Canada announces biometric requirement for visa holders

Biometric data collection evolves and expands in Canada (CBC)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada told CBC News that digital photos and fingerprints are “the only biometrics data applicants will have to provide” under the government’s plan for expanded collection of data. Visitors will have to pay $85 to cover the cost of data collection.

Travelers who don’t need a visa to travel to Canada are, apparently, unaffected.

Then again, probably not

Brain’s reaction to certain words could replace passwords (Binghampton University)

According to Sarah Laszlo, assistant professor of psychology and linguistics at Binghamton University and co-author of “Brainprint,” brain biometrics are appealing because they are cancellable and cannot be stolen by malicious means the way a finger or retina can.

“Just 12 more globs and some wiring and you can check
your email!”

Image source:

When the alternative is the terrifying prospect of a stolen retina*, I guess you can’t be too careful.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Though there is little doubt that if any behavioral biometric can be used as a reliable identifier, evidence for that uniqueness could probably be found in the brain, measured, and used for ID purposes. Even so, brain prints as ubiquitous biometrics face every obstacle we discussed in our post, The challenges confronting any new biometric modality, and then some.

The linked article doesn’t make any mention of the sensor to be used to collect brain prints, much less offer a vision for how a future identification scenario might work.

This is one of those subjects that is intensely interesting from a Ph.D. candidate’s point of view (invention) but not so much from an engineering or business perspective (innovation). Brain prints as a biometric will face significant — I dare say insurmountable — challenges in finding their way into wide use as a commercial ID management application any time soon.

The 94% accuracy is an issue, too.

*See also:

Iris ≠ Retina

Iris (left); Retina (right)

In fairness, the penultimate paragraph in the article quotes Zhanpeng Jin, who brings a more moderate perspective to the piece.

The automation revolution will be biometric

Robot check-in: The hotel concierge goes hi-tech (BBC)

It will be staffed by 10 life-like robots, with only two flesh-and-blood staff members on the premises.

The robots will greet guests, carry bags, and even clean rooms once a guest leaves. Complete with an eerily realistic female face, they are designed to speak several languages and respond to guest enquiries in the 72-room hotel.

The aim is to create an all-round hi-tech experience, including facial recognition software to open doors.

The automation revolution will be biometric (cont’d)

Self-Service Technology Market is Expected to Reach $31.75 Billion, Globally by 2020 (Press Release via

The technological advancements such as wireless communication and remote management would also facilitate the overall market growth. In addition, the integration of biometric security services such as fingerprint recognition, which ensure secured financial transactions, would boost the market growth.

Ubiquitous banking biometrics by 2020

Biometrics to become the predominant method to identify bank customers by 2020 (Goode Intelligence)

Growth in the banking industry will be accelerated by a number of factors including the arrival of electronic devices with built-in biometric support (notably smart mobile devices), the adoption of biometric-friendly authentication standards such as FIDO, the pressing need to combat rising banking fraud and identity theft, the growth of mobile banking and the emergence of wearable banking.

US: IBIA wants NIST to do more for biometrics

NIST Urged to Expanded Role of Biometric Authentication (Find Biometrics)

…IBIA Vice Chairman Walter Hamilton pointed to recent years’ “surge in the use of biometric technologies for mobile banking and other e-authentication applications,” adding that “NIST should support this trend by providing guidance on how to ensure the effective implementation of biometrics as an authentication token rather than narrowly limiting its use.”

Biometrics for library convenience

Enabling patrons to log in and check out with a swipe of the finger (American Library Association)

Paul Sawyier Public Library implemented a biometric identification system in October 2008. Since then, patrons who sign up for a library card have the option to enroll in the finger identification system, which is required only when using the public computers and the media box located in the lobby. To check out materials or log on to computers using the system, a patron simply places his or her finger on the biometric scanner located at each station. Patrons checking out other materials can use their library cards as they always have.

Asia-Pacific region lagging in counter-terror biometrics

Interpol pushes for more use of biometrics to ID terrorists (Computerworld)

Interpol is calling for Asia Pacific authorities to make better usage of biometrics to identify members of terrorist groups such as ISIS.

“Europe provides 26 more times fingerprint data than the APAC region and 623 times more DNA data. Yet, we know the [APAC] region has the technology and does make use of it at national levels.”

