Welcome to FindBiometrics’ digest of identity industry news. Here’s what you need to know about the world of digital identity and biometrics today:
Ruling Opens Door to Huge BIPA Class Action Over Amazon’s Alexa
A judge for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division has determined that a class action lawsuit filed against Amazon under the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) can proceed, and that anyone who has ever spoken to an Amazon Alexa voice assistant in the state can register as a claimant. The lawsuit concerns Alexa’s use of voice recognition technology to discern between different speakers, even those who have not signed up as users. One of the plaintiffs is just such a person, arguing that the system collected his voice data even though he never gave his consent. Amazon had sought to get the suit dismissed, arguing that any reasonable consumer would have understood in using an Alexa device that their voice data was being collected. Judge Franklin Valderrama ruled that this wasn’t relevant, because Amazon still failed to collect explicit consent as required by BIPA.
Met Police Use Facial Recognition to Track Down Protestor
The United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police used facial recognition to arrest an individual for allegedly making anti-semitic comments at a rally led by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in London. The suspect was recorded on camera, and the Met later used Retrospective Facial Recognition to match him to a social media profile, ultimately leading to his arrest. The United Kingdom has more restrictive laws concerning freedom of speech than the United States, with bills such as the Public Order Act outlawing speech deemed to stir racial hatred. The country’s Policing Minister, Chris Philp, has been vocal in advocating for the use of technologies like facial recognition to investigate crime in recent months.
Proposed Bill ‘Holds CBP Accountable’ Over Biometric Border Mandate
US Representative Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) has introduced legislation the he says is designed to “hold the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accountable for failing to fulfill its statutory directive to establish a comprehensive biometric entry/exit system.” The mandate to establish a biometric entry/exit system goes back stretches back decades, to the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996; and the CBP has in fact implemented extensive measures to collect the biometric data of non-US citizens at border crossings. Rep. Donalds’ bill, H.R. 6138, is co-sponsored by Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Troy Nehls (R-Texas), and Randy Weber (R-Texas), and has been sent to the House Judiciary and the Homeland Security Committees.
Simplified Arrival Comes to SoCal
Simplified Arrival has arrived at Southern California’s Ontario International Airport. US Customs and Border Protection’s traveler processing system uses facial recognition to match international travelers to their travel documents. The rollout is part of the CBP’s efforts to fulfill its mandate to establish a biometric entry/exit program. Atif Elkadi, the CEO of the Ontario International Airport Authority, said Simplified Arrival offers international travelers “a more convenient travel experience while also enhancing the safety and security of the inspection process.”
SITA Extends Smart Path in Galápagos
Meanwhile, on the island of Baltra in Ecuador, SITA is rolling out more of its Smart Path biometric passenger screening kiosks at the Seymour Galápagos Ecological Airport (GPS), in collaboration with the latter’s operator, Corporación América Airports S. A. (CASA). The face-scanning kiosks are being deployed alongside the SITA FlexBox, which SITA describes as “a compact device that empowers travelers disembarking cruises to swiftly check themselves in for their flights from the cruise terminal before transferring to the airport.”
BigBear.ai to Acquire Pangiam
BigBear.ai will acquire Pangiam in an all-stock transaction valued at about $70 million. In announcing the deal, the companies asserted that their merger “will create one of the industry’s most comprehensive Vision AI portfolios” by combining Pangiam’s facial recognition and biometric technology with BigBear.ai’s computer vision tech. Pangiam itself has grown to prominence in part through acquisitions, including its purchase of veriScan, a biometric passenger processing system developed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and its acquisition of the facial recognition firm Trueface. The deal that will see it subsumed into BigBear.ai is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.
Precise Biometrics Names New CCO
Precise Biometrics has named Sarandis Kalogeropoulos as its new Chief Commercial Officer. Kalogeropoulos started his professional career as a battery engineer for Ericsson, and went on to spend 14 years at Sony Mobile Communications. Among other roles, he has spent the last few years working as a consultant for Precise Biometrics. Effective November 20, he will become part of its management team, serving as the head of Precise’s Digital Identity business area.
FPC Teams With IN Groupe’s SPS
Fingerprint Cards (FPC) has established a biometric cards-focused partnership with IN Groupe’s Smart Packaging Solutions (SPS) business division. The collaboration will see the production of cards featuring FPC’s fingerprint sensors and software. In announcing the partnership, Fingerprints noted that IN Groupe “holds 25 percent of the dual interface market worldwide outside China with its SPS solutions.” The companies will jointly exhibit their card solution at the upcoming Trustech event in Paris, which is slated to run from November 28 to 30.
BIO-key Gets $800k Order From Defense Ministry
One of BIO-key’s most important clients has placed a new, $800,000 order as part of a previously announced, three-year purchasing agreement. The client, which BIO-key describes as “one of the world’s most respected government defense ministries”, had previously sent a $340,000 purchase order in August, and in total has delivered roughly $1.7 million in revenues for BIO-key since 2018. The client has been integrating BIO-key’s biometric authentication technology into its virtual desktop infrastructure, which is used by tens of thousands of employees. BIO-key says the latest order is expected to be recognized in its Q4 2023 reporting period.
November 6, 2023 – by Alex Perala