Thursday, January 31, 2013

A couple of municipal fingerprint time-and-attendance deployments going badly

INDIA: SDMC staff misusing biometric attendance system (Jagran Post)
According to the sources, most of the Municipal Corporation staff has given their fake thumb impressions to their colleagues who mark their attendance in their absence. Some workers raised the issue before the higher authorities but all the efforts went in vain.

SOUTH AFRICA: Council pays for unused system (Independent Online)
The costs are mounting, yet an electronic time management system installed to provide efficiency and control in the Hibiscus Coast municipality, almost three years ago, has still not been used. The biometric system which reads the fingerprints of workers to record what time they start and finish, was supposed to replace the current manual attendance register.

A lot of biometric ID management installations come down to managerial, rather than technical, challenges. This is especially true for biometric time-and-attendance systems.

Technically, biometric time-and-attendance systems are pretty straightforward but they can't manage a business all by themselves. An organization that wants to maximize its Return on Investment in biometric ID management systems, will view the technology as a tool supporting able managers, not as a substitute for managerial skill.

For similar thoughts and other examples, see:
Business Management & Biometric Time-and-Attendance (I took the two paragraphs just above from this one);

Good Help is Hard to Find;

UK pays £22.5 million for 'questionable' Democratic Republic of Congo election; and

Technology and Management working together can help improve public payments system

India's UID affecting the political dialogue elsewhere

The US political issue of whether or how best to confer some sort of legal status upon some individuals currently living within the United States without that legal status is getting a lot of attention. The United States's last attempt at sweeping immigration reform was in 1986. Since then, it's been baby steps.

The linked article provides more detail for why that might be, but the part that caught my eye is the basic formulation: "If India can execute a biometric project for over a billion people, it should be possible to apply biometrics to this, far less daunting, challenge."

For example:
Michael Barone commentary: Stars are aligning for a law on immigration that might work (Columbus Dispatch)
So what are the reasons to think such legislation would produce different results from those of the 1986 law?
[...S]omething feasible now that wasn’t back then: an identity card linked to a database with biometric identification. India is now creating such a system for its 1.2 billion people. Why can’t we do that for many fewer immigrants and visa holders?
India's UID project is giving the rest of the world confidence that long-neglected issues can be addressed through a combination of political will and new technology. I expect we'll be seeing a lot more examples from around the world.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Philippines: Manila development authority adopts fingerprint biometrics in bus dispatch and monitoring system

UPDATED - January 31 below:

MMDA to begin biometrics-based bus monitoring system Jan. 31 (GMA News)
On Thursday, Jan. 31, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority will put in effect a biometric-based bus dispatch and monitoring system to regulate the number of public utility buses along EDSA.

The Bus Management and Dispatch System (BMDS), also monitors the drivers of these buses, the MMDA said Wednesday.

"Our aim is to instill discipline among PUB drivers and make them aware that we at the MMDA, together with other agencies, are capable of monitoring them, especially their driving behavior," the MMDA website quoted chairman Francis Tolentino as saying.
According to the article, the new system meets several goals associated with the smooth running of the Manila bus system, a system that involves central coordination of many private providers. The new system seeks to better coordinate the providers to provide optimum service levels as demand changes and to better insure that the drivers don't have too many outstanding traffic violations.

Finally, MMDA stops bus driver with 99 violations (Inquirer News)
Before he could be issued a ticket for his 100th traffic violation, this bus driver was told to keep off the road on the first day of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) Bus Management and Dispatch System (BMDS).

MMDA Assistant General Manager Emerson Carlos said the man, one of several drivers grounded on Thursday, was shown to have 99 unsettled traffic tickets.

Launched Thursday, the BMDS seeks to cut down the number of unsafe buses on the road by preventing public utility bus (PUB) drivers with previous traffic records from even driving out of their terminals.

Under the scheme, drivers have to undergo fingerprint or biometric scanning at designated dispatch terminals before they are given the go signal to ply their routes.
That didn't take long! This and 284 other drivers were grounded on the first day of the new system's operation.

It's not clear that it was the fingerprint provision of the new program that caught out the bus driver with 99 unaddressed violations but it does give the reader a sense of the issues the MMDA is grappling with.

