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National biometric database could be on the way (and in private hands)

Published: November 11, 2018
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Source: ZDnet

When a national fingerprinting company joins forces with a startup that authenticates identity using AI-based facial recognition and behavioral prediction in natural settings, the future of human identification tech starts to look an awful lot like sci fi. That's the the new reality as SureID, a biometrics and fingerprinting firm, partners with Robbie.AI, a Boston-based startup, on R&D that could result in the United States' first nationwide biometrics gathering system.

SureID is commonly used by employers authenticating employee identity via its nationwide network of fingerprint enrollment kiosks. Adding facial recognition from Robbie.AI gives the two firms the building blocks of a nationwide biometric database that could be used in a number of settings, from retail authentication and employment verification to more speculative applications like driver-identification for keyless self-driving cars or even user recognition in future robotic platforms.

The notion worries some privacy advocates, who see video-based biometrics, which can accurately scan crowds and identify individuals, as anathema to presumed rights of privacy. Even if the intentions are sincere, the very existence of a biometric database presents security concerns. Earlier this year, an Indian journalist demonstrated that he could buy administrative access to India's biometric database for the equivalent of about $8 USD.

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