connect:ID 2017 explores identity tech as a force for good
02 May 2017 16:05 GMT

The first day at connect:ID 2017 saw industry experts and senior US government officials outline how, if applied correctly, identity technology such as biometrics can enable secure travel, foster financial inclusion and help create safer, fairer societies.

In his opening remarks, conference chair Mark Lockie noted how the identity industry will likely look back at this point in identity as an “era of growth in identity that is the most influential in its history”.

But this great potential for power is also matched by the challenges that are faced in creating secure and fair identity systems that will be accepted by the public and satisfy privacy demands.

In her presentation, Laura Hart, Vice President Business Operations, Qualcomm Cyber Security Solutions (QCSS), noted that as identity transitions from the physical to digital world, that many organisations are only focused on their own solutions.

“This fragmentation allows bad actors to attack, because our ability to stay ahead is only good as the weakest link,” said Hart.

IOT is a prime example of technology outpacing security, said Hart, with the volumes of new data being created a potential “treasure trove for hackers”.

Outlining instead a case for a "intelligent identity", she envisioned a different future, however, where each touch point with technology authenticated us rather than creating data leaks.  But to achieve this, the industry must “work together to innovate and defragment our processes”.

Produced by The International Biometrics + Identity Association and Science Media Partners (SMP), connect:ID 2017 is the preeminent conference and expo for industry, government, and consumers to both see the latest innovations and to discuss the policy and technology issues that shape the concepts of identity.

It is being held from 1-3 May in the  Walter E Washington Convention Center.

In his keynote speech, Kevin McAleenan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), also outlined how biometric tech is playing an essential role in improving lives – this time in terms of US border security.

McAleenan said that the CBP is completed committed to leveraging the latest tech to secure borders from threats, adding that “biometrics are an essential part of what we do”.

“Biometrics have two advantages – first they are accurate and largely immutable, they promote data accuracy and reduce fraud. Secondly, they are becoming increasingly user friendly”.

The senior US official revealed that this was “a defining moment in the biometric exit strategy”, saying he was confident that innovative partnerships would enable a full roll out technical implenetations towards biometric exit.

From 1 June, the CBP will begin biometric exit pilots across the country, with a new airport coming online every two weeks and systems accessing a real-time response from the cloud.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on the achievements of the industry”.

In a later session on disruptive global trends and the role of effective identity technology, Florian Forster, Head, Immigration and Border Management (IBM), Department of Migration Management (DMM), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Switzerland, explained how the technology is having a vital impact on the lives of vulnerable people such as migrants.

“We have embraced identity management – it is core to us – we see as a security feature but also as an empowerment and protection feature [for refugees and asylum seekers].”

 Meanwhile, Seth Stodder, Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, stressed that identity systems need to find a happy medium that benefits the 99% of travellers who are law-abiding citizens, and beyond “finding the needle in the haystack”.

“The revolution over the past 15 years is in the risk aseessment that can be achieved in all flows of funds, people and data,” said Stodder.

The sessions continue on Tuesday, with exceptional speakers due to address critical issues such as mobile identity and credentials, border and vetting security, and much more.