Biometrics investment not constrained by privacy concerns
The acquisition of face biometrics and remote identity proofing supplier Acuant by GBG continues the investment trend in the digital ID space, as does passwordless authentication provider Keyless’ acquisition by Sift and a $90 million funding round for Stytch. Oosto and Vsblty are reporting positive results from the use of their biometrics and computer vision technologies in smart city systems in another of the most widely-read articles of the week on Biometric Update. Privacy concerns continue to surface around data collection, however, from consumer apps to the metaverse.
Top biometrics news of the week
The disruptive power of blockchain will combine with biometrics to redefine digital ID through the use of a single token, Frost & Sullivan writes in a digital identity market analysis. That may take until 2030, however. Along the way, deployments of biometric readers and kiosks, national government programs and identity theft concerns will fuel growth in a wide range of areas.
A series of UN-backed roundtables considered the role and state of digital identity as an aspect of legal identity. A report summarizing the series describes legal and digital identity as sometimes-overlapping elements of a larger overall concept, and an increasingly important role for the private sector, particularly with an increase in the use of decentralized systems.
The technologies behind foundational digital identity systems around the world are being examined by Privacy International, including Aadhaar and Estonia’s open-source system, and beginning with MOSIP. PI reviews the MOSIP tech stack, but also issues that arise in implementation, including the exclusion of Morocco’s second official language Tamazight from the country’s ID cards in its draft law.
How Apple Wallet will generate revenue has become much clearer, with contracts between the tech giant and states revealing that taxpayers will be footing the bill for most of the ecosystem, including customer support and promoting adoption of digital identity documents like mobile driver’s licenses. The contracts also curiously make the states responsible for authentication with the native biometrics of Apple devices.
The metaverse is very exciting to many people who are not entirely clear what it is, and a Liminal panel discussion pointed out both stupidity and opportunity in the ballyhooed future digital environment. Digital identity providers will mostly play a similar role to the one they play for the current internet, panelists say, though Liquid Avatar’s plans seem somehow stranger and more concrete all the time. The concept is also sparking privacy worries.
Consumer data privacy continues to be a contentious topic, with Grindr accused of demanding stronger authentication, likely through biometrics, for data collection transparency requests, than is needed to use the app. An advocacy group says the policy is absurd, though one could plausibly argue the absurdity is in the law, the concept of online anonymity, or anywhere in between. Jumio, meanwhile, has been hit with another BIPA lawsuit alleging transparency rule violations.
OnlyFans’ attempts to keep underage pornography off of its platform with face biometrics has drawn a legal complaint under the Illinois’ biometric privacy law as well, as has a McDonald’s franchisee’s use of voice biometrics at its drive-thrus.
American lawmakers have crafted dozens of privacy bills in dozens of states in recent years, only to have Amazon flex its lobbying muscle to quash or undermine them, according to a Reuters Special Report. From pouring money into Virginia to encourage lawmakers to pass a privacy bill it wrote to winning exemptions for voice recordings to protect Alexa-powered devices elsewhere, the article strongly suggests a company exercising undue influence with ease.
A dispute between Idemia Identity & Security and former employee Charles Carrol, now CEO of IBT, has raised troubling allegations on both personal and national security levels. The latest twist is in court documents suggesting that Idemia outsourced key development work to companies operating in Eastern Europe and South Asia in violation of agreements with U.S. regulations. Idemia tells Biometric Update the allegations are unfounded.
Armenia has begin planning to issue biometric passports, Zimbabwe has approved the design of its new passports and Nepal has reached the issuance stage. Georgia is taking a donation of passport scanners from the IOM with EU support, Nigeria and Belarus updated their issuance numbers, and even Afghanistan is expanding its system.
Smart city camera deployments with biometric technology from Oosto in Tel Aviv and Vsblty in Mexico are being lauded for their public security benefits. Smart city technology is expected to generate revenues nearly double their current total in five years; $873.7 billion.
The $763 million Acuant acquisition by GBG creates a global digital identity leader, with data, document, biometrics and analytics services across the entire identity lifecycle. Acuant’s U.S. positioning is emphasized by GBG and subsidiary IDology in the announcement, and the combined entities have annual revenue of over $350 million.
Keyless was acquired by Sift for an undisclosed amount to integrate passwordless biometric authentication with payment fraud prevention systems, but based on a $9.2 million early-series funding round earlier this year, the question may be whether it was for eight or nine digits.
Stytch continued the passwordless investment hot streak the very next day with $90 million Series B. The company has reached a billion dollars valuation even as it continues to roll out products, including its pending device biometrics product.
It is possible to mitigate the crush of online fraud while satisfying increasingly demanding consumers by embracing the complexity made possible by layered technologies and MFA, Veratad Technologies CEO John E. Ahrens writes in a Biometric Update guest post. Ahrens provides guidance on how to select a verification solution and urges flexibility.
Please let us know of any content we should share with the biometrics and broader digital ID community in the comments below or through social media.