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Facing up to the identity authentication challenge – The growing role of Optical Machine Authentication (OMA) and especially Optical Phone Authentication (OPA)


 By Joachim Caillosse - Chair of the SIA Document Security Working Group, Frank Smith, Advisory Observer to the SIA and Thomas Poreaux - Member of the SIA Document Security Working Group. 




The use of false identities is a problem that goes far beyond the area of border control. Though fraudulent identification documents are commonly associated with issues like immigration, they can also be used to aid serious organised crime, terrorism, fraud, and a range of other threats. As a result, accurate verification of identity documents is now a major concern in additional contexts including areas such as financial services and digital retail.



'Authentication: Are You Who You Claim to Be?'is a new guide from the SIA that addresses the challenge of identity authentication. Discussing the inherent difficulty in validating someone’s identity, as well as some of the solutions that are currently available, the report also provides detailed use cases and recommendations for anyone who may be looking to improve their understanding of this critical practice.



In this blog, we provide a summarised view of some of the key themes covered in the guide.

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Re-use and interoperability: making health certificates a workable reality


 sia eu green pass health small


As governments and NGOs look to health certificates as a response to the challenge of safely reopening borders and reinstating freedom of movement for citizens, there is now a very real urgency in consolidating approaches, agreeing standards and achieving interoperability. Failure to do so will reduce international acceptance and threaten to derail these important initiatives. Here, we take a look at the key issues.


Health certificates schemes promise to streamline how people demonstrate they are unlikely to either catch or spread a particular disease, or diseases. While not a new concept, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought discussions of wider adoption and standardized adoption into sharp refrain.


In today’s context, these schemes use physical and/or digital certificates to make it easier for airlines, airports, border control agencies and others to verify whether a certificate holder has been vaccinated against COVID-19, has tested negative for the virus, or has recovered from it.


The increasingly widespread introduction of these certificates has allowed governments to lift a number of pandemic-related restrictions – from cross-border travel to attending large public gatherings such as sporting events.


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Facial Recognition Technologies: What’s at Stake and Why

 sia artificial intelligence small

On April 21, 2021, the European Commission proposed new rules and actions on the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems with the stated objective to “turn Europe into the global hub for trustworthy artificial intelligence”.


Following a risk-based approach, the proposals will ban those AI systems considered a clear threat to the safety, livelihoods and rights of people. Others will be rated on a risk scale from high to minimal. In particular, all remote biometric identification systems are considered high risk and subject to strict requirements.


Secure Identity Alliance (SIA), whose members are European and global leaders in this fast-emerging space, are supportive of the principles to ensure excellence and trust in AI systems, and believe a fit-for-purpose framework has the potential to become an adopted standard around the world – as has been the case with the General Data Protection Regulation.


However, SIA believes that the rules governing the development and provision of AI systems should be proportionate.


As the proposals stand today, there is a concern that some rules threaten to stifle innovation and therefore undermine the stated goals of the Commission and the position of Europe as a leader in this critical field of technology.


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Passport Fraud Trends and Ways to Combat Them






By Joachim Caillosse, Chair of the Secure Document Working Group of the Secure Identity Alliance


An in-depth new guide to help tackle passport booklet fraud


Document fraud is a serious crime, one that has implications that stretch from personal identity theft all the way through to national security. Moreover, document fraud often serves as the foundation upon which other threats are built – human trafficking, drug smuggling, and terrorism amongst them.


Passport fraud is a key part of this landscape, and a growing problem. While Covid-19’s debilitating affect on international travel has helped to slow the rise of passport fraud over the past 12 months, the longer-term picture tells a different story altogether Some 100m travel documents were reported lost or stolen in 20201 and according to Frontex Risk Analysis, passports represented 47% of the fraudulent documents detected at European Union external borders in 2019, leading some commentators to decry a growing passport fraud “epidemic2”.


Ever keen to raise awareness of identity-related threats and provide guidance on the latest defences and countermeasures, the Secure Identity Alliance (SIA) has this week launched its “Passport Fraud Trends and Ways to Combat Them” report – a comprehensive overview of the current travel document security landscape.

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The changing face of identity


By Michael Brandau, Chair of the Secure Identity Alliance's Border Working Group.


With technology, Covid-19, and a number of other factors driving major change at the border, the Secure Identity Alliance has updated Strong Identity Strong Borders, a guide designed to help anyone who wants to understand the subject more, but who is not an expert.

Strong Identity, Strong Borders introduces the key concepts and explores the evolution of border control, and how those responsible for safeguarding their territory can embrace new approaches around identity in order to create secure, seamless, and streamlined passenger experiences.


