

“I work with great musicians from all over the world who do the backdrop to my poetry, which I write and perform. Sometimes they send me music and I write to the music, and sometimes I give them my vocal tracks and they write around me. Then I do the album covers, and usually most of the business side too.”

According to Kephart, her music is ranked from number 7-13 in the ambient genre on Reverbnation.com. It is here where Kephart says she has been approached numerous times for collaborations.

Besides being a musician, Kephart went to Villanova Law School and has an undergraduate degree from Duke University. She recently ended as the National Security Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, where she was the National Security Director for five years.

Along with her work developing and heading up SIBA, she’s also a single mother to three kids.

As for her work with SIBA, Kephart says it’s a natural extension for her, having worked extensively with Congress and the Senate in the past, along with her experience drafting 9/11 recommendations.

As we’ve reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, SIBA launched earlier this year with the aim to “provide proactive education, policy refinement and solutions to the complexities of balancing identity, security and protection with national security, public safety, economic strength, privacy and innovation.”  

“Since the Commission, most of the work I have done has included working on identity issues, including two years of lobbying on secure credential laws, testifying on Capitol Hill 16 times with every testimony either on or including identity issues. Just this past November, I was asked to be the lead witness on biometric based on the 60 page report I authored on the issue that answered direct questions I had been asked by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) during immigration reform while I was serving as special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. I take Congress seriously, and I was happy to move the ball forward on this most difficult issue.” Kephart said. “While I have an expertise in borders as well, the complexities of those issues are mirrored in the identity issues. Identity assurance is increasingly important the more remote our identity is from any variety of transactions we make as individuals, both online and off. Without good policy, thought leadership, and access to mainstream media, this industry may not emerge the economic innovators and winners it should. I founded SIBA to help make that goal a reality.”

Kephart will testify on April 3 on Libyan visa policy before a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security.

According to Kephart, the four main challenges SIBA needs to tackle in 2014 are consumer misconceptions around biometric technologies; the potential roll-back of identity assurance laws or the failure to pursue identity assurance in key areas like immigration reform and healthcare; a newly emerging fight in state legislatures to ban biometrics in public schools altogether; and a misunderstanding about what capabilities, uses and benefits biometrics can offer.

You can listen to Kephart’s music at http://www.reverbnation.com/janicekephart

This is the second part of BiometricUpdate.com’s conversation with Janice Kephart. Read part 1 here.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.