Homeland Security Takes Back Its Plans of Facial Recognition for US Citizens

Homeland Security Takes Back Its Plans of Facial Recognition for US Citizens

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking back its decision to implement a policy that would require all US citizens to undergo facial recognition scans while entering or leaving the US. The policy was introduced last week and required US citizens to have their faces scanned and added to a biometric database. 

Now, the US citizens will not be required to participate in facial recognition scans at airports with DHS retracting the policy. Customers and Border Protection (CBP) said on Wednesday that the reversal in policy was the result of conversations with ‘privacy experts’, lawmakers and travel-industry stakeholders. 

John Wagner, a Border Patrol said in a statement, “CBP is committed to keeping the public informed about our use of facial comparison technology. We are implementing a biometric entry-exit system that protects the privacy of all travelers while making travel more secure and convenient.”

Non-US citizens are already required to undergo facial recognition scans when entering the United States. When it was announced last week that CBP would require US citizens to go through facial recognition scans as well, the proposed rule was met with backlash from privacy and human rights advocates. 

American Civil Liberties Union analyst, Jay Stanley, said in a statement, 

“This proposal never should have been issued, and it is positive that the government is withdrawing it after growing opposition from the public and lawmakers.” 

The full statement regarding the rule reversal can be read here. 

EU to Investigate Google and Facebook’s Data Collection Practices

EU to Investigate Google and Facebook’s Data Collection Practices

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The European Union has begun preliminary investigations into the data collection practices of Google and Facebook. The investigations are done to evaluate whether the two US tech firms are complying with the EU rules in the region.  

A spokesperson for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, told CNBC via email on Monday that ‘The Commission has sent out questionnaires as part of a preliminary investigation into Google’s and Facebook’s data practices. These investigations concern the way data is gathered, processed, used and monetized, including for advertising purposes.’

According to the spokesperson, the preliminary investigations are on-going. EU has previously investigated Google which has resulted in more than €8bn (£6.8bn) of fines. Google Shopping was investigated in 2017 which resulted in a fine of €2.4bn. In 2018, Google’s Android smartphone operating system involved anticompetitive practices and it resulted in a fine of €4.3bn. In 2019, due to advertising violations, Google was charged with a €1.5bn fine. These new investigations show that the EU isn’t done probing into Google. 

A spokesperson for Google told CNBC, “We use data to make our services more useful and to show relevant advertising, and we give people controls to manage, delete or transfer their data. We will continue to engage with the Commission and others on this important discussion for our industry.”

A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC via email on Tuesday, “Data helps us tailor our apps and services so each person’s experience is unique and personalized.” The spokesperson also added that Facebook is fully cooperating with the EU and are happy to answer any questions they might have.  

EU has previously investigated Amazon to figure out whether the e-retailer was complying with European rules on handling data from independent retailers. 

Margrethe Vestager, who is the EU’s competition chief, has led a wider crackdown on how tech giants operate across the 28 EU member states. She has urged Ireland to collect 13 billion euros ($14.34 billion) in unpaid taxes from Apple, fined Google in a number of cases and accused Facebook of misleading EU regulators over its takeover of WhatsApp. 

How Biometric Technology is Shaping Up for 2020

How Biometric Technology is Shaping Up for 2020

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The verification of individuals for security measures has become remarkably important for organizations across all sectors. It’s not only imperative for financial institutions, banks, and law enforcement agencies to employ robust authentication systems but also for educational institutes, small businesses, and online retailers. The heightened threats of identity thefts, frauds, and online scams make greater security measures a necessity. 

One of the most appealing features of biometrics technology as a security measure is its simplicity. Biometrics employs the use of individual biometric traits. The most commonly used biometric authentication tool is fingerprint followed by facial recognition. Other forms of biometric modalities include facial verification, retina scans, voice recognition, finger vein IDs, etc.  

Biometrics has advanced to much prominence, especially in the last few years. In a 2015 report by Juniper Research, more than 770 million biometric authentication applications will be downloaded each year by 2019. In 2018, the global biometrics market accounted for $14.6 billion. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 16.2% over the years of 2019-2027. 

The concept of biometrics can be traced as far back as 31,000 years ago when men were leaving handprints as signatures next to their cave painting. This system went through a number of changes and by 1903, New York prisons were utilizing fingerprints of inmates to keep track of offenders. But it’s only been in the recent past that biometric technology has gone under striking evolution to become what we see today. The integration of biometrics in smartphones expanded rapidly in 2013 when Apple introduced the fingerprint sensor on its iPhone X’s home button. 

