Board Member Profile: Teresa Wu, Chair
The IdTA Team is excited to kick off our new series of board member profiles to give you a little more insight into our leadership and these important leaders in the biometric industry.
How did you first get involved in the biometrics industry? My career in the biometrics industry started nearly two decades ago, when I accepted an internship with French defense and security company Sagem to work in the field of biometric access control and secure payment terminal. It was during this internship, in the months immediately following the 9/11 attacks, that I began to understand the importance of biometrics in the context of security, and I haven’t looked back.
As you look the biometrics industry today, what do you believe the biggest opportunities are in the coming 12-24 months? The adoption of biometrics by the travel and hospitality industries is what excites me about the months to come. Apple and its ‘Touch ID’ deserve credit for propelling biometrics into the consumer space, but this technology was primarily designed to enhance user experience and convenience. Moving forward, the biggest opportunities for the biometrics industry can be found at the intersection of convenience, privacy, security and facilitation.
With so much press attention being paid to biometric issues including facial recognition, what do you think federal policymakers need to know about the technology and its use by law enforcement agencies? Policymakers need to understand that the performance of facial recognition technology improves each and every month – there is no stable status quo in terms of accuracy or speed. Given this rapid pace of innovation, it’s critical that we don’t reject the technology because of fear or outdated assumptions. Rather, we need a continuous, constructive and open-minded approach to policy discussions. Policymakers should also understand that the adoption of facial recognition systems by law enforcement depends not only on strong R&D, but also a robust examination of other key success factors like the development of procedures, policy guidelines, training to control the human factor, and overall governance. Vendors with years of experience supporting law enforcement agencies with real-world use cases, challenges and problem-solving is key to the responsible, ethical and lawful use of facial recognition systems.
What federal government agencies stand out as leaders on biometrics deployment, and why? It’s difficult to single out one or two agencies as biometric leaders, especially because many of them have been using the technology prior to 2001. In my view, the most successful agencies in this respect are those that proactively articulate their strategic vision on biometrics, transparently conduct privacy impact assessments and express interest in public-private engagement. I’m particularly excited when I see strategic plans that envision biometrics in a Fit-for-Purpose framework, which can enhance versatility and function as a force multiplier.
What do you think is the public’s single biggest misconception about biometrics, and how would you correct the record The biggest misconception among the public is that biometrics can only be used to invade or violate another’s privacy rights. But biometrics and privacy are not mutually exclusive – when responsibly deployed within the right framework and architecture, biometrics actually enhances privacy.
As Chairman of IdTA, what do you hope to accomplish for the organization, and the industry? I am extremely honored to have the trust of my peers. As chairman, I hope IdTA can be a driving force in enabling positive and constructive dialog between stakeholders about identification technologies. Along with digital identity insurance, cybersecurity and IoT security, biometrics is another technology that government can leverage to protect people, data, and physical assets. We at IdTA look forward to moving that conversation forward.