Biometrics

  • ForensicsInvestigative genetics technology helps nab criminals

    Every year, investigators collect tens of thousands of biological samples from crime scenes that may hold valuable clues to solving criminal cases. Unlocking those clues now is easier thanks to a new software solution unveiled last week by Battelle researchers who have applied advanced bioinformatics to next-generation sequencing data. ExactID analyzes biomarkers that can predict physical appearance, ancestry, clinical traits, and familial relationships among people. This information can be invaluable to forensic analyses and case work.

  • Airport securityJapan to adopt automated airport gates equipped with facial recognition technology

    More than eleven million people visited Japan last year, the highest on record, and the government is anticipating close to twenty million foreigners in 2020, the year Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics and Paralympics. Japan plans to adopt automated airport immigration gates supported by facial recognition technology, because while the number of foreign visitors continues to increase, the number of immigration officers remains limited, or even shrinks. A general concern with using facial recognition technology at immigration gates is that passports can be valid for a decade, while a person’s appearance may change within that timeframe. Another concern with the proposed system is how facial data image collected will be stored or erased.

  • TerrorismNYC mayor de Blasio facing criticism for curbing counterterrorism programs

    New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is facing backlash over his decision to curb several counterterrorism programs introduced by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Among other things, de Blasio has restricted the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program; approved issuing municipal IDs of standards lower than those mandated by the federal government’s RealID program; is refusing to reinstate a special surveillance program which targeted Muslim communities in New York; and has also replaced the highly regarded deputy police commissioner for intelligence.

  • Visa controlU.S. student visa program fails to monitor participating schools: Lawmaker

    The number of student visa holders in U.S. colleges grew from 110,000 in 2001 to 524,000 in 2012. Today, more than 9,000 schools in the United States participate in the student visa enrollment program. The list includes reputable universities, but it also includes trade schools such as massage and beauty schools. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has introduced legislation to better monitor schools which attract foreign applicants. “It’s time to close the loopholes and clamp down on schools that have a poor track record with regard to foreign students,” Grassley said.

  • Visa controlDHS lost track of thousands of foreign students in U.S.

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has lost tabs on more than 6,000 foreign students who had entered the United States on student visas which have since expired — effectively vanishing without a trace. One of the major problems relating to student visas is the fact that the U.S. government continues to grant schools the power to accept overseas applications even if the schools have not been accredited by the state and have little academic and administrative oversight.

  • Real IDResidents of six Real ID-noncompliant states to face restrictions

    Massachusetts is one of the six states whose residents are unable to enter restricted parts of federal buildings without another identification card, such as a passport. The REAL ID measure requires states to verify citizenship and update security standards when issuing licenses. Officials in Massachusetts, Maine, Oklahoma, Alaska, Arizona, and Louisiana say that the REAL ID program will cost millions and that it raises privacy concerns and infringes on state’ rights.

  • BiometricsPhoto-ID security checks flawed: Study

    Passport issuing officers are no better at identifying whether someone is holding a fake passport photo than the average person, new research has revealed. A pioneering study of Australian passport office staff revealed a 15 percent error rate in matching the person to the passport photo they were displaying. In real life this degree of inaccuracy would correspond to the admittance of several thousand travelers bearing fake passports.

  • Real IDArizona voted against complying with Real ID, and state residents now face the consequences

    In 2008, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill (HB 2677), signed by then-Governor Janet Napolitano, prohibiting the state from complying with the Real ID Act. Limits on people without a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, such as no access to federal facilities, will be phased in in three stages – 21 April 2014, 21 July 2014, and 19 January 2015. Those who do not have a Real ID will need a passport, a second form of identification, or an “enhanced” driver’s license.

  • CybersecurityIs Facelock the password alternative we’ve been waiting for?

    By Philip Branch

    One of the problems with using passwords to prove identity is that passwords that are easy to remember are also easy for an attacker to guess, and vice versa. Nevertheless, passwords are cheap to implement and well understood, so despite the mounting evidence that they are often not very secure, until something better comes along they are likely to remain the main mechanism for proving identity. But maybe something better has come along. Researchers propose a new system based on the psychology of face recognition called Facelock. But how does it stack up against existing authentication systems? The idea certainly sounds interesting and the technical challenges in implementing such a system do not seem great. But there are difficult questions regarding cost, selection and security of images that need to be answered before it becomes a practical alternative to passwords.

  • VisasEconomic relationships, not terrorism fears, drive visa decisions: study

    Despite heightened focus on preventing global terrorism since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, researchers have found that the economic relationship between two countries is the most significant factor in determining the acceptance or rejection rate of visas. “Surprisingly what I find is the global reputation a state garners as a prominent origin of terrorism has a very minute impact when you take into account trade interdependence,” the study’s author says.

  • BiometricsA first: Armed robber convicted based on Chicago’s facial recognition technology

    Pierre Martin became the first person in Chicago to receive a prison sentence after being convicted based on evidence from the city’s facial recognition technology, NeoFace. Martin was sentenced Monday to twenty-two years for two armed robberies carried out on the Chicago Transit Authority(CTA) train system in January and February 2013. A few weeks after the incidents, Chicago Police Department officials announced that Marin was identified using facial recognition software.

  • BiometricsImproved performance of facial recognition software

    Who is that stranger in your social media photo? A click on the face reveals the name in seconds, almost as soon as you can identify your best friend. While that handy app is not quite ready for your smart phone, researchers are racing to develop reliable methods to match one person’s photo from millions of images for a variety of applications.

  • SurveillanceNSA, other agencies, collect millions of images for large facial recognition databases

    The NSA, through its global surveillance operations, has been accumulating millions of images from communication interceptions for use in high-level facial recognition programs, according to classified 2011 documents leaked by Edward Snowden. The documents do not reveal how many people have been targeted with facial recognition programs, but given the NSA’s foreign intelligence mission, a bulk of the imagery collected would involve foreign nationals.

  • ImmigrationDHS wants changes in Calif.’s ID for undocumented immigrants

    California is preparing to issue drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants who have been permitted to stay in the United States, but DHS has rejected the state’s design for the license card. DHS wants the cards to be unique enough to distinguish them from regular drivers’ licenses, but immigrant rights activists do not want the design to be so different that license holders would suffer from discrimination.

  • AviationTSA expands PreCheck screening program to international airlines

    The TSA is expanding its PreCheckscreening program to passengers on international airlines. Air Canada is the first international carrier to join the list of PreCheck carriers, which already includes several U.S. airlines.Some international airlines are reluctant to join the PreCheck carrier list because it entails upgrading their computer systems to print a PreCheck logo and embed PreCheck data in their boarding pass barcodes. With Air Canada joining the list, the TSA believes other foreign carriers with a large U.S. passenger base would benefit if they offered PreCheck status to their customers.