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Biometrics projects scaling up through open-source releases, big money deals

Biometrics projects scaling up through open-source releases, big money deals
 

Scaling biometrics projects is the theme of the most-read articles of the past week on Biometric Update, with lofty ambitions motivating open-source code releases, large government systems and planning for a blockbuster sale setting up even more deals. A single division of Idemia could fetch a billion dollars in a sale, according to the latest rumors. Kuwait is working towards a regional, full-population biometric security registry and a big-budget biometric surveillance project is in the works in Cameroon. Meanwhile, Worldcoin and Simprints have arrived at making biometric software open-source by different paths.

Top biometrics news of the week

The latest twist in the prospective sale of Idemia is a rumor that the division that makes physical ID documents and digital IDs may be first to go. A report suggests that owner Advent is exploring the possibility of selling Idemia Smart Identity for $1.1 billion, which might allow it to avoid potential antitrust concerns.

Kuwait has told all residents to register their fingerprint biometrics by this coming June 1, and is also planning to share the data with Interpol and the five other countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Over a third of the population has enrolled already, and enrollment is necessary for some government services, but will also contribute to a regional biometric security network.

Pakistan is issuing its next-generation biometric passports with electronic chips embedded, which were first announced in 2022. The e-passports will allow Pakistani travelers to use e-gates at airports around the world. Higher fees have been announced for the different versions and deliver schedules, along with the process for applications and the passports’ security features.

A series of amendments were introduced to Australia’s Digital ID Bill this week in an attempt to secure its passage by the legislature’s upper house. The amendments increase assurance that the national digital ID will remain voluntary, that private sector service providers will be able to participate within two years, and somewhat controversially that racial identifiers will not be included.

The Senate passed the Bill with 43 amendments by a 33 to 26 vote on Wednesday, Information Age reports. This means there were 17 abstentions.

Lakeland, Florida has launched a real-time facial recognition surveillance network that may have the smallest reference database of any such system in the world. The town’s business association has installed 14 cameras to watch out for an initial group of three troublesome individuals, drawing a sharp rebuke from the ACLU.

Cameroon’s government is seeking a loan of close to $54 million to set up a surveillance network with thousands of cameras and facial recognition. The police-led and Huawei-supplied project is part of a smart cities initiative and connects with two command and control centres for video surveillance already in operation to reduce urban crime.

Worldcoin has open-sourced software it describes as “core components” of its iris biometrics collection device, the Orb. The move enables community audits of the company’s data privacy claims, and the announcement reveals several details about how the Orb works, including challenges it encountered around implementing an autofocus function to ensure high-quality images.

Simprints is releasing its front-end Android application as open-source software, as a step towards open-sourcing a full tech stack for digital ID backed with fingerprint biometrics. CEO Toby Norman told Biometric Update in an interview at MOSIP Connect that the move makes integration easier for health ministries and NGOs.

A framework for the regulation of the EU Digital Identity Wallet has been approved by the European Council. The framework is an attempt to increase both the security and accessibility of digital identity for businesses and people, and specifies the linkage of national digital IDs with other credentials.

Firearms with biometric safety features began shipping to retailers in the U.S. this week, with the launch of the Biofire Smart Gun. The pistol is technologically complex, with an electronic signal sent instead of a physical mechanism operated by the trigger. It emerges into a similarly complex consumer market amid a shift in investor attitudes.

A breakdown of the recent settlement between Uber and a driver over the apparent failure of its face biometrics and human reviews by TechCrunch casts serious doubt on the UK ICO’s ability to regulate the biometrics space. The regulator did not intervene in the case, and the article paints a picture of officials prioritizing the deployment of words to address a growing issue.

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