Biometrics Implementations Around the World Undermined by Lack of Consent

By Chris Burt

Biometrics issues related to consent were a theme running through many of the most-read articles of the week on Biometric Update. Digi Yatra sign-ups and DNA research tainted by a lack of consent, like surreptitious searches of passport data with facial recognition by UK police, fuel popular anxieties about biometrics. The industry is well aware. This week’s example is Google turning to a cash incentive in an attempt to build up an ethically-sourced dataset for age verification development. Meanwhile, CES again demonstrates the increasing value consumers place on biometrics. Automotive biometrics featured at the Vegas show include offerings from trinamiX, Precise Biometrics and Cerence.

Top biometrics news of the week

NADRA’s technology development arm NTL has struck a deal with public telecom and IT equipment company NRTC to jointly support the domestic development of biometrics and digital identity-related technologies. NADRA will contribute its expertise gained in the implementation of digital ID solutions based on the Pakistan ID Stack, while NRTC contributes expertise in electronics and software development.

Reports are emerging from India that air travellers were enrolled in the ostensibly voluntary Digi Yatra program without giving their consent or being properly informed. People at multiple airports say travellers were registered en masse for the program, which promises paperless airport experiences through biometrics. Government and airport officials disagreed about who is responsible.

DNA samples were collected from members of two of China’s ethnic minorities on a mandatory basis and then used in academic research, prompting multiple papers to be withdrawn. European researchers blamed the Chinese government for the ethical failing. DNA equipment-maker Thermo Fisher has halted sales in Tibet in response to rights concerns, though the research samples were taken from Uyghur and Kazakh people.

UK police have searched the nation’s database of passport photos with facial recognition algorithms in attempts to identify violent criminals, hundreds of times since at least 2019. The public was never informed, and the practice was first raised as a policy suggestion just months ago. The revelations are raising uncomfortable questions for the government as facial recognition is increasingly adopted for law enforcement and public security, even as oversight is arguably being reduced.

The LAPD is planning a real-time surveillance center, and wants to hook up ten thousand cameras operated by private businesses and individuals to its network. The center and its surveillance camera network are related to a plan to reduce organized retail theft called Project Blue Light.

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Google is working with a subsidiary of Canadian telco Telus to build up a dataset to use in developing facial age verification. TIAI is paying $50 for short videos of children and the consent of their parents.

Joy Buolamwini makes the case in a Wired editorial that this year identity theft and anti-surveillance innovation will each get a boost from increased adoption of biometrics. Buolamwini also sees “the rise of the faceless” and the bifurcation between places where mass surveillance is normalized and “free-face territories.”

AI was the dominant theme of this year’s CES in Las Vegas, and biometrics developers took a prominent part in the massive trade show. Automotive biometrics technologies were showed off by Precise Biometrics and Cerence, among others. New cameras and sensors from Orbbec and other developers were on display, and smart locks provided a range of options for biometric modalities.

TrinamiX unveiled its face biometrics system for both outside the vehicle to unlock doors and inside to start the engine at CES. The Face Authentication Display system has been integrated by Continental, and even Lamborghini is getting in on the automotive biometrics trend.

TSA’s priorities for this year include adding pilots for accepting mobile driver’s licenses and digital IDs at airports to two more states. The agency also wants to double the number of airports where PreCheck members can quickly complete security checks with their face biometrics, according to its 2024 action plan.

Sierra Leone is running a campaign to increase public adoption of its biometric ID cards, made with X Infotech technology. The NCRA has opened facilities across the country for in-person registration, and says obtaining the card is each citizen’s civic responsibility.

Indonesia now says its digital ID will launch in the second half of the year along with a digital payments service and a data exchange platform. Public corporation Peruri is in charge of the countries efforts to upgrade public services with investments in DPI.

Please tell us about any thought leadership or opinion pieces we should share with the people who work in biometrics and the broader digital identity industry, either in the comments below or through social media.

Source: Biometric Update

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