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Mary Cruse / Unfold Stories

In Brief: News from Connect:ID, Washington DC

Highlights from the Connect:ID global identity event

Mary Cruse - Chief Reporter for Good ID - recently traveled to Washington DC, to report from, and speak at, Connect:ID 2020 - an annual global identity conference that attracts 2.5 thousand attendees from over 50 countries worldwide.

This, of course, was before the full force of the COVID-19 crisis was felt across the globe. COVID-19 will impact and inform the digital identity discourse in myriad ways. To find out what the experts think about the ramifications for privacy, human rights, e-government, and user control, tune in to the #GoodID Twitter Chat, taking place very soon.

From where we stand now, it’s hard to comprehend that just a few short weeks have passed between now and the Connect:ID conference in early March. But the meeting provided a clear taste of what was to come.

The event featured speakers from across the identity community - including Louisiana Congressman, Clay Higgins, and Arwen Smit, author of Identity Reboot - covering topics such as combating identity fraud, privacy and consent, cybercrime and law enforcement, and ID verification.

But the occasion was cut short on the afternoon of the first day, when the conference organizers announced that the remainder of the event was to be canceled, after the conference center opted to shut down for safety reasons.

Despite this unexpected turn of events, the first day of the event proved extremely fruitful, with a series of inspiring talks from a number of key industry figures. We’ve assembled some of our highlights below in a quickfire summary:

Diverse ID

The morning opened with Women in Identity representatives, Kay Chopard and Teresa Wu, exploring unconscious bias and the importance of diversity in the identity sector.

In one memorable example, the speakers shared a story of software engineers at Google, who found that a significant number of videos uploaded to YouTube on mobile were being displayed upside down. The cause of this was that the engineers didn't consider left-handed users when they designed the app, meaning that videos made by a left-hander appeared to be the ‘wrong’ way round.

The story highlights the importance of ensuring diverse teams in the identity space, encapsulating the organization’s tagline: Digital identity solutions built for everyone are built by everyone.

The Philosophy of ID Ethics

Presented by ITIF Research Analyst, Michael McLaughlin, this session proved particularly thought-provoking. McLaughlin drew on centuries of philosophical thought to interrogate the ethics of facial recognition technology.

Touching on the theories of Immanuel Kant, the philosophy of consequentialism, and Sir David Ross’ modern approach to duty-based ethics, McLaughlin considered the different conclusions a philosopher might draw regarding the technology.

Noting that facial recognition could aid in law enforcement, healthcare, and consumer product design, the speaker ultimately advocated for an approach that balances the potential benefits of the technology with our duty to safeguard privacy and human rights.

Digital Travel

The future of travel was a key topic of discussion at Connect:ID, with speakers from both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) taking the stand for keynote sessions.

The transformative potential of facial biometrics was highlighted as particularly significant by speakers John Wagner of the CBP and Austin Gould, of the TSA. Each speaker highlighted the benefits, from both a law enforcement perspective and a customer experience perspective, of improved facial recognition technology at the border.

While such technology does exist in major airports around the U.S., Asia, and Europe, advancements in capabilities could ultimately see facial recognition supplant the need for boarding passes and passports in the not-too-distant future.

Hungry for more? Check out the Connect:ID website

And if you know of an unmissable identity event, activity, or story taking place in 2020, get in touch with the Good ID team.