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Challenges in face biometrics addressed with new tech and research amid high stakes

Challenges in face biometrics addressed with new tech and research amid high stakes

Big biometrics contracts and deals were the theme of several of the stories on that drew the most interest from Biometric Update readers this week, along with challenges for facial recognition. Idemia is providing a biometric back-end upgrade for Nigeria’s national ID, and the acquisitions of Onfido by Entrust and Vision-Box by Amadeus are now complete. Meanwhile public trust, facial surgery, morph attacks and image quality are getting attention from regulators, researchers and standards committees.

Top biometrics news of the week

A public announcement of a new digital ID card in Nigeria followed by explanation from a NIMC official have touched off a wave of confusion and criticism. The AfriGo multi-purpose card is intended to provide access to financial services and social benefits, but many Nigerians took to social media to complain about the growing number of cards and credentials they are expected to possess.  Nigeria is upgrading the back end of its biometric ID system, meanwhile, through a contract with Idemia to implement its IBRS matching system, which can support records for 250 million people.

Ethiopia is in the process of contracting hardware for its national digital ID program, with support from the World Bank. Bids for the Ethiopia Digital Foundations Project are due by April 16, and closely follow a procurement process for printing services to support the country’s national ID program. The country has also passed a data protection law, which legislators emphasize is particularly important in light of its digital ID and government initiatives.

NCRA Deputy Director of ICT Moses T.F. Vibbie talks to Biometric Update about Sierra Leone’s successful MOSIP pilot and the place of the national ID in the country’s digital transformation. Vibbie explains the value of MOSIP for Sierra Leone, as a country building on an established ID system. The government has also extended the deadline for obtaining the national ID card.

The year’s two largest biometrics acquisitions so far have closed, with Entrust’s deal for Onfido and Amadeus’ agreement with Vision-Box both receiving final approvals from the relevant boards and regulators. The combined price of the two face biometrics providers could approach a billion dollars.

“You can argue that almost everything AI does is a kind of pattern recognition,” TypingDNA CEO and Co-founder Raul Popa says during a recent appearance on the From the Ground Up podcast. Popa explains how he was inspired by the use of analytics in advertising to develop the company’s behavioral biometrics in a wide-ranging interview that also touches on regional political differences and determining the scope of a startup.

A joint statement from EU and U.S. officials describes the progress made and next steps towards alignment on standards for digital identity. While the NIST SP800-63 guidelines do not address trust services, the sides are otherwise close in definitions and approaches, and will continue working towards transatlantic interoperability.

Live facial recognition is netting individuals wanted by London police for crimes from the very serious to the relatively mundane, in part through a volume of scans that exceeds 100 per minute in some areas. The UK government has committed £55.5 million to facial recognition over the next four years to expand the technology’s use. Scotland’s Biometrics Commissioner, meanwhile, has published a report cautioning authorities of the fragility of public trust.

Cosmetic surgery can make a significant difference to the ability of facial recognition systems to match a person’s face with an image from before they go under the knife, but injections like Botox have less impact. Biometrics researchers determined how much system performance is affected by different types of facial surgery, but not a way around it.

The second workshop held by the EU’s iMARS initiative reports “tremendous progress” on algorithms to detect face image morphing, but 10-year passport validity and remote enrollment remain major challenges. Authorities say incidents of morphing attacks are increasing, and iMARS is seeking to extend its mandate past August to continue working on the problem. Several municipalities in the Netherlands are considering requiring in-person biometrics enrollment for passport applications to prevent fraud like morphing.

The Draft International Standard ISO/IEC 29794-5 and the Open Source Face Image Quality assessment tool have each been made available by the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 37 Biometrics committee. OFIQ evaluates image quality for suitability for facial recognition, while the new draft standard defines a unified quality score.

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

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