Hmm, how do we feel about this: one biometrics company is in charge of whether 800 million people can get into another country?

“Our ambition is to enable a secure and trusted environment for citizens and consumers alike to perform their daily critical activities (such as pay, connect, travel or access public or private spaces), in the real as well as digital worlds,” says IDEMIA

Posted 10 June 2020 by Gary Flood

There must be plenty of champagne flowing at French headquartered IDEMIA, which as just won not just a major, but a stellar, new biometrics contract with the EU.

How the rest of us will feel remains to be seen, as this puts the facial recognition, fingerprinting and iris resolution player in something of an insane position; now it will be processing not jut the images linked to the identities of 400 million European Union, its algorithms will also be used by Brussels to verify the identities of EU residents as part of the Shared Biometric Matching System, which will eventually be linked to existing databases in the EU, including the Visa Information System and Entry/Exit System… both of which are, uh-huh, already operated by IDEMIA.

In addition to all its European success, the firm also runs TSA PreCheck, a facial recognition company used by the New York Police Department, so 9 million people, plus has contracts with the US Department of State to manage the entire Federal passport database: that’s another 360 million of us.

And as a new article over at Medium publication about tech and science OneZero concludes, that means it’s now in control of whether 800 million people can enter the US, EU, and Australia:

“The company’s algorithms have now become the technology that decides if a person is allowed into much of the Western world.”

Yes, the article immediately clarifies – it doesn’t have direct access to this data, and these aren’t contracts for live facial recognition for the surveillance of borders.

By the way, we’re included even though we’ve left the EU: the Matching System will be third-country nationals, i.e. Brits, or people who aren’t from the EU who work for companies that are also not based in the EU, the site points out.

The piece concludes, “Even though travel has been greatly restricted due to the coronavirus, IDEMIA is a gatekeeper for much of the world – and deserves scrutiny as such.”