US: Biometrics figure in President's immigration policy overhaul

A plan to fix immigration system (Record Online)
Obama's plan requires people living in the U.S. illegally to register, submit biometric data, pass criminal background and national security checks, and pay fees and taxes before becoming eligible for legal status. After eight years, they would be eligible for legal permanent resident status and five years later could apply for citizenship. They enter the green card application system behind everyone else already waiting for permits. Children brought to the country illegally by their parents would be eligible for expedited citizenship if they attend college or complete two years of military service. The president also supports equal treatment of same-sex couples when one partner is from outside the U.S. That provision isn't included in the Senate framework and may be a flash point with Republicans who oppose offering equal rights to same-sex couples.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Washington, DC: Biometrics event hosted by the Center for Global Development

Click for information or to register:
Identification and the Biometrics Revolution: Can ID be Harnessed for Development?

Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM - (GMT-05:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Center for Global Development, First Floor Conference Center
1800 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, District of Columbia

This event will bring together technical and development experts at the forefront of this new technology to discuss the role of identification in development, how biometrics are used in the field, what advances are likely in the future and how they might best be supported by donors, and what changes are needed to make the most of the biometrics revolution.

The CGD does good work.

Around the web...

I've been swamped with other duties and unfortunately the blog has borne the brunt. Here's a round-up of links that deserve a whole lot more attention than I can give them but I didn't want them to fall through the cracks entirely.


How Biometric Tech Can be Useful for Small Businesses (PC Quest)

The Potential of Biometric Patient Identification to Identify “Mystery” Patients (M2SYS Blog)

Interview with Ramsey Billups, Vice President Biometric Solutions, 3M Cogent (findBIOMETRICS)

False-passport case highlights gap in NZ's border security (New Zealand Herald)

Unprecedented, unmanned southwest border checkpoint opens Jan. 28 (Next Gov)

FBI, DHS team up to nab border intruders with iris biometrics

FBI and DHS team up to nab border intruders with iris biometrics (NextGov)
The FBI is partnering with the Homeland Security Department to identify border trespassers by exchanging digital eye scans of booked offenders, bureau officials said.

Iris recognition -- which matches a digital image of the unique, colored portion of an individual’s eye against archived photos -- quickly ensures authorities have fingered the right crook, advocates say. Critics say iris capture invades privacy and wrongfully pulls immigrants into the deportation system.

Monday, January 28, 2013

NIST seeks to refine standards for oral biometric modalities, among others

NIST Biometric Workshop Studies Voice, Dental, Oral Standards (Press Release via Thomas Net)
A working group of international dental and forensic experts has developed a draft dental and oral biometric data record that would ease identification of bodies in disasters such as an airplane crash. For instance, if bodies are burned beyond recognition, photographs or fingerprints might not offer practical means of identification; in such instances, forensic analysts turn next to dental and oral information. Developing this standard was challenging due to the variety of ways dentists around the keep dental records, but could offer an interoperable mechanism to exchange such information in the future.

“Oral” measurements and images include attributes such as lip prints and soft palate impressions. Lip prints can sometimes be linked to specific persons and may be found on objects at crime scenes.

The proposed Dental and Oral Supplement would enable the exchange of images and descriptions of pattern injuries on persons, some of which may resemble bite marks, and to allow transmission of imagery such as X-rays and sonograms.

The workshop also will collect information to develop recommended best practices for identifying disaster victims. A panel will discuss the use of various biometric data in identifying victims, including DNA, facial characteristics, tattoos, dental records and fingerprints. This project is in conjunction with the international Scientific Working Group for Disaster Victim Identification
More at the link above.

Citi unveils bank branch-in-a-box

Citi launches new ATM in Asia (Banking Business Review)
Citi has rolled out a new ATM in Asia, Citibank Express, which enables customers to perform nearly all banking jobs including opening accounts and applying for loans, cards and cashier’s checks, without visiting a branch.

New machines are already being installed in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, while installation at in-branch and out-of-branch locations across Asia and globally will follow later this year.

For customer identity authentication, the new machine is outfitted with an online banking connection, video-conferencing and biometric capability.
Malaysia & Singapore are already at the forefront of biometric deployments so it's no surprise Citi is rolling out the machines there first.

A brief history of personalized ("smart") firearms

Push for futuristic guns builds on embattled past (Houma Today)
It sounds, at first, like a bold, next-generation solution: personalizing guns with technology that keeps them from firing if they ever get into the wrong hands.

But when the White House called for pushing ahead with such new technology as part of President Obama’s plan to cut gun violence, the administration did not mention the concept’s embattled past. As with so much else in the nation’s long-running divisions over gun rights and regulation, what sounds like a futuristic vision is, in fact, an idea that has been kicked around for years, sidelined by intense suspicion, doubts about feasibility and pressure tactics.
The Associated Press has an article out today that covers the history of the "smart gun" both as a political issue and as a technology.