A number of businesses these days employ the use of biometrics. Healthcare, banking, financial services, digital currency, telecom, aviation are some of the businesses that have to incorporate customer identification. These businesses have exercised biometrics to protect their processes and remarkably increase their efficiency. The average identification time using a biometric system typically varies between 3 to 5 seconds. 

What Will Biometrics Look Like in 2020? 


According to a poll by Spiceworks, 90% of businesses will be using biometrics by 2020. The biometrics market is expected to reach a value of $24.44 billion by 2020, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. This significant rise in biometrics begs the question of the future of biometrics. 

Let’s take an in-depth look at how biometrics will be all the rage in 2020. 

  • Majority Banks Will Employ Biometrics For Identity Verification 

Financial institutions and banks fall under immense constraints to verify the identity of their clients and have robust identification systems. Being the guardians of some of the most sensitive data, banks have to be at the forefront of biometric authentication

According to a report by ResearchandMarkets, 1.9 billion bank customers will be employing biometrics. Bank customers will be using biometrics to

  • Withdraw cash from ATM
  • Prove identity during customer onboarding
  • Initiate the process of online money transfer 
  • Access the mobile bank app 

According to a Goode Intelligence report, biometrics will be the primary means of identity authentication utilized by banks and financial institutions. 

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How Biometric Technology is Shaping Up for 2020

  • Multimodal Biometric Systems expected to grow the most

Due to a growing need for security and protection, biometric technology is constantly evolving. The growth of multi-modal biometric systems can be attributed to the need for mitigation of frauds, scams and hacks. Multimodal biometrics employ at least two or more biometrics to verify the identity of the clients. There are a number of advantages of multimodal biometric systems over the unimodal systems: 

  • Through the combination of multiple identifiers, an additional level of security is added. 
  • Multimodal biometric systems are more effective, accurate and dependable. 
  • Another supplementary advantage of using a multimodal biometric system is the reduction in the Failure to Enroll (FTE) and Failure to Capture (FTC) rates. 
  • It provides a greater recognition efficiency compared to a unimodal system.
  • The intruder would have to break into more than one biometric system to break into the biometric multimodal system. 
  • Due to the availability of a number of features, a multimodal biometric system is more reliable.
  • If any of the modalities in a multimodal system is eliminated, the system can still effectively ensure security

Multimodal biometric systems will continue to gain more traction in 2020 with the increased development in the biometric sector. 

  • New Means of Identity Screening Will Be Explored

When it comes to biometrics and their application, most people limit it to fingerprint scans or facial recognition. Fingerprint modality is a huge market and is one of the most used biometrics. Biometrics is a vast field and through every passing day, its needs are escalating. In a 2017 report, it was noted that fingerprint modality will grow to an exceptional $11 billion in Banking and Financial Services by 2020 securing about $5.6 trillion payments. It becomes imperative to include newer means of biometrics for identity screening. 

The year 2020 will see other means of biometrics-based security systems. According to FCW, other biometrics methods will be joined alongside fingerprint and facial recognition. These different methods include measuring respiration and pulse or identifying veins in a finger. Cognitive vetting is also being explored like evaluating reactions to certain stimuli. These methods may very well prove to be more secure and reliable as compared to the present ones. But it is crucial to note that with more developments in the biometric industry, privacy questions will be raised as well.  

  • Biometrics Will Become Mainstream in Smartphones

It was not that long ago when digital biometrics was only a myth seen in sci-fi movies. In the last few years, biometrics has become remarkably mainstream, especially in smartphones. In 2016, 750 million smartphones which employed biometrics were in use, representing 30% of the global smartphone installed base. According to a report, by 2020, 100% of the smartphones in use will incorporate biometrics. 

Supplementary to that, more than 800 million smartphone transactions employing biometrics will be completed by 2020, generating close of $7 billion in annual biometric authentication revenue. Facial recognition for smartphones is going to gain a lot of traction as well. In 2020, 64% of smartphones shipped worldwide will have facial recognition technology. This percentage is up from just 23% last year, according to a report from Counterpoint Technology Market Research. 

Biometrics is a growing industry and when used correctly, it has provided an accurate set of data. Through the use of biometrics technology, users don’t have to go through the mundane processes of building complex passwords and remembering them. Biometrics provides a transparent way of identity verification and user accountability. 

Despite being secure, there are some privacy concerns attached to biometrics technology. There are issues that revolve around the safety of data collected and stored by retailers as well. Due to these privacy concerns, regulations regarding the use and collection of data are also being considered. In spite of this, the year 2020 will bring remarkable advancements in the biometrics industry.