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10 Principles for Good ID: A 2021 Refresh

ID4D Principles web 2021


Today the refreshed Principles on Identification for Sustainable development were published. Secure Identity Alliance is proud to have once again been asked to contribute to this important body of work to ensure that these updated Principles reflect today’s changing world and its own vision of supporting the provision of legal, trusted identity for all.


Five years ago the Secure Identity Alliance, along with other organisations committed to the development of ID systems that are inclusive, trusted, and accountable and supported the development of a set of shared ‘Principles for Good Identification’.

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Giving Voice to Digital Identities Worldwide: Lessons and Insights from Around the Globe






by Kristel Teyras, Chair of the Digital ID Working Group of the Secure Identity Alliance


With governments poised to accelerate national digital ID programs, the SIA commissioned a study to uncover lessons learned from innovative, real-life digital ID deployments around the world.


Providing unprecedented ‘on the ground’ insights and perspectives, the study produced in partnership with onepoint gives a unique voice to stakeholders from 25 innovative sovereign digital ID schemes. Their shared learnings highlight the guiding principles and good practices that are critical for driving usage, adoption, and success – regardless of the digital ID model adopted.

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Secure Physical ID Matters – even in a virtual world

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In the modern world it’s easy to characterize physical ID documents as outdated and irrelevant. But to do so would be to overlook the practical realities, and ubiquitous adoption, of these durable physical credentials.


We live in a world where the movement towards mobile and digital formats for a wide variety of identity documents – such as national IDs and driver licenses – is already underway. Indeed, the COVID-19 public health crisis has served to propel Governments to accelerate digital (mobile) ID adoption so locked-down citizens could still securely access a range of digital public and private services. Everything from registering a child’s birth to collecting pension payments, and using their digital ID to prove their ‘key worker’ status and permission to travel.


But that doesn’t mean that the physical ID document is no longer needed. Rather than simply being replaced by new digital formats, they continue to be the pre-requisite for the overall success of many schemes.

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Digital Travel Credentials (DTC) – the story so far

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While domestic and international restrictions imposed to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus have a tremendous impact on cross-border passenger volumes, and the longer-term picture remains unclear, it is no less important to continue to leverage the latest technologies to both strengthen borders and improve traveller experiences.


Over recent years, the technology has radically evolved in fields such as identity, security, biometrics and mobile applications to do exactly this. Technology has already transformed the world of border security and efficient processing of passengers, for example through secure ePassports (also known as electronic Machine Readable Travel Documents or eMRTD), automated eGates, biometrics used to assure visa regimes, and mobile boarding passes.


However, the story is far from complete. A newer generation of secure and efficient solutions are just beginning with the development of the Digital Travel Credential (DTC).

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Digital Identity – learning from a crisis

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An immediate analysis of the coronavirus crisis highlights, among other things, the significant and growing role of technology in general, and digital identity in particular, in helping citizens, businesses and government agencies adapt and respond.


With citizens in many countries forced into homeworking and home-schooling, most at incredibly short notice, many millions turned to digital tools to communicate, collaborate, work and transact online. While these proved helpful for knowledge workers and those businesses with flexible (and often cloud-based) IT infrastructures, the crisis uncovered huge areas for improvement.


This was particularly clear when it came to access to the provision of public services – many of which lacked a cohesive digital alternative to face to face interactions. At the heart of the issue was the lack of a digital identity that would allow citizens to securely access services remotely.


For those citizens unable to access basic public services and social protections in a digital context, this lack of a digital identity and a connected ecosystem of digital service caused considerable problems.


This, Secure Identity Alliance (SIA) believes, is one of the key learnings to take away from the crisis. A secure and universally trusted digital identity, based on a government root and sourced from civil registries, is fundamental to the development of a wider ecosystem of both public and private services.

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Digital Identity and the Rise of Mobile ID

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How to address the challenge of enabling the delivery of trusted mobile ID that’s secure, convenient, and easy for citizens to use


Digital identity sits at the heart of economic and social transformation. Around the globe, governments are busy fast-tracking the delivery of streamlined e-services that touch every aspect of people’s lives – from paying tax to accessing healthcare and education.

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Out of Africa

 Picture : Mr Eng Engr. Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, Director General/CEO, NIMC, Nigeria and Chair of the OSIA Advisory Committee and Ms Debora Comparin, Chair of the OSIA Workgroup, Secure Identity Alliance on stage at ID4Africa for the launch of OSIA.


Following the successful launch of OSIA (Open Standards Identity API) at ID4Africa in Johannesburg, the Secure Identity Alliance is happy to welcome the following government agencies in its OSIA Advisory Committee:

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Open Source API for National ID Ecosystems: Assuring Interoperability and Harmonization for Sovereign ID Programs

The SIA’s pioneering new Open Source API will bring interoperability among civil registration and civil identification registries – independent of technology, solution architecture or vendor.