Friday, January 25, 2013

US: Iowa bank adds biometrics into customer ID mix

Bridge Community Bank introduces in-branch biometric security (Finextra)
...[C]ustomers submit fingerprint and facial biometric data as well as their name, address, date and country of birth and gender. Tascet uses this data to generate a 16-digit 'financial security number' which is linked to the customer account. To identify themselves in a branch and carry out transactions, customers then provide their name and fingerprint.
This is exactly the kind of thing we predicted in the wake of Patco Construction v People's United Bank.
[B]anks [now] have more responsibility to shield their business customers from fraud. That responsibility, however, will entail a cost that will ultimately be borne by customers in higher fees — applied directly to this this case, wiring fees. But if not appealed and/or upheld, it means banks will be offering customers more security and charging higher prices, part of which will flow to security providers including biometric ID management providers.
Bridge Community Bank is in Iowa.

Sorting out voice technologies

On the occasion of Amazon's purchase of Ivona, The Verge has a good article sorting out various voice technologies.

 Key bit:
  • Text-to-speech: reads text that's already been written into something approaching a human-sounding voice (Ivona, AT&T, Microsoft, many others);
  • Speech-to-text: transcribes what you say word-for-word into text (Dragon, Yap);
  • Voice recognition: biometric that knows who you are based on your voice (like in Sneakers);
  • Natural-language AI: transcribes speech and/or parses text, looking for keywords and structure to turn ordinary sentences into computer queries (Siri's core technology).
  • Those interested in voice tech should click through.

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    Not the bee's knees

    Biometrics Using Internal Body Parts: Knobbly Knees in Competition With Fingerprints (Science Daily)
    Forget digital fingerprints, iris recognition and voice identification, the next big thing in biometrics could be your knobbly knees. Just as a fingerprints and other body parts are unique to us as individuals and so can be used to prove who we are, so too are our kneecaps. Computer scientist Lior Shamir of Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, has now demonstrated how a knee scan could be used to single us out.
    Every once in a while a version of the above paragraph finds itself in the news...

    Forget digital fingerprints, iris recognition and voice identification, the next big thing in biometrics could be your ______________.

    Bone structure or electric conductivity?

    I suspect that any definable aspect of the human anatomy could be used as a biometric identifier. In instances where teeth are all that is known about an individual, they are used for high confidence identification.

    A good biometric modality must be: unique, durable, and easily measurable. If any of these are missing, widespread use for ID management isn't in the cards. If something is unique and durable but isn't easily measurable, it can still be useful but it isn't going to become ubiquitous in automated (or semi-automated) technology. Teeth and DNA fit this model. Teeth have been used to determine the identity of dead bodies with a high degree of certainty for a long time, but we aren't going to be biting any sensors to get into our computers any time soon — or ever. Likewise with DNA.

    There is also the challenge of proving that a modality is in fact unique, durable and easily measurable which requires a whole lot of experimental data and (especially regarding uniqueness) a healthy dose of statistical analysis. I'm no statistician, and from what I understand, the statistical rules for proving biometric uniqueness aren't fully developed yet anyway, so let's just leave things in layman's terms and say that if you're wanting to invent a new biometric modality and someone asks you how big a data set of samples of the relevant body part you need, your best answer is "how many can you get me?" 

    In order to ascertain uniqueness you need samples from as many different people as you can get. For durability you need biometric samples for the same person taken over a period of time and multiplied by a lot of people. 

    Ease of measure is more experiential and will be discovered during the experimentation process. The scientists charged with collecting the samples from real people will quickly get a feel for the likelihood that people would adapt to a given ID protocol.

    For two common biometric modalities, face and fingerprint, huge data repositories have existed since well before there was any such thing as a biometric algorithm. Jails (among others) had been collecting this information for a hundred years and the nature of the jail business means you'll get several samples from the same subject often enough to test durability, too, over their criminal life. For face, other records such as school year books exist and were readily available to researchers who sought to test the uniqueness and durability of the human face.

    Iris, voice, and the vascular biometrics of the hand (palm, finger) have apparently joined face and fingerprint biometrics in achieving wide-scale commercial viability despite the lack of historic data repositories. They either occupy prime real estate on the head and the end of the arm (Iris, vein), or they are the only biometric that can be used over a ubiquitous infrastructure that simply isn't going anywhere (voice/phone).  

    In order to displace finger/hand and face/eye biometrics in wide scale deployments, novel biometric modalities will have to out-compete them on two levels: in the lab and in the market meaning they will have to offer out-sized advantages in order to justify the R&D outlay required to "catch up". This is highly unlikely to happen with any novel modality.

