Welcome to FindBiometrics’ digest of identity industry news. Here’s what you need to know about the world of digital identity and biometrics today:
Armed With AI, Feds Reopen Child Abuse Cold Cases
Federal law enforcement investigators have reportedly been using facial recognition in a new effort to find victims of child sexual exploitation. ‘Operation Renewed Hope’ launched on July 17, with part of its mission being to re-investigate year-old cases that had gone cold using sophisticated AI technologies. Forbes reports that the effort involves the use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition platform. Department of Homeland Security authorities haven’t named the specific tools being used, but say the operation has so far led to the identification of more than 300 apparent victims, as well as several rescues.
Report Details SenseTime-MIT Ties Before Blacklisting
An investigation by the Washington Free Beacon details how China-based SenseTime funded AI research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before being blacklisted by the US government over its alleged involvement in human rights abuses. SenseTime donated an undisclosed amount to MIT in 2018 that led to 22 research papers involving neural networks, 14 of which focused on image data or image recognition algorithms. One of the papers was co-authored by researchers employed by the Chinese military. SenseTime was blacklisted the following year, along with Megvii, another facial recognition specialist.
Arlington County to Test Biometric Inmate Monitoring
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Department in Virginia is about to embark on a one-year pilot that will test the use of biometric wearables to monitor inmate health. The ‘Custody Project’ trial will involve inmates of the county prison’s medical unit, who will wear rugged electronic wristbands that monitor heart rate, pulse, and oxygen levels, as well as movement. Color-coded alerts will automatically be triggered when inmates need attention, appearing on administrators’ tablet devices. Sheriff Jose Quiroz told The Connection, a local news outlet, that some inmates have chronic illnesses, and some may be going through withdrawals, explaining that “emergencies aren’t planned and we don’t want to be caught off guard.”
WhatsApp to Launch Passkey Support
It looks like WhatsApp is about to enable passkey support. A new beta version of an update to the messaging platform has been released, and features a page dedicated to toggling passkeys on or off. Framing passkeys as a “simple way to sign in safely”, the page explains that interested users can opt to log in with a fingerprint or face scan, or with their device PIN, and that their cryptographic key will be stored in Google Password Manager. Passkey support recently came to the 1Password platform, as well.
LastPass Embraces FIDO2
Speaking of password managers, LastPass has announced its support for the use of FIDO2 authenticators. Normally, a LastPass user needs to enter their master password to gain access to their password vault. But the platform’s newly added support for authentication solutions compliant with the FIDO Alliance standard means that users can instead access their vault with a face or fingerprint scan on their device, or with a security key. “The imperative to reduce reliance on passwords has become abundantly clear to everyone and is a core tenet of the FIDO Alliance’s mission, which LastPass has actively supported as a long-standing participant on our Board of Directors,” said FIDO Alliance Executive Director Andrew Shikiar.
Nigeria Launches Biometric Pensioner Authentication System
Nigeria’s Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has launched a new biometric proof-of-life system for the country’s pensioners. Through an online portal, pensioners now have the option of submitting face or fingerprint biometrics to verify their eligibility for pension payments. PTAD Executive Secretary Chioma Ejikeme explained that her organization “aims to reduce the burden on pensioners and eliminate the need for physical visits, particularly for those who face mobility challenges or reside in remote areas.”
… and Its Space Agency Pursues Digital ID
Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), meanwhile, appears to be working on a digital ID effort, announcing a new MoU with e-Gate Technology. It is a strange arrangement: NASRDA is, as its name suggests, the country’s space agency, while e-Gate is an ICT firm specializing in network solutions; yet their partnership entails AI technologies and the development of a biometric digital identity system that will operate through payment cards. What’s more, the organizations say their project will primarily impact the agriculture and healthcare sectors, with NASRDA Director General Halilu Ahmad framing it as a “digital transformation” effort.
August 9, 2023 – by Alex Perala