I am glad to report that ConnectID conference has finally found its form and direction.  Much has changed in the past 4 years.

Though the word ID is in the conference name it’s clear that biometrics are now front and center.  All forms of biometric modalities were in play 4 years ago, today it is clear that the Facial Recognition (FR) biometric is the winner in this race.

Tomorrow – You Own Your Identity

Opening remarks were provided by Laura Hart, VP of Business Operations at Qualcomm. Ms. Hart is passionate about identity and she, like many other identity thought leaders, sees identity changing dramatically at a very fast pace.

Today, your identity is owned by big data brokers, credit bureaus, etc. These companies profit off of something you should own, your identity data.  Tomorrow that power will be taken away from data brokers and put back into citizens’ hands, where you decide who should receive your identity data, what they should receive, how long they can use it, and what they can do with your personal information.

This concept is called Self Sovereign Identity in the blockchain world though Ms. Hart is using the words “Intelligent Identity.”  I am not sure which term will win but I am personally confident this concept has legs and will ultimately be the way identity is confirmed in both on and offline environments.

Amazingly this shift will make Identity stronger, irrefutable proof of Identity will be made possible using strong cryptography, the blockchain and biometrics, Identify fraud will become a thing of the past and that time is approaching quickly.

Protecting Our Borders

Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has fully embraced FR for exit from the country, soon to be deployed for entry as well.  When you look at the pilot programs its clear, FR can authenticate people with zero friction, this happens while travelers are waiting in lines so the face capture process has no impact to travel lines is required.

What was amazing to hear is that production of an ID to a TSA agent will soon become a thing of the past.  Because of the reliability of FR, TSA KNOWS who you are before you approach an agent, in fact they know who you are as soon as you enter the airport.  Imagine, no ID required to board a plane and that security is raised as a result!

Following that line of thought, “Push the Border Out” was a consistent theme amongst may speakers.  Instead of waiting for a potential threat to reach the US, we are now interdicting threats before they even board a plane to the US.

The Deputy Commissioner of CBP, Mark Waggoner gave a presentation Wednesday that outlined the various processes that are performed to push the border out.  As soon as a flight ticket is booked CBP starts to perform its due diligence, and that due diligence is extensive as we learned.  CBP has enormous support from other countries and has access to data that can reliably validate identity of travelers.  Risk is now assessed in real time; this process is called Pre-Clearance.

The new Policy Perspectives on Borders, Immigration and Extreme Vetting panel was interesting highlighted by comments from Paul Anstine who is a Staff Director for the subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security. Push the Border Out was the theme Mr. Anstine talked about extensively.  We have agents on the ground in 77 countries that carry out background investigations and identity verification on Visa applicants to the US. This seems very effective.  Every traveler will receive a “Pre-Clearance” or cannot even board the plane.  This program is meant to intradict bad actors before they ever reach US soil.  They also use the IDENT program where biometrics are captured on every traveler, again before the reach US soil.

Mr. Anstine noted that by 2016 all countries are now compliant with E-Passport requirements. This is a great development as biometrics are stored on the chip in the document meaning it’s impossible for someone to steal another’s identity document and use it successfully!

As great as all this progress sounds it is noted that the US is still far behind many other countries. Our neighbors to the north in Canada have moved the entire verification and declaration process to automated kiosks, no more paper forms.

The presentation by Nick Titcombe, a document specialist with the National Document Center of the Canada Border Services Agency, was fascinating. Nick showed incredible examples of high quality counterfeiting that truly requires laboratory analysis to detect.  In January of 2012 Canada created a new, highly secure Visa document with more than 30 security features.  By June they have detected high quality counterfeits that could not be detected without special equipment.