    In order to thrive as high value-added tools in highly specialized deployments, however, a novel modality just needs to help solve a high value problem (teeth, DNA).

    Any biometric modality can be useful, especially if it’s the only one available. But that's not likely ever to be the case for many of these novel modalities, knees included.

    South Dakota School of Mines & Technology embarks on ambitious ID program

    A cashless society and fingerprint payments are on the horizon (Mail & Guardian)
    The programme makes South Dakota School of Mines & Technology the first in the world to test life as a biometrics campus using foil-proof biocryptology that goes beyond a fingerprint to read multiple layers into the skin and detect haemoglobin in the blood.

    The patented technology on the back-end turns each finger scan into a series of valueless numbers that change every time the finger is introduced.

    Data encryption ensures security, as the numbers can’t be reproduced in a meaningful way, not by merchants, law enforcement, hackers or even Nexus Smart Pay.

    SDSMT also recently made news when it was revealed that its graduates earned more upon graduation than Harvard grads.
    Those leaving the college of 2,300 students this year got paid a median salary of $56,700, according to PayScale Inc., which tracks employee compensation data from surveys. At Harvard, where tuition fees are almost four times higher, they got $54,100. Those scheduled to leave the campus in Rapid City, South Dakota, in May are already getting offers, at a time when about one in 10 recent U.S. college graduates is out of work.
    SDSMT seems to be doing a lot of things right.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    Facial recognition for better television ratings

    Nielsen Explores Facial Recognition Tech For Ratings
    Privacy issues remain, acknowledged Fuhrer. But given the ubiquity of facial recognition-equipped devices, he adds: “There’s a tremendous amount of acceptance” compared to just a few years ago. And there’s also a “layer of anonymity” that can be applied to any facial analysis system deployed by Nielsen, Fuhrer said.
    The Neilsen Company has been the gold standard for television ratings in the US. Now, they're contemplating the application of facial recognition technology in televisions that support it in order to get more detailed information about the viewing habits of those included in their survey.

    Nielsen pays its sample and is really transparent about the information is collects from individuals. My guess is that the biggest new privacy issue at work here is the potential abuse of non-Neilsen information gained by having access to a working video camera in each of the new smartTv's.

    UPDATE: See also Unilever, Coca-Cola Utilize Facial Analysis To Enhance Ad Tests

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    A survey of biometric modalities and their social impact

    Biometrics Looks To Solve Identity Crisis (Electronic Design)
    You see them in blockbuster movies and high-tech TV shows—biometric systems that rely on fingerprints, facial recognition, and other physical and behavioral data to provide identification. But these technologies have moved past the sci-fi genre, and even beyond the high-security arena. They’re hitting the mainstream now. In fact, you may even be using some of them already.
    This is just the introductory paragraph. The whole article is worth reading.

    IAFIS: Biometrics ID some rough customers crossing the New Mexico border

    New Mexico border agents arrest 2 convicted murderers; seize pot (Las Curces Sun-News)
    On Saturday agents assigned to the Lordsburg station encountered a group of people who illegally entered the United States. Biometric information was submitted into the Integrated Automated Identification System (IAFIS), which revealed that one subject, later identified as 40-year old Inocencio Noveron Sostenes from Mexico, was convicted of murder in 2004, and served several years in prison. The subject will be criminally prosecuted on a prior order of removal and returned back to Mexico after re-instatement.

    The following day, agents assigned to the Interstate 10 checkpoint west of Las Cruces encountered a Jamaican national traveling in a rental vehicle to Los Angeles. The subject's biometric information was submitted into the IAFIS Data Base. It revealed 44-year-old Sirano Thompson had an extensive criminal history to include, but not limited to, a conviction for attempted first degree murder in Florida.

    India: Finance Ministry urges banks to adopt biometric ATM's

    Finger print based ATMs coming soon (Hindustan Times)
    Your finger print or eye scan may soon be enough to withdraw cash from ATMs. For that, you will require a biometric based Aadhaar number. In a bid to encourage higher enrollment for unique identification or Aadhaar number, the finance ministry has asked all public sector and rural banks to speed up setting up biometric cash dispensers.

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Hardware & ID Security: PC vs Mobile

    Mobile banking to hit 1 billion users by 2017
    Fortunately for the consumer, mobile devices often contain technologies such as GPS that track the user’s location, front-facing cameras that can be used for face-recognition, and other biometric tools such as voice recognition technology and in some cases fingerprint technology. In December, Ben Knieff, head of fraud at financial crime and technology specialist NICE Actimize told Banking Technology that mobile banking could eventually become safer than online banking.

