Borders, data protection, standards and a deal among top biometrics and digital ID news this week
Borders and data protection are prominent themes among the most widely-read news items of the week on Biometric Update. Progress on industry standards, market growth, a possible advance in facial recognition technology, and advancing government projects are among recent positive developments, while confusion and lawsuits relating to data privacy continue to hound some law enforcement groups and companies that use biometrics in a certain Midwest state.
Interoperability has been a thorn in the side on some biometrics customers in the past, and new standards introduced by the ISO and IEC could help. The ICAO is also expected to implement the standards for machine-readable travel documents, as reported in one of our top stories this week.
The market for border control will reach $3.5 billion, boosted by growth in biometrics-as-a-service, according to a new ABI Research report. Infrastructure investments such as in Automated Border Control e-gates and kiosks are expected to increase, but can pose challenges for organizations seeking a solid ROI. Perhaps the introduction of new standards will help extend the life of technology to help with that issue.
A spat between Homeland Security and NY State legislators over Trusted Traveler Programs ramped up with Members of Congress from both parties writing Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and the State Attorney General filing a civil complaint. DHS has closed down state resident renewal of Trusted Traveler status in response to the department’s access to the state drivers’ license database being cut off as part of a new law to extend licenses to people without residency status.
Google is the latest tech giant to face a lawsuit under Illinois’ biometric data privacy law BIPA. The suit alleges the Google Photos app performs biometric analysis on all photos taken by users automatically, without satisfying the informed consent requirements which have been the focus of nearly every one of the hundreds of BIPA lawsuits on the books.
The other side of the controversy generated by Clearview AI’s dubious and possibly illegal data collection practices is that it is a valuable tool for investigators seeking to capture and prosecute child sex offenders. The unfolding revelations around the internet-scraping startup have thrown gasoline on the tire-fire of outrage that has largely replaced rational social dialogue on facial recognition lately.
There are thorny issues around data protection that deserve some of the attention being soaked up elsewhere.
In one example, the proposed Indian Data Protection Act of 2019 may appear to follow global standards, but it could have unintended consequences, and even work against data protection, according to a Wired editorial by independent cybersecurity and privacy researcher Dr. Lukasz Olejnik. Re-identification – in the sense of associating data with an identity it has previously been decoupled from – would be made illegal without the subject’s consent, which makes sense for preventing some data security threats, but could criminalize legitimate and necessary cybersecurity and privacy research. The solution may be carveouts like those introduced in the UK in 2016.
The lack of regulation around AI is partly to blame for companies attempting to use emotion recognition for commercial applications without a sound scientific basis, according to MIT Technology Review. Affective computing researchers say their work is being misrepresented by ludicrous claims. MIT Media Lab professor Rosalind Picard, who co-founded Affectiva and startup Empatica points to the Employee Polygraph Protection Act as a good starting point for needed regulation.
The covid-19 outbreak in China has presented an opportunity for SenseTime, which claims to have developed facial recognition technology which identifies individuals wearing masks, in another of the week’s top stories. Megvii, meanwhile, has developed technology that leverages facial biometrics to perform a temperature check, rather than identification of the subject. With masks worn to prevent the spread of illness, inhalation of air pollution, and sometimes even avoid identification, accurate biometric identification of faces occluded by masks could represent a significant step forward for surveillance technology.
The coronavirus outbreak has also resulted in the cancelation of Mobile World Congress 2020, following a wave of major companies pulling out of the event, as reported by The Verge. All major Chinese smartphone manufacturers were expected to attend, along with most of the world’s other top mobile brands. ZTE and others were expected to make announcements, which may now be rescheduled. Barcelona will be significantly impacted, and is suddenly a realistic destination for a last-minute holiday February 24 to 27.
AimBrain is selling its authentication platform for multi-modal biometrics to BioCatch for an undisclosed price. BioCatch will pursue broader applications for the behavioral biometric technology, which assists businesses with fraud detection and regulatory compliance, and expects the acquisition to help continue its rapid growth in the year ahead.
Guyana is launching a biometric national ID card to consolidate its identity credential requirements for different services, though the detail have yet to be worked out. The country is also looking for assistance as it uses biometrics to keep track of tens of thousands of Venezuelan migrants, and the governments of Portugal and Jamaica are moving forward with their digital ID systems.
The Equifax hack continues to impact digital ID security, and several members of the Chinese military have been indicted by name over the attack by the U.S. Justice Department, as Forbes reports. The fallout of the Justice Department and FBI’s conclusions could touch areas spanning from 5G hardware rollout to efforts to build international technical and ethical standards for artificial intelligence.
“(W)e remind the Chinese government that we have the capability to remove the internet’s cloak of anonymity,” said Attorney General William Barr in his statement.
A BIO-key blog post argues that while it may not be feasible to have the myriad entities and organizations that depend on passwords agree on a single alternative for access security, businesses can begin leveraging biometric security with technologies like WEB-key that operate alongside traditional authentication methods. A truly-passwordless world will come, according to the post, but not in the next five years.
Malawi, meanwhile, is facing a do-over after its previous election, which was the first held in the country with biometrics, was annulled by a panel of judges. It is yet unclear what, if any, role was played by biometrics in the discovery of widespread vote-rigging. Exams in Nigeria, the rollout of Gambia’s new biometric ID system, Uganda’s upcoming elections and the shortcomings of Chad’s new ID program are also examined this week.
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