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UK awards $84.4M biometric platform tender to IBM

UK awards $84.4M biometric platform tender to IBM

IBM has won a £65.6 million (US$84.4 million) tender for a biometric matching platform that will bring together biometric databases used by British immigration and law enforcement authorities under one roof.

The United States company will be tasked with building a so-called matcher service platform for the UK’s Home Office, the ministry charged with border control and law and order. The department has been on a mission to create a “core platform for biometric matching and identification services,” which includes joining separate systems for matching fingerprints and faces. The overall cost of the program is estimated to exceed £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion).

This contract initially is for five years with an option to extend by three years.

In 2020, IBM won a £7 million ($9.2 million) contract to work with the National Law Enforcement Data Service (LEDS) to develop a biometric “mega-database” for crime prevention and safety. The deal attracted criticism from advocacy groups such as Privacy International, which argues LEDS is a threat to civil liberties.

According to the contract, one of IBM’s tasks is moving data from the current Immigration and Asylum Biometrics System to the matcher platform. The company is also expected to move other migration and border control databases to the new database, including those held by the HM Passport Office; the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows EU and other citizens to reside in the UK; and the Future Borders and Immigration System, a project to modernize the UK’s border-control operations.

Aside from the biometric matching platform, IBM will need to update the UK government’s IDENT1 database, which provides enrolment and identity management for law enforcement.

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