According to United Nations, there are over 232 million people now live outside of their original country; this equates to 3.2% of the global population. More people are on the move than at any time in human history due to easier and cheaper international travel. The number of immigrants and refugees are also increasing each year. These situations represent a complex set of challenges for defense, law enforcement and national security.
In 2017, identity theft hit a record high. Javelin Strategy & Research’s latest survey revealed that 16.7 million individuals were affected by ID theft, the most ever. In which, 150 million Social Security numbers and 50 million credit cards were stolen. Among different types of identity theft, criminal identity theft is considered one of the most common types in America which has affected numerous individuals. This type of crime happens when an impostor provides to law enforcement officer another person’s name and personal information (such as a drivers’ license, date of birth, or Social Security Number) during an investigation or upon arrest.
Since the adoption of biometrics in law enforcement activities, criminals have to reveal their true identity and the victims can now claim back their clear records. In recent years, there is a strong wave implementing biometric recognition around the world including the US, UK, China, Namibia, and Australia, just to name a few. The biometric integrated handheld device is becoming popular along the way thanks to its mobility, low-cost and efficiency. The most common modality being used is still fingerprint scan; however, it is shifting toward face and iris recognition for higher accuracy with affordable cost. Moreover, combining 2 or more biometric modalities will be better than one. With biometric integrated handheld device, the officer can collect suspects’ biometrics or compare them with stored database in the field which prevents unnecessary trips back to the station.
American law enforcement such as FBI and Marine Corps are one of the leaders embracing the use of biometrics with its Fingerprint Identification Record System (FIRS) and Next Generation Identification (NGI) system. BioSled – a handheld device based on an Android smartphone used by USSOCOM which can collect fingerprint, facial and iris scan is a successful example. The device is noted as significantly small, light, cheap and intuitive. A report by IB Times in May 2016 said that the FBI now has the largest biometric database in the world. FBI’s successful case has inspired other US departments and countries to adopt biometrics.
In early 2017, reporter said that the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Bureau was looking for information on mobile devices it can use in the field to securely capture biometric and biographic information from unknown individuals. INTERPOL is also working to increase the use of its biometrics databases and capabilities to better track their movements globally. In August 2016, a report says that South Australian police are going to adopt facial recognition for the Northern territory of the country. In southern Africa, Namibian police force became the first law-enforcement agency to introduce an automated biometric identification system. Or according to Wired, UK police are now using a mobile fingerprinting system on the streets to identify people in less than a minute.
Frost & Sullivan predicts that the global law enforcement biometrics market will grow fast forward to over $1.1 billion in 2021. In addition, U.S. governmental expenditures for biometric is expected to reach US$8.6 billion by 2020, reported by ABI Research. We are living in a globalized world which is changing fast and biometrics should be universally adopted in defense and law enforcement to assure citizen’s identity as well as national security.