Singapore intends to be the first country to use facial authentication technology, as part of its national digital identity system project.
Biometric screening will provide Singaporeans with safe access to services in the private and public sectors. The government in Singapore says this system will be the basis for the country’s digital economy. It was tested in a bank and is now being circulated across the country.
And it is not just a matter of knowing the identity of people, but also of confirming their actual presence. Singapore is supplied with this technology by the British company iProf, which was founded and headed by Andrew Bud, who says: “You must be confident that the person is actually present, and that you are not looking at a photograph, or recorded video, or a fake clip.”
The technology will be activated in Singapore’s national digital identity system, known as “Sing Pass”. Technology will create access to government services.
“This is the first time that a cloud-based facial authentication technique is used to secure people’s identity under the national digital identity system,” says Andrew.
Verify or identify?
Face recognition and face verification rely on scanning a person’s face and comparing it to an image in a database to verify his identity.
The main difference is that verification requires the express consent of the user, who in turn gets something in return, such as accessing his phone or the smartphone banking application.
As for face recognition technology, it can be used, for example, to monitor the faces of everyone on the train platform, and alert the authorities if there is a wanted criminal who has been detected among the crowd.
“The facial recognition technology has all kinds of social implications,” says Andrew. “The facial recognition technology is extremely commendable.”
Privacy advocates say people agreeing to undergo verification technology is only a low threshold when it comes to sensitive biometric data.
“Consent does not work in the absence of a balance of power between officials and the persons whose data is recorded,” said Ioannis Kovakas, legal affairs officer at Privacy International in London.
Companies or governments?
In both the United States and China, tech companies have jumped the field of facial authentication.
For example, a series of smart phone banking applications that support the face recognition system designed by Apple, and also Google, as well as the Chinese company Alibaba, in order to verify the identity.
While many governments use facial verification technology, few governments have considered linking this technology to the national identity card. In some cases, this is due to the lack of a national identity card at all, and in the United States, for example, most people use a driver’s license to identify themselves.
China, for its part, did not try to link identity verification via the fingerprint and the national identity card, but last year it enacted laws requiring faces scanning for those coming to buy new mobile phones, so that they can be referred to for identity verification.
However, the technique of verifying the identity via the face print is commonly used in airports, and it is also used by many government departments, such as the Ministry of the Interior, the National Health Service in Britain, as well as the US Department of Homeland Security.
How it will be used This technique؟
In Singapore, facial authentication is already being used at kiosks at IRS branches, and in one of the country’s major banks where customers are allowed to use the technology to open online bank accounts.
It is expected that this technology will be used to secure areas such as ports, and to verify the identity of students in the exams.
The technology will also be available to any business wishing to acquire it, provided it meets government standards.