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Thales inks biometrics and smart city deal in Vietnam, discusses ethical facial recognition

Thales inks biometrics and smart city deal in Vietnam, discusses ethical facial recognition

Thales has signed an extensive deal with Vietnam’s VNPT to accelerate the country’s digital transformation with biometrics, smart city and other technologies.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed in the presence of the Prime Ministers of France and Vietnam, outline an ambitious set of goals around digitizing Vietnam’s economy, strengthening its cybersecurity and telecommunications infrastructure, and supporting digital identity. ‘Digital Identity & Biometrics’ is one of four “key digital topics” identified in the arrangement.

The digital ID aspect will include a secure ID wallet project for digitized ID documents for remote and online identity verification. VNPT is the government-owned telecommunications and postal service provider in the country, and developed and implemented Vietnam’s civil registry database.

Thales has also supplied technology for smart and safe city projects in Mexico City and Nice, France, according to its website.

Position paper on Responsible and Ethical Facial Recognition

Thales has also published a new position paper on designing ethical and socially accountable facial recognition systems.

The 11-page e-book begins by touching on how many faces people can recognize, and the accuracy with which they can match people to pictures, what facial recognition is and how it works. Thales explains the difference between authentication and identification, and how the technology is used in airports and large workplaces.

The company characterizes facial recognition as “a mature, reliable, very accurate, fast matching technology,” but also recognizes a set of concerns that could act as roadblocks to its adoption.

General public mistrust is attributed to the newness of the technology, with Thales suggesting that wider communication about how facial recognition works will allay some common fears.

“But to a greater extent, these concerns highlight the need for well-defined legal frameworks and for facial recognition solutions to be used in strict compliance with these,” the company argues.

Differences in accuracy between demographics, or bias, and lack of transparency are also addressed, along with the contrasting legal frameworks for facial recognition in the EU and U.S.

“Our engagement to technologies goes far beyond the quality and the accuracy of our solutions. Today the main stake is not only to launch new solutions but to make sure they are designed to be ethically used, in line with Thales purpose and with people expectations” says Youzec Kurp, VP of Identity & Biometrics Solutions at Thales in the announcement of the position paper. “Biometrics being a highly-sensitive technology it became critical to call for more transparency and ethics in its usage; so we can build the trust we need to welcome such innovations in our daily lives.”

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