Editorial

Digital Identity: Global Roundup

Digital identity news from around the world

Posted 10 January 2022 by Christine Horton


Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Minister of State for Innovation and Technology (MInT) Huriya Ali has been quoted as saying a new national biometrics-based digital ID scheme will go a long way in expanding access to a wide range of services for citizens. It will also hasten the country’s trade relations with other nations of the continent, according to a report by the Ethiopian Herald, cited by Biometric Update.

Ali reportedly said recently that consultations on the nature of implementation of the digital ID card project were done with relevant stakeholders.

Highlighting some of the advantages of the national digital ID, Project Manager Yodahe Arayaselassie said it will among other things, “allow citizens access to many services expediently and confidentially, enable them to share permanent address information, as well as help boost the country’s economy in the domain of banking, health and education.”

Arayaselassie said registration for the card will rely on the collection of iris and fingerprint biometrics of applicants. The project intends to see the issuance of digital ID cards to about 95 percent of Ethiopians in the next four years, according to MInT officials.

United States / Latin America

Digital ID provider CLEAR has bought Whyline, which sells technology that enables virtual queuing and appointments for governments and businesses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Whyline, which launched in 2015, has recently been expanding in the US and Latin America. Its software enables customers to use the Whyline website or mobile app to not only secure their places in virtual lines but also see their live wait times.

Whyline partners include the Port of Seattle, Newark Liberty International Airport, Los Angeles World Airports, Charleston International Airport, Western Union, Banco Santander, Banco Macro, Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital and the city of Buenos Aires.

The acquisition, according to CLEAR, will enable the digital ID provider to expand into US government, banking and retail while also offering virtual queuing inside airports; help CLEAR find its way into more international markets; and leverage Whyline’s technology to boost CLEAR’s own products and platform.

Malaysia

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is launching a national digital identity and digital signatures project intended to expand access to online services.

Reports say the government agency project will also ensure seamless and secure access to online services thanks to MDEC’s digital ID and verification system. MDEC CEO Mahadhir Aziz is quoted as saying the move is in line with efforts to adapt to exigencies brought about by the pandemic.

“This necessitates new security measures, including easier authentication processes with new digital ID solutions. The proliferation of fintech also makes the digital ID market ripe for the picking – and Malaysia has local champions well-equipped to start plucking,” he said.

Malaysia is also working to have new biometrics-based ID cards in place by 2024.

Kenya

New proposals already in Kenya seek to introduce changes to the country’s Huduma Namba digital ID scheme.

One of the changes, according to local reports, makes Huduma Namba the only proof of ID in replacement of the current national ID cards which the government plans to progressively withdraw from official use.

The new bill, which is sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya, also proposes fines of up to Sh10,000 (approximately US$88.35) for those who will fail to show up for digital ID registration or include their children in the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) databases which Huduma Namba is built on.

United States

Air passengers with Apple devices will soon be able to verify their identity at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at two US airports by presenting a digital ID document such as their mobile driving licence (mDL) or state ID stored in Wallet.

The TSA is to begin trialling the use of Apple digital IDs as part of a pilot programme that will roll out to airports in “two additional states around March of 2022”, enabling travellers to tap their Apple device on an NFC reader or use a QR scanner to initiate an automated identity verification process.

“Standards-based digital IDs, such as state-issued mDL, will help streamline and secure the identity verification process,” the TSA told a Secure Technology Alliance event, where it confirmed it would be launching a “phased rollout, with mDL Apple Wallet integration being its first step”.

“Instead of TSA staff examining a physical ID card, manually comparing a traveller’s ID photo to their face and verifying flight information, a machine will automate the process.”

Greece

Greeks will soon be able to carry the downloaded full version of their digital IDs and mobile driver’s licences (mDLs) in digital wallets on their mobile phones, according to Ekathimerini citing Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis.

Biometric Update reports that at the moment, it is only possible to download part of the digital ID to serve the purpose of vaccine certificate verification, but the imminent full version will allow people to access to a range of services either from the government or from other institutions requiring ID verification.

Pierrakakis was quoted as telling Skai TV that: “We aim to have the biggest part of this work [ready] at the end of the first quarter of 2022, surely before Easter, we will have these changes in terms of the new identity card… and in terms of the driving license.”

The minister added that the partial digital ID had over 600,000 downloads within a space of 48 hours recently, according to Ekathimerini.

Nigeria

Nigeria’s federal government has once again extended the deadline for citizens to link their biometrics-backed digital IDs to their SIM cards. This will now run until March 31, 2022.

This comes as the association of telecoms subscribers in the country is raising concerns over plans to introduce digital tokens to enhance identity verification with the National Identification Number (NIN). The association says the move is clearly rushed as the federal government failed to consult relevant stakeholders.

United States

Sectigo has appointed David Mahdi, former VP analyst at Gartner, to the role of chief strategy officer and CISO Advisor. Mahdi will help lead the efforts to expand Sectigo’s leadership in the digital trust space.

Mahdi advised clients and executives on topics ranging from, cybersecurity, IAM, blockchain, PKI, IoT, cloud and data security during his tenure as a Gartner analyst. With a career spanning 20 years, Mr. Mahdi worked in areas such as hardware and software development, endpoint security, PKI, cryptography, blockchain, and digital identity (IAM).

Global

Prove has entered a new partnership with non-profit organisation The Knoble. Prove will provide The Knoble’s Financial Crimes Working Group with both digital identity expertise and financial support, in order to fight human trafficking, scams, child exploitation, and elder abuse.

In 2021, the organisation partnered with 1,100 financial crimes professionals and 50 partner organisations, collaborating on seven strategic initiatives against “human crimes” globally.

The new affiliation with Prove will now enable the non-profit to have access to additional digital identity authentication, identity verification, and fraud prevention tools.

Estonia

The Estonian government is yet to contract a digital identity solutions provider for the country’s updated mobile digital ID as the current contractor winds down.

Estonia issued a tender last year to replace the country’s current Smart-ID system. However, reports state that the only technology supplier that has expressed interest is Belgian Mobile ID, but the bid did not address several criteria set by Estonia.

As the contract of the current provider SK ID Solutions comes to an end on June 30 this year, 251,668 Mobile-IDs are said to have been issued to Estonians, and the mobile digital IDs of consumers will remain valid for the next five years from July 1.

Canada

A new report has revealed that the Toronto police were using Clearview AI’s software in their investigations, when their superiors did not know that they had access to the technology. CBC News obtained an internal document detailing the department’s use of Clearview AI through an access to information request.

The CBC report says that Clearview was used by 115 individual officers, who collectively uploaded more than 2,800 phots (and conducted more than 2,800 facial recognition searches) with the Clearview database. Searches were conducted over the course of 84 active investigations, 25 of which were advanced as a direct result of the use of facial recognition. In some cases, the police used the technology to identify a suspect. In others, it was used to identify a victim or a witness.

The problem, according to privacy watchdogs, is that those officers didn’t have formal permission to perform any of those searches. Clearview’s technology first cropped up on the Toronto police’s radar when a detective saw a demo at a victim identification conference in the Netherlands in October of 2019. Clearview gave Toronto officers access to a free trial shortly thereafter (the company made free trials readily available to police as part of a broader marketing strategy). It then spread rapidly within the department, with officers hosting an internal Clearview showcase for around 100 investigators in December of that year.