Biometrics emerging as key issue for Trump administration
20 January 2017 15:52 GMT

US President Donald Trump’s expected stance on immigration, national security and crime are leading to speculation that the biometrics industry could experience a fillip during his administration.

As Trump is inaugurated, US media has been highlighting how this increased focus on biometrics will play out, with some expecting an increase in surveillance at borders and internally, for example in law enforcement.

Investagative newspaper The Intercept has surmised that based on Trump’s DHS picks and his campaign rhetoric, it’s likely his administration will rely on surveillance technologies such as “threat detection algorithms, facial recognition technology, and an expansion of ‘verifiable’ identity solutions both in real life and online.”

Such projections gel with Trump’s electoral rheotoric, which included pledges, for example, to complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.

Last December, The NIST-backed Commission On Enhancing National Cybersecurity stated in a report that stronger authentication was necessary.

“The next Administration should launch a national public–private initiative to achieve major security and privacy improvements by increasing the use of strong authentication to improve identity management”, reads the report. “An effective identity management system is foundational to managing privacy interests and relates directly to security”. The 12-person commission includes a former IBM CEO, the current CEO of MasterCard, the vice-president of Microsoft Research, the chief security officer of Uber and other security experts.

Meanwhile, biometrics is being linked to the inauguration for different reasons today, with privacy advocates claiming that protestors who post selfies will be subject to face recognitnon vetting.

Liberal magazine Quartz cited the fact that law enforcement agencies around the US have spent a collective $4.75 million on tools that track and organize massive amounts of data culled from social media posts, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

It added that during protests in Baltimore following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, police ran photos posted on social media through face-recognition software to identify people with outstanding warrants and arrest them on the spot.

“The kind of monitoring they can do and the kind of analysis that they can do is so far beyond just me following a person on Twitter, or searching a hashtag,” Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior counsel in the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told the magazine. “It’s so much more powerful and has more implications in terms of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and especially freedom to protest and demonstrate.”

Industry Events