I am constantly surprised by how far biometric corporations will go to exploit COVID-19. But nothing and I mean nothing could have prepared me for what I read this past Friday.
Planet Biometrics reported that Science Media Partners is planning to hold the world’s largest “home” identity webinar from May 4th -May 12th.
‘Science Media Partners has announced plans for a groundbreaking online event entitled the Festival of Identity, noting it will be a new, positive, and exciting webinar platform that will serve the whole identity community during these difficult times.”
Calling the largest home identity webinar in the world a festival, is a misnomer at best. Dictionary.com says the definition of a festival is “unrestrained joy”, Your Dictionary calls it a “celebration.” When biometric companies show unrestrained joy for finding new ways to identify people staying at home, everyone should take notice.
What is the reason Science Media Partners is holding the world’s largest home identity webinar during a pandemic? It is to help governments and private corporations identify people staying at home, of course.
“The world finds itself in a time of great uncertainty and unprecedented change, with life having been turned upside down. Working from home has become the new normal, domestic travel has become the exception, international travel a rarity. Privacy and rights are being increasingly challenged – albeit most often with good reason. Across the world, governments and corporations are grappling with issues such as population management, dispersal of benefits, IT security and considering how we can finally exit from citizen lockdown strategies.”
COVID-19 has changed the way governments and corporations can identify and monitor people.
Governments are worried that police can no longer rely on CCTV cameras, license plate readers and contact-tracing to identify people.
“If only some company could solve this privacy dilemma and find a way for governments and corporations to monitor people at home, then we could all feel a sigh of relief”, I sarcastically said to myself.
Six days from now, the world’s largest home identification webinar called “The Festival of Identity” will begin to do just that. To date, there are seven free webinars designed to help governments monitor and identify people who are staying at home.
Monday May 4
“The Identity Landscape: COVID-19 Changes Everything”
“Proportionate Use Of Surveillance Technologies During Lockdown”
“Seamless And Hygienic Identity Technologies For Future Travel”
Monday May 11
“Are Your Security Credentials Going To The Real Service Provider?”
Tuesday May 12
“How To Make Law Enforcement Systems Interoperable And Available On Any Device”
The Festival of Identities mission is to accelerate the growth of government-run biometric solutions.
“Our global event aims to be a significant identity industry catalyst. The overarching mission is to help accelerate the move towards a world where trusted identity solutions enable governments and commercial organisations to provide citizens, employees, customers and consumers with a multitude of opportunities to transact in a seamless, yet secure manner. All the while thwarting the efforts of those intent on doing harm.”
I find it ironic that a company who’s slogan is “exploring the future of government commercial and citizen identity solutions” appears to be concerned with customers and consumers.
The Festival Of Identity is a “one-stop-shop for any company involved in authenticating human identity, whether via a secure credential, biometric, or online/digital identity solution.” And that really says it all. (To see their long list of biometric sponsors and exhibitors click here.)
A company called ABI Research, which bill’s itself as an IoT research company that “has partnered with hundreds of leading technology brands, cutting-edge companies, forward-thinking government agencies”, is offering a new webinar called “After The Coronavirus: What Will Drive The IoT Market Through 2020.”
The webinar is designed to help biometric companies profit from tracking potential COVID-19 patients.
“As one country, region or city gets infections under control, another is responding in dramatic ways to limit the pandemic’s damage. Under these conditions, asset visibility and connected operations will become even more critical for enterprise viability in uncertain times but also for long-term success.“
“Asset visibility and connected operations” is a fancy way of saying market awareness or capitalization. The more services biometrics companies can offer, i.e., facial recognition/thermal imaging, heartbeat measuring etc., the more governments will want to use their services
ABI Researchs’s summation of how biometric companies are profiting from COVID-19 is incredulous.
“The pandemic is also driving renewed emphasis on contactless, biometrics and surveillance technologies to add resilience to connected operations and enable novel approaches to connected solutions.”
To be clear, the pandemic is not driving the need for biometric surveillance, it is the biometric industry themselves who see a chance to take advantage of our fears.
ABI Research is the same company that recently predicted that COVID-19 would prove to be a boon for public surveillance robotics and drones. We cannot afford to allow shameless biometric companies to profit from COVID-19. If we remain silent and let fear rule us, then not even our home’s will be safe from Big Brother’s prying eyes.