BBC explores health pass biometrics with iProov and FinGo

Clear Health Pass trials continue in U.S., working on proof of vaccination

facial recognition can identify people wearing masks

It is an eventful time for health pass discussions, as the apps and related biometric technologies get trialed in various parts of the UK and the U.S.

Talking on a recent episode of BBC Click, iProov’s Founder and CEO Andrew Bud made the case for facial recognition technologies, and how they can be used to prove individuals’ identity for vaccine passports.

“[These technologies] have been under development by technology organizations for the last five or six years,” Bud said, “but there has never been a large-scale opportunity to use them. Now there is. And once it starts it will completely transform the way that digital identity happens worldwide.”

Simon Binns, FinGo chief commercial officer, concurred, describing the usefulness and precision of finger vein biometrics to correctly identify individuals.

“The finger vein template in itself is more unique than fingerprints or face, it’s a more intricate pattern, and the chances of someone having the same finger vein is tiny,” he explained.

Both FinGo vein biometrics and iProov’s biometric technologies are currently being trialed in the UK for digital health passes.

Despite their advantages, however, vaccine passports have been also criticized as a potential means of mass surveillance from governments.

Entrust’s executive call for further scrutiny of vaccine passports

The Product Marketing Director of digital security firm Entrust is urging governments to acknowledge the advantages, but also potential downsides of vaccine passports.

Writing on Entrust’s blog, Jenn Markey said that while vaccine passports would reduce the potential for unvaccinated individuals to spread the virus, the management and verification of private health information (PHI) could create a new set of data privacy concerns.

According to Markey, these issues could be tackled by governments by utilizing lessons learned by past passport rollouts.

One of them would be to balance fraud protection and ease of use. In other words, taking the concept of old ‘yellow cards’ — documents travelers had to carry to prove they had been vaccinated against highly communicable diseases — and enhance it with proven digital identity technologies like biometrics, along with QR codes.

In addition, Markey argued that in order to ensure widespread accessibility, any vaccine passport solution designed to allow international traveling will have to feature both mobile-based and smart card-based solutions.

These solutions will also have to be universally recognized and scannable across countries and industries to enable full interoperability.

U.S. venues trial Clear health pass app

A health pass app developed by biometrics firm Clear has been deployed by over 60 stadiums and other venues in the U.S., Reuters reports.

The move comes shortly after the company partnered with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to provide biometric technology for COVID-19 health screening to all 30 arenas used by NBA teams. The San Francisco Giants and New York Mets of Major League Baseball are among the first large organizations to put Clear Health Pass checks in place.

The system, which is paid by individual venues, utilizes document verification and facial recognition to identify individuals before granting access. Some venues reportedly require a symptom survey via the Clear app or an automated temperature check at a Clear kiosk.

“Those experiences where you have to prove something about you – if we can help empower the consumer to get through that more quickly — that is our core business,” commented Catesby Perrin, Clear’s executive vice president of growth.

The company says more than 70,000 of its Health Passes are used for venue access weekly, and Clear’s app has been downloaded more times in each of March and April 2021 than all of 2020, according to the report.

According to Reuters, Clear has also started testing access to vaccination records, but so far declined to disclose details.

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