The Europe-Asia comparison is even more dramatic considering the size of their respective populations.

India: Income tax department sees value in UID

I-T department exploring ways to seed PAN with Aadhaar (Live Mint)

The income tax department is exploring ways to hasten the pace of seeding permanent account number, or PAN, with the unique identity number Aadhaar, a move that will weed out duplicate PANs and help the government’s drive against tax evaders.

This would allow the Income Tax Department to maintain its own ID numbering system for its own purposes — they may tax entities such as corporations that don’t have biometrics, after all — while harnessing Aadhaar for detecting tax fraud among individuals.

China: Regulators reluctant to allow online bank account creation

Chinese Regulators Put Brakes on Facial-Recognition for Payment (

Currently, in China, a customer must physically appear at a bank to have his or her identity verified by an employee before he or she can open an account. There is a push in the industry, the report points out, for facial-recognition software to replace the need for a customer’s physical presence to conduct banking business.

China seems to be drawing a regulatory distinction between what ID requirements should be in place in order to open a bank account versus what ID requirements banks can use for authenticating transactions.

IBIA objects to TSA’s planned identity management protocols for PreCheck

IBIA questions TSA plan on PreCheck expansion (Planet Biometrics)

The International Biometrics and Identification Association (IBIA) has objected to plans by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to exclusively use just biographic data solutions in an expansion of the PreCheck travel screening program.

There’s an interesting quote in the piece that compares what the TSA is proposing to the fraud prevention techniques commonly used by credit card companies.

That alone should give pause. For credit card companies, fraud is an actuarial problem. Credit card companies earn 3-4% on every transaction plus interest fees for carried balances. There’s plenty of room for both fraud and profit in that model.

The TSA’s job is different, and perhaps their fraud prevention techniques should be, too.

Massachusetts contemplating biometrics to curb welfare fraud

Bill proposes Mass. study implementation of fingerprinting, biometrics to reduce welfare fraud (MassLive)

Under the provision, the Department of Transitional Assistance and the Office of Health and Human Services would be required to study the feasibility of using biometrics – which includes fingerprints – to reduce fraud in public benefit programs.

The language, part of a $15.4 million amendment assembled by the House Committee on Ways and Means, cleared the House on a 158-0 vote Tuesday afternoon.

New York City actually implemented a system like this a few years back. It worked, too. Mayor Bloomberg liked it. Governor Cuomo didn’t. Survey data at the time indicated that a majority (53%) of Americans favored such an approach.

New York City: Fingerprints for Auditing Food Stamps (October, 2011)
Governor Proposes to Prevent New York City From Using Biometrics To Stem Welfare Fraud (May, 2012)

USAA mobile biometric authentication opt-in data

Biometrics Find Support from an Unlikely Demographic: Seniors (American Banker)

More than 400,000 USAA customers, five of whom are over 90 years old, have opted in to use biometrics (face, voice or touch) to authenticate themselves to the company’s mobile banking application.

The median age for customers opting for biometrics is 3.5

About 7.5% are over the age of 65.

Four are in their nineties.

New biometrics advisors to focus on use cases

Market Research Firm Announces Biometrics Advisory Service (Find Biometrics)

Tractica’s approach is to focus on use cases, which Lockhart says “define the biometrics market opportunity.” The company has classified 142 use cases, and offers a profile specific to each with respect to “business function, industry, and modality.” And the advisory service consider a wide range of biometric modalities, from the widespread (fingerprint scanning, facial recognition) to the more obscure (electrocardiogram and DNA recognition).

Technology isn’t an application, so the focus on use cases is appropriate.

Face rec in China

Current facial recognition technology can do more than guess your age, as businesses are finding out (Global Times)

Concluding quote:

Besides traditional application for a secure entry or time clock system, facial recognition technology can be used in other fields such as remote identification.

The market for facial recognition technology is ultimately decided by the population. China has an immense population, which makes it a potentially huge market, according to the report from Bosi Data Research Center.

“But customers should know that multimodal biometric identification is much safer than single biometric identification, especially when the technology is used in finance,” Lü said. “We can’t ensure the facial recognition technology can be 100 percent accurate, and it’s safer if you can use other biometric identification together.”

There’s more good information at the link.