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Biometrics trials to replace passport checks, ID cards for healthcare indicate trend

Biometrics trials to replace passport checks, ID cards for healthcare indicate trend

Biometrics are replacing identity documents in two of the most-read stories on Biometric Update this week, at least on a trial basis. Passports are still a necessary part of the traveler identity verification system, however, and being upgraded in several countries, while birth registration policies are changing in Nigeria. Though it was a relatively quiet first week of 2024 for many businesses, General Dynamic won a major biometrics contract in the U.S., and Worldcoin announced its latest expansion of biometric enrollments.

Top biometrics news of the week

Passports bearing chips with biometric data are replacing documents with machine-readable zones on a mandatory basis in Pakistan, with a launch planned as soon as this year. In Israel, travelers with legacy passports will not be able to use automated border control systems at the country’s largest airport, while in Russia, the government is planning to transition to biometric passports for public service access. Libya is planning to issue machine readable biometric passports, and Nigeria is nearing readiness of its automated passport application system.

Face biometrics are also replacing passports for entry into the UK on a trial basis. The system is intended to process air travellers faster, more easily and securely, and will integrate with the ETA system. Canada has issued an RFI to consider its options to do the same, while Vietnam is planning to continue using face biometrics, but with passports including microchips.

Nigeria is reforming its birth registration system to allow only one change to each person’s official date-of-birth, and only through application to NIMC. The policy change comes amid concerns of extortion and delays in ID document issuance and corrections. The government also claims a backlog of 2.5 million modifications to national digital identity numbers has been cleared.

AI holds promise to address challenges for African people in several fields, including agriculture and health care, academic and President of the Senegalese Association for Artificial Intelligence Seydina Moussa Ndiaye tells United Nations Türkiye in an interview. Ndiaye also has concerns, however, about the potential for the spread of AI to become a kind of “digital colonization,” with foreign corporations holding Africans’ data and using the continent to experiment. The pan-African strategy which will soon be added to several countries’ dedicated strategies for AI could help, he says.

Four former officials with Pakistan’s national ID authority, NADRA, have been arrested for allegedly selling fake biometric national ID cards to ineligible foreigners. NADRA and law enforcement have cracked down on fake ID cards, rescinding 18,000. The fees to renew the ID cards have also been increased.

Residents of Montana and North Carolina can no longer access popular pornography website Pornhub, after the site blocked access in response to incoming age verification laws. A senator from Utah, which has state-level restrictions that previously prompted the same response, has proposed federal legislation to strengthen age restrictions for online porn.

The U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council says digital identity frameworks on either side of the North Atlantic are fairly compatible, and should not hinder interoperability. The difference most likely to pose a stumbling block appears to be the separation of assurance levels for identities, authenticators and federation in the U.S., but not the EU.

General Dynamics continued a run of major contract wins from the U.S. government for biometrics services with a $386 million award by DHS. The company will operate and maintain infrastructure for the Office of Biometric Identity Management, including its Data Center 1.

Healthcare workers at hospitals for American veterans will be authenticated with face biometrics for access control in a pilot this year. The VA is hoping to find a way to speed up logins, while strengthening cybersecurity, compared to the use of PIV cards.

The acquisition of a fleet of drones that could potentially be used for facial recognition is causing surveillance concerns in Serbia. Likewise, commercial sales of biometric cameras and fingerprint scanners in neighboring Kosovo. In both cases, there are laws in place to protect the public, but also an apparent lack of oversight.

Worldcoin has begun enrolling the iris biometrics of people in Singapore at four locations, as it continues its international expansion. The company is registering users in more cities on four countries on three continents, and also planning to resume operations in Kenya.

Please let us know of any interviews, editorials or other content we should share with the people in biometrics and the digital identity community in the comments below or through social media.

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