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Face biometrics roll out at airports on three continents amid ethics, oversight debates

Face biometrics roll out at airports on three continents amid ethics, oversight debates

Airport deployments of face biometrics were the focus of two of the most widely-read stories on Biometric Update over the past week, with Thales and Idemia technology rolling out at airports in Spain and California, respectively. A new biometrics partnership for financial inclusion and a significant zero trust investment from the U.S. government show different areas of digital ID momentum. A new biometric payment card from Inkript and Zwipe has been launched, while mDL standards and research into synthetic data for algorithm training advanced. Oversight issues, however, continue to make headlines.

Top biometrics news of the week

A facial recognition ethics self-assessment tool for law enforcement being used in the Netherlands is explored in a WEF white paper, along with proposed principles for ethical biometric surveillance. The self-assessment, which includes specific questions about probe images and reference databases in addition to more common ones around proportionality and transparency, is currently being piloted.

A face biometrics trial at Wellington Airport in New Zealand has begun over the protestations of Privacy Commissioner John Edwards. Edwards opposed the plan when the country’s Aviation Security Service first mooted it on grounds the data collected could be used by other agencies, and the application would set a dangerous precedent, but the agency quietly began the trial in June anyway, and is accused to a lack of transparency in the process.

The UK government is proposing to subsume the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner roles under the Information Commissioner’s Office, despite statutory incompatibility and a range of critical areas of consideration falling outside the ICO’s scope. In an exclusive interview with Biometric Update, current Commissioner Fraser Sampson explains why the proposal should be rejected. His predecessor in the Surveillance Camera Commissioner role agrees.

The market, meanwhile, continues to hum.

The latest advances in biometric payment cards include development on digitalization by Idemia, which is also developing cards with dynamic CVVs and payments through QR codes. Drayson Technologies, meanwhile, has rebranded as Freevolt after its energy harvesting capability, and Inkript launched its first fingerprint-enabled card, powered by Zwipe, at Seamless Middle East 2021.

The U.S. federal government is investing in digital identity, with $239 million out of a Technology Modernization Fund going to three zero-trust initiatives by federal agencies and expanding the GSA’s digital identity and in-person verifications for vulnerable populations. The zero-trust projects involve upgrading GSA, the Department of Education and OPM infrastructure.

The shift from analog to digital identity has given rise to unprecedented digital fraud writes Utimaco CSO Malte Pollmann for Biometric Update in a guest post. Pollmann explains why this evolution will eventually arrive at a combination of biometrics, blockchain and private key-based methods.

In a similar vein, SmartSearch CEO John Dobson writes that digital onboarding is now convenient enough to displace in-person verification as the normal method of establishing trust and meeting regulatory requirements when people sign up for services.

Thales and Idemia are each deploying systems featuring their face biometrics technology for passenger checks at airports on different continents. Thirty Thales ABC gates have been installed at three Spanish airports, extending a country rollout that will reach 120 gates by the end of the year, while Idemia’s MFACE will be implemented at Oakland International Airport in California as part of CBP’s Biometric Exit program.

A research paper from Microsoft delves into the use of synthetic digital faces for training facial analysis algorithms. The researchers used a technique involving procedurally-generated parametric 3D faces and a library of hand-crafted assets for perfect labels without annotation noise.

ISO 1803-5, the standard for the specifications of interoperable digital credentials like mobile driver’s licenses on mobile devices, has been published. The ISO spec covers data integrity verification, origin authentication, identity binding and machine reading for mDLs, as an HID Global blog post explains.

Irisguard has reached an arrangement with EyeTrust and LDA and Timor-Leste’s BNCTL to deploy iris biometrics through the EyePay Network to provide identity verification at ATMs and in branches to allow unbanked people to open bank accounts. The project is intended to link e-wallets with bank accounts to help serve people in rural areas.

Facial recognition for koalas is under development in Australia, to tell Fitbit wearing marsupials apart.  For science.  A non-invasive way of identifying individual members of a species could be applied across different kinds of animals, researchers tell the ABC. They are attempting to measure the impact of potential stresses, such as the presence of drones, on the animals, but many attempts to gather data can themselves be sources of stress.

As always, please let us know in the comments below or through social media about any articles, webinars or other content we should share with the biometrics and digital ID community.

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