21st October 2020 - 3 min read
Singapore has become the first country in the world to incorporate the use of facial verification in its national digital identity scheme, SingPass. With the implementation of the new SingPass Face Verification technology, the city state’s citizens will soon be able to securely access both private and government services via a quick face scan.
Said to be fully available from 2021, the face recognition technology will allow those living in Singapore to tap into more than 400 government services without the need for passwords or security dongles. These include services such as tax declarations and public housing applications. Individuals can also use the biometric check – which works on home computers, tablets, mobile phones, as well as public kiosks – to access other online services and amenities, including banking facilities.
With regard to security issues such as identity fraud, Singaporean authorities reassured users that the new feature is designed to recognise if the right person is truly in front of the screen. They explained that the technology will capture a series of photographs of the individual’s face from various lights. Following that, these images will be compared to other data that are available to the Singaporean government, such as national identity cards, passports, and employment passes, for authenticity checks. As such, the technology will not be deceived by photographs, videos, replayed recordings, and deepfake images.
“We want to have assurance that the person behind the device is a real person… and that it is not an image or a video,” said the director of business development at Toppan Ecquaria, Lee Sea Lin. Toppan Ecquaria is one of the digital consultancies working with Singapore’s technology agency, GovTech, to launch the SingPass Face Verification technology.
Meanwhile, the senior director for the National Digital Identity Programme at GovTech, Kwok Quek Sin emphasised that no data will be shared with third parties for purposes of surveillance or data gathering. According to him, users will be provided with other log-in options, such as personal passwords, to access services if necessary. “It is not surveillance. The use is very specific,” he explained.
At present, the SingPass Face Verification technology is being tested at selected government offices, including the tax authority and Singapore’s pension fund. Private firms are invited to enrol in the trial as well, joining Singapore’s largest bank DBS as one of the participants.
The SingPass Face Verification technology serves as one of the city state’s efforts to employ technology in its advancement, which ranges from increasing the use of electronic payments to research on driverless transport. Singapore may also harness the new feature for other purposes in the future, such as identity checks for students to take their own exams, or for individuals in secure areas of the city state’s ports.
(Source: Unreserved Media)
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