Apple patents and Mastercard lead this week’s top biometrics and digital ID news
Innovations and new projects by major global corporations such as Mastercard, Apple, and NEC are sprinkled throughout the top stories on Biometric Update this week. Government action, from data protection legislation in Togo to a law enforcement facial recognition contract in Australia to next-generation biometrics R&D by the Pentagon, was also in the news.
Mastercard’s ongoing evolution to a more digital services-focused company utilizing biometrics for authentication and identity proofing rolls on in the week’s top story, with its announcement of a new product suite for healthcare service providers utilizing physical biometrics and behavioral analytics.
Apple is exploring the use of digital credentials such as mobile driver’s licenses (mDLs) with its smartphone and automotive products, applying for a pair of patents on identity credential verification.
The push for passwordless authentication marches on, with FIDO-protocol biometrics provider Ensurity joining the Microsoft Intelligent Security Association and Secret Double Octopus achieving FIDO2 server certification.
New contracts and projects were among positive news for the ID industry out of Africa this week, but perhaps more importantly, Togo has joined the ranks of countries with data privacy laws.
Any time biometrics technology is used to identify children, there are special considerations. With that in mind, UNICEF has published two documents to guide assessments of the value of biometric systems in programs, and to review the technologies, opportunities, and risks in the area.
Governments are also grappling with their responsibilities, and Holyrood has an update on Scotland’s progress toward establishing a new Biometrics Commissioner. The current stage of scrutiny by the Justice Committee has a deadline of December 20. An editorial in The Diplomat argues that “(b)iometric identification introduces a new layer to the concept of citizenship,” essentially by applying laws and state activity ubiquitously, and thereby incentivizing and disincentivizing certain behaviors.
This argument brings up a key point yet to be dealt with in public dialogue about surveillance and biometrics: some laws (running a red light is used as an example in the editorial) and government practices (a social media post critical of the government is used in this case) are commonly ignored or flouted, for reasons ranging from irrelevance to social disobedience.
Russell Berg, general manager for customer engagement at New Zealand-based digital automation company Quanton writes for CIO that bias, privacy, and transparency in AI must all be tackled head-on by industry players, but that New Zealand’s public is not yet aware enough of the issue of ethics in AI.
NEC has been having an up-and-down time with Australian government agencies, it would seem, as it turns out the company is providing facial recognition technology to Australian Federal Police, in addition to several other law enforcement agencies in the country. Australia is ramping up its government use of biometrics, but has had mixed success, including on work with NEC.
Work by U.S. Special Operations Command on ‘next generation biometrics,’ including DNA and invisible latent prints, is examined in some depth following the issuance of a new Request for Information.
In a striking contrast, the former Branch Chief of White House Computer Network Defense DImitrios Vastakis has blasted the White House’s handling of cybersecurity staff, as The Next Web reports, and says “the White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again. Allowing for a large portion of institutional knowledge to concurrently walk right out the front door seems contrary to the best of interests of the mission and organization as a whole.”
The IntelligenceSquared debate series has considered whether “Europe has declared war on American tech companies” in its latest event. The team arguing in favor of European-style regulation ostensibly won the debate, but a range of issues related to policy and regulation were raised, including the suggestion that those companies who want regulation may plan to gain an advantage by doing so.
In a story of international cooperation, Japanese credit card company JCB has launched a device to provide an alternative to mobile phones for biometric payment authentication, with Fingerprint Cards supplying the sensor.
Goode Intelligence Principal Alan Goode has reviewed the progress of the biometric payments card market, with interviews of Idex Biometrics, Precise Biometrics, and Riot Micro. Goode Intelligence will revisit its forecast of the market, which previously included a prediction of 579 million cards shipped by 2023, in the coming year.
Startup Incode burst onto the digital identity market this week with a $10 million funding announcement and the launch of its platform for omnichannel facial recognition and passive liveness verification.
A leading biometrics research scientist took to LinkedIn to dispel some misconceptions about what facial recognition research at the Maryland Test Facility used by DHS actually shows, and to explain why perceptions of bias do not always reflect the facts.
Meanwhile, a range of announcements seems to indicate growing comfort with the technology, and at least in certain markets.
FaceTec also appeared in a pair of widely-read stories this week, about Jumio’s new fully-automated identity verification product leveraging ZoOm, and the launch of a new liveness detection bug bounty.
While the airport segment of the biometrics market was relatively quiet this week, AirAsia won Asia Pacific Digital Transformer of the Year at the IDC Digital Transformation Awards (DXa) 2019, according to TTR Weekly, for its use of facial recognition, as well as machine learning for price optimization, AI-powered chatbot and enhanced mobile app features. The Wall Street Journal also has an interview this week with JetBlue CTO Eash Sundaram about the airline’s investments in a range of Silicon Valley startups, and its focus on leveraging biometrics and other technologies to differentiate its business.
Please let us know if you spot any articles, editorials, or announcements the biometrics and digital identity communities need to know about in the comments below or through social media.