Citizens around the world depend on government issued identities to prove they are who they say they are and to undertake commonplace transactions – from opening bank accounts or registering for school, to obtaining formal employment or receiving social transfers.


It is crucial, therefore, that governments are able to ensure citizens are the same person across all these various registries and issuing agencies, and that an individual’s data – or attributes – are up-to-date. Doing so protects the individual against the risk of identity theft and state agencies against fraud.


To achieve this objective these different registries need to ‘talk’ to one another.


It is this imperative that is currently driving governments around the globe to rollout national ID ecosystems in which multiple identity registries and systems, serving different functions, operate together as a cohesive whole.

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Identity in Healthcare - A key Enabler to Integrated Care

Efficient and reliable patient identify management will be an essential element in making the benefits of integrated care a reality. This was the core message at the launch of a joint new publication from COCIR and the SIA entitled ‘Identity in Healthcare’ at the HIMSS Europe and Health 2.0 conference in Barcelona. The publication brings much-needed clarity and key recommendations to the ID challenge facing the health sector.

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Points de repère pour l’identité numérique en Afrique


Ouverte par le Premier ministre de Namibie, la troisième conférence bilingue (français-anglais) du mouvement ID4Africa (1) a réuni près de 1000 des acteurs de l’identité numérique à Windhoek en Namibie, de plus de 30 pays.

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Digital Channels and the Evolution of ID

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While the concept of identity (ID) remains unchanged, the rapid evolution of digital technology has dramatically extended both its application and form factor.

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Ten Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development

Principles on Identification With collage Blue EXT

Today, the Secure Identity Alliance has joined the global partnership network on identification and endorsed the Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development: Toward the Digital Age which aims to provide a set of guidance in establishing and utilizing legal identification systems for sustainable development.

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Public-private cooperation to build digital identity systems

build digital identity


Today, the World Bank, Secure Identity Alliance, and GSMA have launched a joint white paper, “Digital Identity: Towards Shared Principles for Public and Private Sector Cooperation”.

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Disponible en français! 'Civil Registry Consolidation through Digital Identity Management’ report in support of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Ce rapport devrait être d' un intérêt particulier pour les organisations internationales et les organismes gouvernementaux qui sont impliqués dans la création ou la réorganisation de l'état civil et des systèmes d'identité

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'Civil Registry Consolidation through Digital Identity Management’ report in support of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This report should be of particular interest to international organizations and government agencies that are involved in the establishment or reorganization of civil registration and identity systems.

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Identity Management in 2030

By courtesy of our Government Observer Member, the National Office for Identity Data, Dutch Ministry of Interior and Kingdom relations.

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The interoperability challenges at the heart of cross-border ID discussions - Published at SDW in London - June 2015

As the appetite for developing identity-based e-government services grows, Jacques van Zijp, Board Member from Secure Identity Alliance discusses the interoperability challenges now at the heart of cross-border ID discussions.

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Identity in a Hyper Connected Mobile World - Published at Connect:ID - March 2015

Identity is going digital, and moving to the mobile. For most, this is a positive step. Identity is proliferating at an incredible rate. From the low level ‘sign-in through Facebook’ variants to high security access to, and usage of, a new range of central government and smart city services, the ability to prove who we say we are (when we’re mobile) is a strategic imperative. And It’s not just about convenience or security.

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eID - Helping secure efficient social protection programs for communities around the globe

Presentation given by Jacques van Zijp on eID and Social Protection Programs in the Developing Countries at SDW2014 in London

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eIDAS: A Major Step Towards Digital Europe!

We have asked Guy de Felcourt, Digital Identity Strategy Advisor and Published Author, who animated the BMI-Secure Identity Alliance eIDAS Workshop to tell us why EU Regulation No.910/2014 represents a major step forward in enabling digital identity in Europe and examines the value this will deliver for member states, companies and citizens.

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How eID is helping secure social protection and unlocking a sustainable, empowered future for communities around the globe

This quarter, Jacques Van Zijp, Board Member of the Secure Identity Alliance looks at how eID is helping secure social protection and unlocking a sustainable, empowered future for communities around the globe.

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The trouble with weak IDs building strong identities

January 2014: This quarter, Gareth Thomas, Board Member of the Secure Identity Alliance looks at the trouble with weak IDs building strong identities

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Accelerating the creation and deployment of e-Government services by ensuring Citizen’s Privacy, Security, Convenience and Trust

Opening keynote speech at Secure Document World 2013 by Frédéric Trojani, Chairman, Secure Identity Alliance

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eGovernment will save the public purse in excess of $50 bn per year by 2020, according to new global research from the Secure Identity Alliance.

Highlighting the continued importance of cost and citizen experience drivers, the report highlights the role of trusted digital identity in enabling effective and secure eService deployment.

And with this change come some serious issues.

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