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Airports and encryption research lead this week’s biometrics and digital ID news

Airports and encryption research lead this week’s biometrics and digital ID news

Excitement about new technologies and deployments, and in a couple of cases a lack thereof, was the theme of the week in biometrics news and around the web. Announcements in a few different areas and applications of identity technology are causing optimism, while the increasingly noisy social dialogue about facial recognition continues to make headlines but without meaningful progress.

London’s Gatwick Airport, Europe’s ninth-biggest airport, has revealed it will invest more than a billion dollars in a program including e-gates for biometric boarding. The news comes as participants prepare for the FTE Global 2019 conference, and Future Travel Experiences interviewed a range of industry stakeholders on the obstacles in the way of the mass roll out of biometrics for air travel.

In another large but very different implementation, a national ID card program in the Philippines will reach 23 million people next year, if the plan of the country’s central bank is successful.

New technologies were featured in several of Biometric Update’s most-read stories of the week. These include homomorphic encryption, which could make biometric authentication through the cloud much more secure by processing data without decrypting it, and a new group comprised of nearly 100 members will look to create standards for the potentially disruptive technology.

The Pentagon meanwhile is looking into the use of biometric analysis of social media content for gathering new insights into the likelihood of threats to Special Operations Forces in the field of operation.

FIDO2 already enables people to use on-device biometrics for online authentication, but adoption of the protocol is being hindered by bureaucracy and perception problems, ThumbSignIn VP of Products Aman Khanna argues in a Biometric Update guest post. Suprema responded to news of a data exposure incident which highlights the potential risk of cloud biometric systems, declaring that preliminary investigation indicates no records have been stolen, and the vulnerability is now closed.

Biometric Update also interviewed BioRugged COO Hoffmeier Retief about several new biometric devices from the company, discussed ID R&D’s new passive liveness detection technology with CEO Alexey Khitrov, and talked about what makes a good ABIS and new FingerprintWorkbench and FaceWorkbench client applications for AwareABIS with Aware’s VP of Marketing and Product David Benini.

One response to the controversy around facial recognition is the development of new technologies to avoid it. A new software for tracking individuals without performing facial matching on them has been developed, while Hong Kong protesters and entrepreneurs alike are finding ways to block facial recognition.

A recent announcement about facial recognition by the ACLU has drawn a warning from industry group ITIF that they are contributing to public confusion, rather than helping it, by using suspect methodologies and exaggerated rhetoric, while SIA sets out to correct some misconceptions. As the British Computer Society warns organizations to take public facial recognition deployments seriously, Comparitech released a list of the cities with the most surveillance cameras in the world per 100,000 citizens. The top of the list is mostly unsurprising, and how many of the cameras are connected to facial biometric systems is not included, but some Western citizens and governments may be surprised at how they compare with cities where attitudes are reported to be significantly different.

Many companies announced second quarter and first half earnings for 2019 this week, and though they show a range of results, progress in several market areas are providing plenty of optimism.

One of those areas is biometric cards, and BBC Click has produced a four-minute video on fingerprint debit cards, including a demonstration of remote enrollment. ImageWare Systems is one of the company’s reporting that reported this week, and CTO David Harding lays out his case that security has evolved beyond passwords in a piece for Corporate Compliance Insights.

Another potential growth area is in hospitality, and Hospitality Net explores NEC’s biometric products for the industry, including the One ID system for airports and resorts, and technologies to support automated retail stores.

Wider use of biometrics in African countries could help financial inclusion and health care records administration, but privacy concerns are growing in countries without formalized data protections and where surveillance projects are being launched.

The UNHCR faced heavy criticism this week for the wording of a tweet about registering the fingerprints of refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many people took issue with the claim that “the first step to safety is having an identity.” Biometric Update humbly suggests the agency try something more like “proof of identity can help keep people safe” next time. Critics of the use of biometrics in refugee registrations will likely not be pleased with the news that DHS will be given biometric records for thousands of people to add to its massive biometric database.

This week in editorials warning of biometrics’ and facial recognition’s dangers, Dr. Stephanie Hare argues in The Guardian that the UK needs to update its laws and rein in commercial and law enforcement facial recognition deployments. A Financial Times editorial on “The insidious threat of biometrics” argues that stringent security procedures and new legislation may be needed. As this is usually necessary for broad adoption of new technology, under a marginally different perspective the very same threat could be called “unremarkable.” Birgit Schippers, a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast presents ten reasons to worry about facial recognition in The Conversation, and concludes that the social dialogue on the technology needs to be more prominent.

Next week’s edition of editorials will likely include reference to Babeyes, which a Mashable vide shows is a facial recognition-powered baby-memory replacement camera, or something. While Engadget had a cautiously optimistic take, Idemia Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Product Management Teresa Wu can already see the backlash from here.

As for another source of industry-related fear, Nature discusses the relative positions of China and the U.S. in AI development, and finds America is likely to retain its edge for some time. Huawei meanwhile expects to sell 60 million fewer smartphones than it would have without the U.S. government restrictions, and the company’s founder has instructed employees to fight for the company’s life in an internal memo, the Financial Post reports.

If you spot a news item, editorial, or debate that the biometrics industry needs to know about, let us know through any of the usual channels.

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