    “While consumers didn’t like biometrics ten or even five years ago, rising usage of the technology on sites like Facebook has made it more acceptable,” he said. “Consumer sentiment is changing, and I believe there could actually be an opportunity to use some of these technologies to make mobile banking even safer than internet banking is today.”
    The whole article is worth reading but two points in the second paragraph quoted above are especially thought-provoking.

    That's the first time I've seen the Facebook face recognition issue turned on its head like that. Stories of outrage at the Facebook facial recognition app are easy to find. Whether this has more to do with Facebook's User Agreement policies or biometric technology is a subject for another day, but is it possible that as suggested above, by putting people into contact with the technology the Facebook face rec kerfuffle has made biometrics more acceptable to the networked public?

    Another fascinating item in the second paragraph is the notion that mobile banking can be inherently safer than online banking conducted through desktop or laptop computers. We discussed some of the reasons for this in Mobile Devices and Biometric Modalities, but the reasons why authentication via mobile devices may be more rigorous than that using other hardware go beyond biometrics. Mobile devices are quite simply capable of covering all of the factors listed below. In a multifactor authentication model, the more factors that can be determined simultaneously, the higher the confidence in the authentication transaction.
    Here they are.

    Something you have (tokens: key, prox card, mobile phone, etc.)
    Something you know (passwords, PINS, codes, high school mascot, etc.)
    Something you are (biometrics: eye, voice, face, fingerprint)
    Where you are (location: IP address, cellular signal, GPS, in the bank branch)
    When you are (time)

    Mobile hardware supports all the factors above and, in the factors with bold face, mobile platform security exceeds the security attributes of PC hardware. Mobiles make better tokens because they aren't often shared, they have blue tooth, near filed communication (NFC), wi-fi capabilities for external signaling and, of course, they're mobile. They support passwords (OK, maybe not quite as conveniently as PC's). Two biometric sensors, the camera and microphone, come stock on all mobiles. They know where you are at all times.

    The what time it is question is a draw in the current discussion. Both technologies in question (mobile vs. PC) are equally ignored here because the question of time is answered on the server side; i.e. you can't avoid late fees by setting the clock back on your PC when you make last month's payment online. Payees have their own clocks. I just included it because it's a real factor and there are ID/security applications where an individual is treated differently at different times of the day. Time also comes up in combination with location. Credit cards run fifteen minutes apart in gas stations separated by 1,000 miles raise suspicion.

    That's the theory anyway. In theory, mobile hardware can facilitate higher confidence ID authentication. In practice the security vulnerabilities of the PC world are better understood. There are several household names offering services that maintain PC hardware as a virus/trojan/worm free environment. Uptake of similar technologies has yet to take off with mobile hardware. That will change, though, if more people use mobile hardware to handle their finances.

    African democracy: Sierra Leone and Ghana

    Sierra Leone and Ghana: Setting a New Template for African Elections? (Think Africa Press) Though "mature" Ghana and "fragile" Sierra Leone are rarely compared in terms of their democracies, their elections followed notably similar trends. One of these trends was biometric voter registration. Ghana took it a step further with biometric voter verification.

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    Nepal: Biometric election registration

    Biometric voters list with 10.9 million voters ready (The Himalayan Times)
    The Election Commission has developed a biometric voters' list with 10.9 million eligible voters, who have so far registered at the Commission along with finger print and a photograph.
    Total Nepal population: 29,890,686 (July 2012 est.)

    findBIOMETRICS: 10th Anniversary Year in Review

    findBIOMETRICS Year in Review 2012 (findBIOMETRICS)
    This is the largest yearly global snapshot of our industry and over the past 10 years we have seen so many changes. The industry is entering into a serious growth phase right now. So many companies are reporting new markets, new verticals, new and innovative product lines, new partnerships and new deployments…several in the hundreds of millions of enrollees. There is a clear indication that GROWTH is where we are heading over the next 5 years. I can’t wait to see what the Identity and Biometrics world will look like then.

    We received responses from Canada, Spain, Russia, China, Ireland, Brazil, Hong Kong, Sweden, Germany, UK, Israel, France, Korea, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Lithuania, Singapore, Japan, Italy, Malaysia and the USA.

