We believe that our technology should keep people safe and work for everyone equally. So, we support the seven ethical principles for biometrics, released by the Biometrics Institute. These principles enable anyone working in the biometrics industry to show they’re committed to addressing ethical issues raised by new technology – biometrics in particular. Here are the seven principles. Ethical behaviour The first principle states that companies must act ethically even beyond the requirements of law. Ethical behaviour means avoiding actions which harm people and their environment. We’re proud to be one of the UK’s founding B Corps, which means that we are legally required to consider the impact of our decisions on our workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. B Corps focus on balancing purpose and profit, and using business as a force for good. That’s why our age estimation technology, Yoti Age Scan, uses artificial intelligence for good. It simply estimates your age by looking at your face. It doesn’t store the image it captures to estimate your age or any of your personal information. Ownership of the biometric and respect for individuals’ personal data This principle requires personal data, even when shared, to be respected and treated with the utmost care by others. One of our founding principles at Yoti is to encourage personal data ownership. We believe personal data should be exactly that: personal. Individuals shouldn’t have to share an excessive amount of sensitive, personal details simply to prove their age. That’s why Yoti Age Scan does not require individuals to register in advance or provide any documentary evidence of their identity. Serving humans Technology should serve humans and should take into account the public good, community safety and the net benefits to individuals. We agree that technology should be developed and used for good. Social networking site, Yubo, is already using Yoti Age Scan to be able flag any accounts where there is suspicion or doubt about a user’s age. It’s a vital step towards helping protect young people online. Retailers will soon be able to use Yoti Age Scan at self-checkouts to give shoppers a simple and secure way of proving their age for age-restricted goods, without needing to show physical ID or wait for staff assistance. Shoppers will spend less time at the self-checkout and retail staff will be free to help with other tasks, improving the overall shopping experience. ID documents can then be left at home. No one wants to lose their documents when they’re out and about or increase their risk of identity fraud. Justice and accountability Companies should accept the principles of openness, independent oversight, accountability and the right of appeal and appropriate redress. One of our founding principles is to be transparent and accountable. This means we’re open and transparent about how we operate. With this in mind, we published a whitepaper that explores Yoti Age Scan in detail. We also have an external Guardian Council to ensure that we always seek to do the right thing and are transparent about what we’re doing and why. Promoting privacy-enhancing technology Companies should promote the highest quality of appropriate technology use including accuracy, error detection and repair, robust systems and quality control. Yoti Age Scan is a privacy-preserving system. It simply estimates your age; you don’t need to register in advance or provide any more information about your identity. The image Yoti Age Scan captures to estimate your age is permanently deleted once your age has been estimated, protecting your privacy and identity. We are constantly improving our age estimation technology and believe it is among the industry leaders in terms of accuracy. We expect this mean average figure to decrease as we continue to train the system. Recognising dignity of individuals and families Companies should support the dignity and human rights of individuals and families provided that it does not conflict with the legitimate and lawful aims of the criminal justice system to protect the public from harm. As a B Corporation, one of the things we are measured on is how our operations and business model impacts our workers, community, environment and customers. From our supply chain and input materials, to our charitable giving and employee benefits, our B Corp certification proves we are meeting the highest standards of verified performance. The B Corp certification commits us to consider stakeholder impact for the long term by building it into our legal structure. Equality This principle promotes the planning and implementation of technology to prevent discrimination or systemic bias based on religion, age, gender, race, sexuality or other descriptors of humans. Our facial recognition solutions are designed to make life easier for everyone. So we continually train Yoti Age Scan on a diverse range of genders, ages and skin tones, and we believe it is crucial to have a transparent approach when launching new technology that uses facial recognition. We recognise the sensitivity of ethnic and gender diversity when applying machine learning techniques and share details of the accuracy rates for different ages and skin tones in our whitepaper. You can read it here.
