The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (“S&T”) has announced plans for a series of “technology challenges” over the course of the next year, dubbed “Remote Identity Validation Technology Demonstration” (RIVTD). And it could prove to be a highly influential evaluation program in the burgeoning areas of selfie onboarding and mobile ID.
Organized in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Homeland Security Investigations Forensic Laboratory, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (DHS), the RIVTD challenges will ask participants to deliver secure and accurate solutions for remote identity verification. With respect to application areas for these solutions, the DHS’s announcement specifically pointed to use cases in which end users would be applying for government services, opening bank accounts, or verifying social media accounts.
The challenges will focus on the authentication of official identity documents, the evaluation of images uploaded using smartphones and other consumer devices, and liveness detection. In other words, selfie onboarding appears to be the central focus of the RIVTD program.
“The goal is to enable industry to develop more secure, accurate, and easy to use technologies; objectively measure performance against realistic and sophisticated attacks; answer questions about the overall performance, risks, and fairness of these technologies for use in commercial or government applications; and inform efforts to standardize and certify technologies that are effective against sophisticated and rapidly evolving attacks,” organizers explained in a statement.
The DHS appears to be modelling RIVTD on its annual Biometric Rally program, which invites biometrics vendors to participate in S&T-led testing that can simulate real-world environments. First launched in 2018, the DHS S&T’s Biometric Technology Rally has since emerged as a premier venue for vendors to distinguish themselves by the quality of their biometric offerings, complementing the renowned testing programs of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
For its part, RIVTD appears to be a more or less direct response to the astonishing ascent of remote identity verification technologies, particularly those based on applying facial recognition to selfie images. The trend toward this approach to remote onboarding was already well underway prior to 2020, and was accelerated by the pandemic and its attendant lockdowns and stay-at-home advisories.
“In the past year, we’ve seen tremendous innovation from the identity and biometrics industry to adapt to new government and private sector identity needs,” explained Arun Vemury, the Lead of S&T’s Biometric and Identity Technology Center. “While we understand performance will vary among different technology providers, we need to develop measures to evaluate the performance and new risks associated with these capabilities.”
The RIVTD program may also have important implications for the emergence of mobile-based digital ID solutions, especially in light of the Transportation Security Administration’s participation. The TSA has been a key ally of Apple in the latter’s push to establish itself as a private sector pioneer of mobile ID and mobile driver’s license technology, enabling Apple’s solution to be used as official proof of identity at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona earlier this year and, more recently, at the Denver International Airport in Colorado.
Its recent deployments of CAT-2 terminals for traveler verification point to the TSA’s anticipation of more widespread use of mobile ID solutions, given the terminals’ support for contactless mobile ID reading.
“TSA is very happy to be expanding our partnership with DHS S&T into remote identity validation,” commented TSA Identity Capability Manager Jason Lim. “The results of this demonstration will inform our understanding of the trust, security, privacy, and equity in the emerging digital identity space, including mobile driver’s license, where TSA has been a leading player working directly with key industry vendors and issuing authorities.”
DHS S&T says that it expects to open up RIVTD applications in January, and encourages developers and vendors involved in the space to participate.
December 9, 2022 – by Alex Perala