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    The future of online user authentication

    7 Reasons Passwords Are Doomed - Finally (ReadWrite Enterprise)
    Passwords control your life. From accessing work email and stock prices on the go to checking a grocery store shopping list, passwords have become the primary source of identifying who you are. They are arguably more important than your driver’s license.

    But with that ubiquity comes risk – this tiny, yet powerful device contains enough information to expose your financial or health records and other personal details. From an enterprise perspective, the risks are just as great, if not greater.

    Ubiquity also creates confusion. On average, password reset requests make up 10% - 30% of all IT helpdesk calls. It’s a productivity black hole.

    Granted, despite their problems, passwords have shown incredible staying power. But here are seven reasons why they will finally fade away.
    The reasons Toby Rush, EyeVerify CEO, gives for the decline of the password as a human authentication method are good ones.

    Humans, however, aren't the only things that must identify themselves to IT infrastructure. Computers have to do it too. For that reason, it's hard to foresee the extinction of the password but that might not matter much. Long passwords don't bother computers nearly as much as they bother people.

    Court: Students cannot opt out of ID badge policy

    Student Suspended for Refusing to Wear RFID Tracker Loses Lawsuit (Wired)
    Sophomore Andrea Hernandez was notified in November by the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio that she won’t be able to continue attending John Jay High School unless she wears the badge around her neck. The district said the girl, who objects largely on religious grounds, would have to attend another high school that does not employ the RFID tags.

    She sued, a judge tentatively halted the suspension, but changed course Tuesday after concluding that the 15-year-old’s right of religion was not breached. That’s because the district eventually agreed to accommodate the girl and allow her to remove the RFID chip while still demanding that she wear the identification like the other students.

    The Hernandez family claims the badge and its chip signifies Satan, or the “Mark of the Beast” warning in Revelations 13:16-18. The girl refused the district’s offer, sued, and was represented by the Rutherford Institute.
    It is clear that the public hasn't quite come to grips with the use ID technology technology in the administration of (more-or-less compulsory) public services involving children.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

    Face rec philosophy

    Face Recognition in Retail: Profit, Ethics and Privacy (Allevate)
    Having previously written on the subject of the application of face recognition in airports as applied by law enforcement and border control, this article looks at the increasing exploitation of the technology for commercial advantage. As well as contrasting the different use-cases defined by commercial exploitation versus public safety applications, this article also touches upon the very different agendas of those using the technology and the privacy issues that arise.
    Read the whole thing.

    Biometric ID and polygamy in Indonesia

    Rampant polygamy leads to fraudulent e-IDs: Minister (Jakarta Post)
    Their attempts to make more than one e-ID, could have been foiled although some of them tried to trick officials by producing different names, signatures, and birthplaces.

    “Some tried to change their appearance, by donning fake beards for instance,” Gamawan said.

    Some of the applicants, however, simply wanted to test the new system.

    Gamawan said that those people were curious about whether the e-ID system was capable of preventing fraudulent practices.

    “But they were unable to do so because the online e-ID registration system prevented them from using the same fingerprints more than once,” Gamawan said.
    You never know what you'll find when better ID management techniques are applied.

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    Unisys exec. on the biometrics industry in India

    Unisys sees scope in taking biometrics to bottom of pyramid: John Kendall (DNA)
    A low-profile sector so far, biometrics is gaining traction, courtesy several large-scale government projects. The private sector too is catching up with adoption of biometrics, thus making India a key market that cannot be ignored any more, John Kendall, director, national security programme at Unisys, tells KV Ramana.
    46%, 48%? I've seen some huge CAGR forecasts for the Indian biometrics industry lately.

    Thursday on Twitter: Biometric Chat on Biometrics & Privacy

    The transcript of the Biometric Chat on Privacy is here.

    January 10, 2013 11:00 am EST, 8:00 am PST, 16:00 pm BST, 17:00 pm (CEST), 23:00 pm (SGT), 0:00 (JST)

    Where: (or Twitter hashtag #biometricchat)

    Tweet chat on iris biometrics technology with Shaun Dakin (@ShaunDakin, @PrivacyCamp), Data Privacy Advocate and Founder of #privchat

    What technologies have negative impacts on privacy, how the privacy industry works for change, privacy and biometrics, effectiveness of “privacy by design” and “privacy impact assessments,” biometrics as a “privacy protector,” and more.

    More at the M2SYS blog.

    Earlier topics have included privacy, mobile biometrics, workforce management, biometrics in the cloud, law enforcement, and modalities such as iris and voice.

    I always enjoy these and judging by participation at the last one, they're gaining some traction with ID professionals. Many thanks to John at M2SYS for putting these together.

