Lucrative biometrics contracts for government credentials, authorization unveiled
Biometric technology from Tech5 is being used in the next phase of Ethiopia’s national digital ID enrollment, in one of a series of top headlines for the week relating to government contracts or legislation. An Australian government contract, a series of announcements out of the UK, and a U.S. digital ID bill were among the week’s top stories. On the private sector side, an interview with Smartmetric reveals that Americans may soon be able to use biometric payment cards.
Top biometrics news of the week
A tender for collecting biometrics from visa applicants has been launched in Australia for a new process launching next March. Contracted service providers will collect the biometric data of applicants abroad, verify applicant’s information and match their identities before passing them along to the Home Affairs Department for further processing, The new application process is expected to be more efficient amid a surge in demand for visas.
Facial recognition accuracy has improved dramatically for faces occluded with masks as a direct result of increased prioritization for algorithm training. Masks printed with adversarial patterns by a team of Israeli researchers, however, allow the wearer’s face to be detected but not matched by current deep learning models.
Ethiopia is further deploying a biometric engine and digital ID solutions from Tech5 in its foundational national ID system, built on MOSIP, following a successful trial. The T5-ABIS BE will be used during the pre-launch phase for quality assessment, de-duplication and enrollment, with the country targeting 10 to 12 million registered by the end of next year.
The date for an announcement about who has been chosen for a contract for producing the DRC’s biometric passports has come and gone, without word on the provider. Reports suggest that Semlex or a related company will keep the contract, beating out several other international bidders.
Smartmetric has a plan to win the biometric payment card market in the U.S., with battery-powered cards with on-board storage for multiple applications. CEO Chaya Hendrick tells Biometric Update in an interview about the status of its product, drops hints about the sensor supplier and possible time to North American trials.
The next phase in UK government trials of biometric self-enrollment systems is testing biometric sensors, document scanning and OCR technologies, and is planned to conclude on August 5. Home Office was not particularly impressed with the technologies on offer in the first round.
A bill has been proposed in both UK Houses of Parliament which could close the Biometrics Commissioner’s Office, establish a new trust framework for digital ID and digital birth records, and data protection mechanisms. The proposal would drastically change data protection oversight, as the government attempts to seize “the benefits of Brexit.”
The UK Government also reviewed its national AI strategy, and its differences from the EU’s approach. The Information Commissioner’s Office set out its own three-year plan, which focuses on greater engagement with businesses and the public.
The majority of people in the UK support a program to use digital ID cards for migrants to prevent people with rejected claims from working and settling anyway, according to a survey the Tony Blair Institute. The Institute suggests the scheme as one of several measures to reduce the flow of migrants to the Kingdom.
The Home Office has been accused of failing to collect the biometrics it is supposed to from asylum seekers, meanwhile, and announced new plans to increase biometrics collection from immigrant and travelers.
London police put a new spin on operational trials of live facial recognition technology during July, paying some people to participate. Big Brother Watch says some of those employed for the biometric performance tests were as young as 14, and that the trial again showed the technology to be inaccurate. For their part, police say the facial and license plate recognition trials netted 11 arrests, with a July 7 deployment batting four-for-four on alerts.
A U.S. proposal to put a framework for digital identity in place in that country has advanced to the floor of the House, and along with a similar version further behind in the Senate has bi-partisan support. Digital IDs could be issued by each state, but to a national standard.
Credence ID’s Bruce Hanson has been returned to the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa for another two years. First appointed in 2019, Hanson will serve as one of 24 experts helping to further develop economic ties between the country and the continent.
Fingerprint Cards says it has now shipped more than 1.5 billion biometric sensors since 2014. It is a notable accomplishment as well as testament to the industry’s growth.
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