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Explosive digital ID growth and further potential draws scrutiny of ethics and market


digital identity biometric registration

Increasing the availability of digital identity around the world was a priority before the pandemic, and with immunity passports and e-government systems being established, digital ID is a common thread in many of the top stories from around the biometrics industry this week.

Daon’s solution was chosen by a second major airline and iProov has been working with the UK government, while Yoti and Onfido announced online identification market successes, among recent examples.

Most read biometrics news this week

Momentum towards the widespread adoption of immunity passports continues, with Daon’s VeriFLY selected by British Airways for a trial, and an ABC report noting the position of iProov and Onfido in the emerging market. Meanwhile Delta is beginning a trial of its contactless passenger journey featuring biometric security and at-home COVID tests, delivered in collaboration with TrustAssure.

Idemia and Sopra Steria have recorded another major customer win as systems across Europe are upgraded in preparation for the implementation of the biometric Entry-Exit System, signing a contract with France’s Ministry of the Interior. Their consortium will be responsible for the new CCAF system from design through implementation and maintenance, with the system expected to reach operation during 2021.

Nigeria’s plan to link its national biometrics-backed digital ID with SIM card registrations has been a source of hope and controversy, culminating this week in a legal challenge brought by a coalition of rights groups in Edo State. The deadline for registering NINs with SIMs has been extended by nearly two months, but the suit seeks to have the whole project declared unconstitutional.

Nubian Rights Forum explains its worries that Huduma Namba could exclude millions of Kenyans to Biometric Update in an email interview which was widely-read this week. The government says it has been working to address the concerns of activists, but the rights group says the whole process has been conducted without sufficient publicly engagement or transparency.

The GSMA has published a report on the role of telecoms in digital identity ecosystems, with case studies of Benin, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. The report, unsurprisingly, finds partnerships between the industry and regulators could benefit both, and national digital ID systems in general.

Many barriers remain to providing ID to the 1 billion people around the world who still do not have the means to legally prove their identity, and therefore exercise their rights, according to an article from Thales. Jaume Dubois, a digital identity specialist with the company, sees different paths forward as necessary to overcoming those barriers, but many of them include private sector involvement and increased digitization, which can help keep costs down, he says.

A smart city contract in China has been awarded to Hikvision, which will deploy facial recognition cameras across Shanghe County under a public-private partnership. The company beat out a trio of system integrators for the $33 million contract. An examination of Mexico City’s multimillion-dollar smart city system by IPVM, meanwhile, shows the tens of thousands of cameras deployed may not be reducing crime. Local media reports suggest various reasons the cameras have failed to help in particular incidents, and the murder rate seems to be holding steady.

Former Huawei VP of Communications for Denmark, Tommy Zwicky, tells the Washington Post that the company told him it will admit no wrongdoing in developing Uighur-tracking biometric software, and that in his judgement it does not see the decision as a mistake. His resignation marks the latest public relations setback for a company that seemed on the cusp of a breakthrough in Western markets not long ago.

Jumio VP of Global Marketing Dean Nicolls suggests five things AI companies can do to prevent bias from reducing the effectiveness of identity verification in the online environment in a Forbes Brand Contributor piece. Training database size and diversity, the source of the data, and how they are labelled must all be considered, and Nicolls suggests applying quality controls to the tagging process and diversifying algorithm development teams to get the right results.

The democratization of facial recognition through web service Pimeyes, and its use to identify people involved in the U.S. Capitol riot is examined by Vice, which counts at least seven people posting about doing so on Twitter. Pimeyes has been discussed in European Parliament, and compared unflatteringly to Clearview AI, and as the article points out, the risk of misidentification with technology operated by untrained individuals is high.

The explosive growth in digital identity is prompting action by the World Bank, which is planning to guide countries in the establishment of data protection frameworks, and Eurosmart, which has published a paper on the governance of the proposed EUid. Switzerland will hold a referendum on its national digital ID, Lebanon should not introduce a biometric ID for voting and government service access, according to advocacy group SMEX, while Portugal is taking stock of its digital ID ecosystem ahead of its next steps.

The new Identity and Biometric Technology Advisory Board (IBTAB) established by the SIA has been announced, and is made up of industry heavyweights from Clear, Idemia, Leidos, NEC America and SAIC. The World Economic Forum has established an AI ethics initiative with over a hundred companies, and Nuggets has joined the ID2020 Alliance.

The One World Identity event announcing the 2021 Identity Landscape was almost as fascinating as the Landscape itself, with two of the organization’s leaders discussing methodology, trends, and the form that market maturation takes at this point in its development. Key takeaways include the arrival of cybersecurity players in the identity business, the rising prominence of digital identity wallets, and growing standardization.

A major customer win by Yoti has been revealed, with online porn empire MindGeek implementing biometric identity verification to crack down on people uploading illegal videos depicting abuse, and in some jurisdictions confirm the age of visitors to prevent underage people from viewing restricted content. The terms of the deal were not revealed, but is bound to be lucrative, given that it is intended to restore the support of payment services to one of the web’s largest companies.

Onfido announced it signed up 320 new clients for its ID document and selfie biometric checks in 2020, and had its highest revenues yet, after more than doubling its revenue in 2019. The company sees traditional banks as a potential major growth area, as financial institutions often considered resistant to change are forced to move more processes online.

The third episode of BrainChip’s podcast is a discussion with one of the company’s co-founders Peter van der Made about the architecture of the human brain and of neural networks, differences with tradition, von Neumann architecture, beneficial AI and more. Van der Made believes the limits of silicon-based computing have been reached, leaving neuromorphic as the path forward.

Please let us know of any articles, blogs or podcasts that should be shared with the biometrics industry and people in digital ID in the comments below or through social media.

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