    The past and future of the American passport

    The existence of the book, The Passport in America:The History of a Document (Amazon) somehow escaped my attention.

    Luckily, the Boston Globe ran a short Q&A with the book's author, Craig Robertson, today. Click on over to see his answers to the questions below.

    When were Americans first required to carry passports for foreign travel?

    What was the purpose of passports issued by the State Department before World War I?

    Nineteenth-century passports actually featured written descriptions of their holders, correct?

    So what was the reaction among the American public when photographs were introduced to passports?

    In the days before birth certificates became commonplace, how did the government verify an applicant’s identity?

    What future changes to the passport do you foresee?

    In your research, you probably looked at hundreds of passports. Did you find a single good passport photo?

    Will Swiss to say "cheese" for faster entry to US?

    Swiss visitors may get fast-track entry to US (Swiss Info)
    Swiss travellers to the United States may soon benefit from speedy entry under a new agreement proposed by the US authorities, according to the American ambassador to Bern Donald S. Beyer.

    He told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday that participation in the US Global Entry programme managed by US Customs and Border Protection would put Switzerland on a list of “selected countries” whose citizens could gain fast-track entry. 
    If Switzerland agrees to participate, it would join a handful of countries alongside the Netherlands, Ireland, Mexico and Canada.

    Unisys exec. on biometrics in India

    Unisys sees scope in taking biometrics to bottom of pyramid: John Kendall (DNA India)
    A low-profile sector so far, biometrics is gaining traction, courtesy several large-scale government projects. The private sector too is catching up with adoption of biometrics, thus making India a key market that cannot be ignored any more, John Kendall, director, national security programme at Unisys, tells KV Ramana.

    See also, a recent industry forecast of 46% CAGR for biometrics in India.

    UID in the NYT

    The New York Times takes a look at India's UID program.

    India Aims to Keep Money for Poor Out of Others’ Pockets (New York Times)
    India has more poor people than any nation on earth, but many of its antipoverty programs end up feeding the rich more than the needy. A new program hopes to change that.

    On Jan. 1, India eliminated a raft of bureaucratic middlemen by depositing government pension and scholarship payments directly into the bank accounts of about 245,000 people in 20 of the nation’s hundreds of districts, in a bid to prevent corrupt state and local officials from diverting much of the money to their own pockets. Hundreds of thousands more people will be added to the program in the coming months.
    There's an iris vs. retina faux pas but the article is more about politics and political science than technology.

    UPDATE: Face recognition passport checks available to Norwegians returning via Oslo

    It's on.

    Oslo Airport initiates self-service passport control (Future Travel Experience)
    First, passengers scan their passports at the entrance to the unit. When validated, the system unlocks a turnstile through which a passenger photograph is taken and compared with the photo in the passport. If the photos correspond, a second turnstile will open and the passenger is free to leave the passport control area. A border guard manually monitors the system, which records no personal passenger data.


    MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2012

    Face recognition passport checks available to Norwegians returning via Oslo

    Self-service Passport Control is Introduced The Nordic Page (The Nordic Page) 
    The technology is based on face recognition and has a two-stage operation. After passing the first gate, traveler’s face is scanned to compare with the picture on the passport. After the image match is completed, the next door is opened and the border control finishes. The process takes about 15 seconds.
    This seems like a well-conceived deployment. Using the face photo in the passport document eliminates the need for a huge database of all the passport photos in the world.

    Still, there are a couple of things account for.

    For passports without a chip, it it is possible that clumsier fakes involving switched passport photos would pass an automated screening than would pass a human inspection. For chip-based passports, comparing the picture on the chip with the picture on the document would account for this (or make such a fake a whole lot more difficult).

    There is also the question of passport chip adoption and interoperability. Not every current passport is an ePassport and not every ePassport can be read by every other country. For these reasons, the new service is only available to Norwegians.
    It makes sense to move incrementally on these things and to tackle challenges a few at a time.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    That's some serious CAGR

    Indian biometrics market driven by the need for stricter security protocols (Press Release via Live-PR)
    The Indian biometrics market has been forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46% over the period 2011-2015, with the need for higher security in the country and the need for stricter security protocols among private companies set to drive this industry growth.

    Comprehensive biometric census and ID for Nigeria

    Nigerians to get ID number (Vanguard)
    In a move to curtail insurgency and other criminal challenges confronting the country, the National Population Commission, NPC, has commenced a comprehensive biometric capturing of all Nigerians, with a view to allocating every Nigerian number that would be associated with him or her from birth to death.
    It looks like Nigeria aspires to something akin to the National Population Register that India is working on.

