SGI Turning to Facial Recognition Software to Prevent ID Theft

6 November 2015

In an effort to thwart driver’s license fraud, Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is rolling out new facial recognition technology that can help prevent identity theft.

To identify faces, the technology measures the shapes of certain facial landmarks on a person’s photo, such as his or her eyes, nose or jaw, as well as the distance between a person’s eyes. It then compares the measurements against every other face in the system. If it detects any overlap, it alerts analysts who try to figure out why the duplicate exists. Sometimes, it is as simple as a clerical error or the result of a name change after a divorce or marriage. Other times, however, it shines a light on somebody trying to skirt around the law.

Protecting photo IDs is crucial to cracking down on identity theft, as people use driver’s licenses to do everything from cashing checks to opening bank accounts to boarding domestic flights. The ubiquity of this software would have far-reaching effects on the ability of identity thieves to operate without detection.

“It protects the integrity of our ID program, to identify those people who may have multiple IDs,” Cari Donaldson, assistant vice president of licensing with SGI, told the CBC.

In addition to cleaning up instances in which multiple people use copies of a single person’s ID, facial recognition software could keep those with suspended licenses from obtaining a new one under a false identity, which could help improve road safety.

While this powerful technology will help protect consumers from identity theft, it should do so without them even noticing. The software will run in the background without affecting the customer experience. Unless, of course, there is a problem with the person’s license.

As always, collecting so much information about people raises questions about how the data will be secured. According to the CBC, Donaldson says SGI will not share any information collected by the system with external agencies. This being said, however, some data could be accessed by law enforcement if given the proper court authority.

SGI plans to implement the technology, developed by Veridos Canada Inc., in August 2016. That would make it the last provincial licenser in Canada to adopt this type of software.