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Payments, travel, and facial recognition top this week’s biometrics and digital ID news


Biometrics, and in particular facial recognition, for payments and travel dominated the most-read stories on Biometric Update for the past week.

Visa is continuing its tradition of experimenting with new payment technologies at the Olympics, with mobile applications, digital card issuance, and wearable tech planned for the Tokyo 2020 games, while Mastercard issued a CAST (Compliance Assessment and Security Testing) certificate to biometric payment card technology from Fingerprint Cards, Precise Biometrics, and NXP Semiconductors, a major step towards full certification.

Subway fare payment and retail intelligence are just two of seven different applications of facial recognition technology recently announced, while a new biometric system has been launched for ticketing on India’s Mumbai to Bandra rail line.

Facial recognition continues to be deployed more widely for air travel as well, with Star Alliance selecting NEC to provide curb-to-gate biometrics for frequent flyers, and to continue the momentum in the travel industry the WTTC and World Economic Forum announced a partnership to promote seamless interoperability and sharing of biometric data across the sector. A pair of U.S. Senators hostile to the Biometric Entry/Exit program, meanwhile, have called for the DHS to produce a report on its use of biometrics mandated by 2018 legislation, along with an explanation for why it wasn’t available at the July 2 due date.

In addition to its longstanding use of biometrics to identify pilgrims, a hackathon was introduced to the Hajj last year, and a smart-card initiative to track the location of 25,000 pilgrims will run this year, Fortune reports.

From the way it is framed in the title, you can tell some of what The Guardian’s article “What is facial recognition – and how sinister is it?” will be about, but the article does provide some of the information members of the general public need to be informed on the issues attending the technology, unfortunately leaving out any differentiation of verification or opt-in systems. Those distinctions are made succinctly in this video of TrueFace CEO Shaun Moore on a podcast, for industry types who are getting tired of repeating it. Forbes reports on an interactive map created by Fight for the Future to show where facial recognition is being used in public and semi-public spaces, and where its been banned or restricted, for those keeping score at home.

Of course, if we are actually interested in educating people, we will have to deal early on with the question of the extent to which privacy exists in the developed world, as discussed by Chris Matyszczyk of ZDNet’s Technically Incorrect and his engineer friend George.

In law enforcement, Hong Kong police and protesters are using facial recognition on each other, and the relative merits of and appropriate controls over facial recognition for law enforcement were debated in the U.S., India, and the UK. Australia’s intelligence agencies are seeking an interoperable common access card system for building access control, and asking prospective contractors to use biometrics as one of two factors.

Their options will be increased by the growing proliferation of edge biometric devices, which, as Janakiram MSV explains in Forbes, are enabled by the purpose-built AI accelerators being built by NVIDIA, Intel, and Google.

From our ongoing coverage of ID4Africa 2019, an interview with ID4Africa Board of Directors member and UNICEF Associate Director and Global Chief of Child Protection Cornelius Williams on location from Johannesburg, where he urged governments across Africa not to be “called away by the Sirens” of high-tech investment without establishing a sound legal foundation.

In other recent digital identity in international development news, USAID has released a “Guide to Creating Digital ID for Inclusive Development” as a companion to its 2017 report “Identity in a Digital Age: Infrastructure for Inclusive Development”[].

An article on the G2 Learning Hub provides a great primer on digital identity, covering its definition and the categories, problems, approaches and principles behind it. The biometrics industry has long felt it has the tool to replace passwords for logical access control of digital identity, but HYPR CTO Bojan Simic pitches a theory on Help Net Security that mobile and cloud computing, by setting up a plague of shared secrets to be leveraged by hackers, has set up a paradigm shift toward biometric authentication.

There was not a lot of voice biometrics news this week, perhaps because much of the segment’s players were at the Conversational AI Summit at Transform 2019. In a sponsored post, VentureBeat summarizes the perspectives shared from NLP and chatbot experts during the event.

As AI goes mainstream, and its attendant ethical concerns become more well known and pressing, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab has launched an AI Ethics summer camp, WGBH reports.

As we bring together biometrics industry-related news from across the site and all around the internet, all Biometric Update readers are also encouraged to send in their own suggestions.

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