    Ireland busting welfare ghosts with face recognition

    Troubled Facebook software to tackle dole fraud (Irish Examiner)
    In its latest effort to weed out welfare cheats, the Department of Social Protection plan to begin using facial-matching software from the beginning of the new year. The software will use photographic identification supplied with all new claims to automatically detect any other claims made by that person.

    The technology will also have the ability to compare the supplied image with images stored by other Government bodies such as photos taken for driving licences and passports. The department believes this will help to stamp out dole cheats’ ability to use forged or stolen identities to make multiple claims.
    I guess you can tell from the headline that the Examiner doesn't approve. Nevertheless, facial recognition is a pretty good way to catch some welfare cheats.

    If the photos are already available, running them through a facial recognition engine to search for duplicates doesn't require any new, specialized hardware or add any steps for the people that do the one-on-one work with prospective beneficiaries.

    The system Ireland is rolling out is similar ones in use in the United States (i.e. New York) for preventing identity fraud through the issuance of multiple drivers licenses under multiple names to the same person.

    Thursday, January 3, 2013

    Droid Hamsters!

    SecuGen Corporation announces Android compatibility of SecuGen Hamster Fingerprint Readers (Press Release via California News Wire)
    SecuGen's soon-to-be released SDK for Android will allow developers to create mobile applications secured by a user's fingerprint. This SDK for Android will incorporate SecuGen's MINEX certified, FIPS 201/PIV-compliant fingerprint template extraction and matching algorithms. The SDK will also include drivers and APIs for image capture and processing of fingerprints scanned by the Hamster Plus and Hamster IV readers as well as the iD-USB SC and the iD-USB SC/PIV fingerprint and smartcard combination devices. SecuGen's biometric products are widely recognized for being rugged, accurate, and affordable and are sold through reseller partners worldwide.

    India: UID going multi-modal

    Iris scan to add layer to Aadhaar authentication (Business Standard)
    One of the biggest purported flaws of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)'s Aadhaar programme was the risk of deterioration of beneficiaries' fingerprint quality, especially given the country's large farm worker population, among the main target groups.

    But, almost in sync with the government's plan of rolling out the ambitious direct benefits transfer (DBT) scheme nationwide, starting with 20 districts from January 1, the UIDAI is finishing work on introducing iris-based authentication in the first quarter of 2013, said a senior UIDAI official.

    New China travel policy includes collecting biometrics of foreign travelers

    China Exit-Entry law up (Tempo - Philippines)
    Key provisions of the law include requiring residence permits for foreigners residing in China, issuing a “catalog” for foreign workers, putting a cap on the extension of visas, creation of national database for exit and entry information, collection of biometric data of foreigners, and the introduction of “Green Cards.”

    India: We have a lift off

    After initial hiccups, the government’s ambitious direct benefits transfer programme through a unique identification number kicked off smoothly today, though the number of transactions carried out by the banks on the first day remained low. About 2,000 beneficiaries were transferred an amount of Rs 35 lakh on the Aadhaar platform, but the figure is expected to go up tomorrow. The programme is aimed at covering two lakh beneficiaries.

    Photo of UID taking off. Source: NASA
    After several years of preparation and on-the-ground effort, the National Payments Corporation of India disbursed the first government payments directly to individuals using the UID (Aadhaar) platform. This is a big deal.

    We've repeatedly used the "moon shot" metaphor here to describe the ID management projects India has been working on for the last several years.

    The audio and video of UID won't be as dramatic. The narrative won't be as clear-cut. There won't be a cathartic moment where a "one giant step" speech is appropriate. So, in this sense, UID falls short of the metaphor. [The audio of the Apollo 11 launch that inspired this post's title is here (; 1 min.)]

    But if the UID project succeeds it will have overcome daunting technical, logistical and managerial challenges to have a tangible effect on the material well being of hundreds of millions of people, awakening the rest of the developing world to new possibilities to simultaneously help the most vulnerable and reduce the corruption that keeps much of the world poor. Few government initiatives could boast of as much.

    UID also reminds me of the great global efforts to eradicate small pox and polio in that they had to, quite literally, touch everyone.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2013

    New Year, New Tech, New Policies

    The new year often brings new technologies, systems and policies. Here are a few examples:

    India: Biometric registration for census begins in Uttar Pradesh (New Kerala)

    India launches new system for handling welfare (Seattle Times)

    UK visa application changes come into force (Expat Forum)

    New passports began to operate in Ukraine (UNN)