International Identity Day an opportunity for knowledge sharing for Idemia
September 16 is International Identity Day, in recognition of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 16.9. The Goal is to provide universal legal identity including birth registration by 2030, as part of the broader goal of promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies.
ID Day was launched at ID4Africa 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria, and has grown to include celebrations at countries around the world.
Biometrics providers are also lending their support to ID Day, and Idemia VP of Identity Solutions Julien Drouet explains to Biometric Update that it represents an opportunity for the people who make up the company to reflect on the real-world impact that their work can have on people’s lives.
Idemia’s corporate values of “curious, trusted, caring, daring and together” relate directly to the mission of SDG 16.9, Drouet points out. Connecting with these values through projects that support SDG 16.9, and recognizing them on International Identity Day is important to employee sense of worth, Drouet says, as well as for raising awareness about the importance of the goal.
What to look for in an identity program
Governments establishing civil registries and digital identity programs need to ensure the security of those systems and credentials.
Identity credentials can take the form of a centralized database and an associated number, as in the case of in India. In other countries, they are stored on the chip of the citizen’ eID, for example in Morocco. Also, in other models, like in the U.S., existing credentials are digitized in a mobile ID. A lot of countries are gradually adopting these trends. For each model, different use cases can be implemented in order to easily and securely access to many services.
Security should be considered throughout the identity solutions development, Drouet says, as in the DevSecOps methodology Idemia uses. The security of the technology itself is only part of the picture, however.
“We also need to look at the regulation and the standards that are used in order to implement and to anchor the processes that we use and their security,” he says. “Standards are key in order to guarantee a proper level of security.”
In addition to ISO and other standards for security and the exchange of information between different entities, there is the Open Standards Identity API (OSIA).
Originally formed to address the perception that vendor lock-in was holding identity projects back, OSIA holds regular meetings with a group of advisors from governments around the world. Those meetings inform the group’s ongoing work, which has recently turned to security.
“We have two general meetings with governments each year, one in April and in November-December, where we ask them what they want us to work on,” Drouet says. “One of them is a recommendation and position on security and privacy. So we’ve been working on that.”
Legal ID and service delivery
A large focus of Idemia’s ID Day participation is social media engagement over the week leading up to September 16.
India’s Aadhaar program sought to provide an identity to largest national population in the world, starting from scratch and using biometrics as the basis for unique ID numbers.
“They had this vision and we worked with them to build the solution,” Drouet recounts.
Morocco had a very different approach. They decided to give citizens the possibility to access to government and private sector services via their eID card. Idemia provided a digital identity platform based on eID cards with biometric data embedded on microchips for authentication.
Mobile IDs including mobile driver’s licenses are part of a broader trend toward digitizing identity credentials for greater privacy protections and flexibility, and are growing in Latin America and Europe, according to Drouet, as well as the U.S.
Identifying which technological solutions are right for a given situation before making major investments is necessary, Drouet says, warning against a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Idemia will provide details of each program over the course of the week leading up to International Identity Day to help communities understand what will be effective for their identity environment.
Security through biometrics
Drouet notes the fundamental pillars of identity, which ID4Africa lists as inclusion, protection and empowerment.
Biometrics can help with all three, Drouet explains.
“Think about: What are the solutions to prove that only you are you?” he says. “What we have believe in is biometrics. With the right rules and regulation around it, biometrics relies on the most natural, reliable and permanent features. You can’t be mistaken for somebody else, and that way nobody else can get access to your benefits, your services.”
Supporting inclusivity with biometrics has meant dedicating research and development to eliminating algorithmic bias. Drouet points to the scores achieved by Idemia in the latest international NIST Facial Recognition Vendor Test 1:1 by combining fairness and accuracy. Idemia’s algorithm stands out for its capacity to combine both performance and fairness without compromising on either.
In the end, Drouet says, it all comes back to Idemia’s values: curious, trusted, caring, daring and together.
“We need a little bit of each in order to achieve this objective by 2030.”