Road2BUP: Privacy – Mobile Primer

This summer, in preparation for Biometrics UnPlugged, Mobile ID World – along with our sister site FindBiometrics – are taking part in a seasonal event, focusing on dynamic topics facing the identity management industries. In July, the focus was on next generation commerce. Now, with only a month to go before we head to Tampa, it’s time to take a look at privacy.

Here are three short briefs on some of the key topics in privacy right now:

Securing Your Mobile Identity

Identity is changing. Thanks to the ubiquity of connected devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops and (soon) wearables, a user’s online presence is just as much a part of her as her face. In June, we took a look at this next generation of identity that includes, location, device and now biometrics.

The problem that comes along with this quickly evolving identity, is that we as a society barely have the language to start talking about it let alone come up with rules and regulations protecting it. This is where the conversation of privacy and mobile ID begins.

Great Power and Great Responsibility

To the end user, convenience with assurance is what strong mobile identity management brings to the table. With strong authentication technology on your wrist, in your pocket and all around you, ideally you will never have to prove you are who you say you are ever again. Your location, devices and body will all provide enough assurance of who you are for such conveniences as mobile payments, banking, government e-services and other types of credentialing to be made possible from wherever you are.

This constant connectivity and characteristic measurement does bring with it a demand for trust. If a smartphone can constantly tell apps your location or your heart rate, then a user needs to understand who else has access to that information.

Going further down the rabbit hole, what about measurements that can be taken by other users without the knowledge of anyone else. One of the big conversations in mobile biometrics and privacy has to do with a Google Glass app that can identify real people in real time via a facial characteristic search, effectively allowing a stranger to learn biographical information about anyone she sees.

So, as with all types of revolutionary, paradigm-shifting technology, there is a balance that needs to be struck. Technology is never bad, but it can be used for bad things. It is the responsibility of people within the industry, the government and the public to communicate the acceptable use of what will soon become ubiquitous.

Educating The Masses

Step one in combating privacy concerns in mobile ID is education. Users need to know what information of theirs is valuable, how it is used and who they are allowing to use it. Already, this has become an uphill battle. Many people don’t seem to care who has their facial and location data, as the selfie trend, when combined with default geo-syncing social network settings can broadcast a lot of sensitive information to the public.

People should care about this, because other parties would like that information.

Alternately, there are existing privacy concerns, based on misconceptions, that cause fear of identity tech. Again, this comes down to a lack of education on the subject of identity. The public now has more identity information available for use than ever before and they need to know what they should be protecting. If a person’s smartwatch can tell her social network her average resting heart rate, then she deserves to know if that information is valuable.


Join us throughout August as we dive further into the topic of biometrics and privacy. Have something to add? Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #Road2BUP. Haven’t registered for Biometrics UnPlugged? Don’t worry, registration is still open.