As Director of Regulation and Policy at Yoti, I’m delighted to see techUK highlight the importance of secure digital identities in their new white paper ‘The Case for Digital IDs’. They argue that as the UK pursues the ambition to be the world-leading online economy, the need for digital identities is becoming ever more apparent. Secure and robust age verification for retailers Without secure identity solutions, individuals cannot easily and safely connect to digital services. If they need to verify their age online, they currently check an 18+ tickbox or manually enter their date of birth – both of which are open to abuse and can be easily falsified by minors. This is something we’ve worked to resolve with Jägermeister, who have integrated Yoti into their online shop. Individuals can now use the free Yoti app to prove their age when buying age-restricted items on the new www.jagershop.co.uk. A secure and robust age verification solution for both consumers and retailers. Yet when we wish to buy alcohol from the supermarket, or prove our age at a nightclub, we are forced to show physical ID documents, which can be easily lost or stolen. Last year the DVLA revealed that Brits spent £18.6m on replacing lost and damaged driving licences, and approximately 10,000 passports are lost per year at bars and clubs. While digital identities are starting to be adopted by online retailers, UK bricks and mortar retailers must also have the support to adopt new technologies in physical stores. These technologies can help improve the customer experience, as well as meet the needs of regulators. Being able to use a digital identity to prove our age in a supermarket will allow us to buy age-restricted items without intervention or assistance from retail employees. This is not only quicker and less of a nuisance for shoppers, but can greatly reduce friction between them and retail staff. Customers will spend less time at self checkouts and employees can assist with other tasks, improving the overall shopping experience. The ever-improving quality of fake IDs also makes it extremely challenging for retail staff to confidently check someone’s ID. Digital identities will remove the pressure staff face when required to confirm someone is over 18. Digital identity technology doesn’t get fatigued on a long shift and cannot show favour to personal friends or bias against individual customers. Utility, greater data privacy and social inclusion As techUK point out in their white paper, digital identities are the key for consumers to unlock the full benefits of digital innovation. Not only can they be used to give us a simpler and safer way of proving our age when buying age-restricted items without having to show physical ID documents, they could also be used to securely interact with government services online, prove our identity to businesses and swap verified details with online buyers and sellers. Simply put, all you have to do is create your digital identity once and you can use it time and time again. Digital identities are not only more convenient, they’re also more secure. They let us share specific identity details, instead of disclosing unnecessary, sensitive personal information. This gives us greater data privacy and ownership to help fight identity fraud. With data breaches hitting the headlines every week, it has never been more important to protect our personal details. Furthermore, some people are socially excluded because they do not have access to a physical document. A young person who doesn’t drive or can’t afford a passport would find it extremely difficult to prove their age to buy energy drinks or to access an age-gated online chat room for young people. Money and age should not be barriers to proving who you are. A PASS card (proof of age card), such as CitizenCard, can now be used as an anchor document to set up a digital identity. And using age estimation technology Yoti Age Scan, individuals will be able to prove their age in US supermarkets by simply looking into the camera at the self checkout. Digital citizens Digital identity technology is creating greater convenience to many citizens. The States of Jersey and The Improvement Service in Scotland have both adopted digital identity technology to transition more government services online and give their citizens a simple and secure way to prove their age and identity to businesses. It is encouraging that airports like Heathrow are embracing digital identity technology to help passengers have an easier and more convenient journey, and that the FCA is keen for financial services companies to embrace digital identities as part of the KYC process. Now that the Home Office has just launched a smartphone app with identity document verification for EU citizens applying for Settled Status, we will maybe see some changes for other sectors. Clearly if a digital identity smart phone app is secure enough for immigration, the same approach should be secure enough for age restricted purchases. It makes sense to create parity in the acceptance of digital and physical ID methods for age and identity both online and offline. And parity in enforcement. We need to remove barriers to the UK developing, deploying and adopting world-leading digital identity solutions and ensure the UK builds on its world firsts – the PAS 1296 standard for age checking and the BBFC audit framework for age proofing compliance under the Digital Economy Act. Between 20 and 25 million adults are expected to be age verifying digitally to access adult content. Hopefully soon there will be parity and we will also be able to use our identity apps at self checkouts and on nights out. This will also lower the cost of digital identity for the public purse.
From today, we are a proud partner of the Safe Face Pledge. We are firm in the belief that our technology should keep people safe and work for everyone equally. So, we support the pledge. The Safe Face Pledge The Safe Face Pledge urges companies using artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure that facial recognition technology is not misused to bring harm to anybody, abused by law enforcement or employed to assist secret or discriminatory government activities. It requires its partners to show value for human life, dignity and rights, address harmful bias, facilitate transparency and embed it into their business practices. As a digital identity platform, AI plays a crucial role in what we do every day, and as always, we want our tech to only be used for good. We’re looking forward to fully supporting an ethical and transparent approach to facial recognition. Integrating the pledge with what we do Our involvement with the Safe Face Pledge will ensure that we remain true to our principles. It will keep us actively focused on offering a safe and secure way to prove identity. Robin Tombs, our founder and CEO, says: “This pledge is an important way for us to explain to individuals that Yoti has been designed from the ground up to protect their privacy and any technology we develop is designed to be used for positive intent. Our facial recognition applications are designed to make life easier. If you want to buy an age-restricted good at a self-checkout you can choose to use Yoti’s age estimation technology. It estimates your age using a photo of you and then deletes it directly afterwards. Yoti’s age verification via the Yoti app lets you share just your age to buy goods at a supermarket self-checkout. The setup takes just a few minutes; you link your facial biometrics to your phone and validate them against your ID. When you’re at a checkout, you scan a QR code and take a photo of yourself to prove your age. The system has been configured so that data is not indexed. It’s not possible for us to know what any individual is doing in their daily lives and we cannot sell on individuals’ personal data. Our business model is to charge organisations and governments for checks. Yoti is ISAE 3000 (SOC 2), Type 1 certified for its technical and organisational security processes.” We are pleased to support the Safe Face Pledge and continue making everyday life safer and simpler for everyone. We’ll be posting lots more about this in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out.
Yesterday the FCA revealed the next round of successful firms in its regulatory sandbox. We’re proud and excited to say that Yoti is one of those companies, along with Barclays, Nationwide, First Direct and Solidi, to name a few. The FCA Sandbox allows firms to test innovative products, services or business models in a live market environment, while ensuring appropriate protections are in place. It’s a fantastic way to encourage innovation in financial services. Yoti’s involvement in the sandbox We will be using the sandbox to test consumer’s appetite for our innovative form of KYC, which lets people prove their identity via our digital identity app. Individuals can prove their identity in seconds without having to rely on paper documents, and financial services companies can benefit from fast and accurate KYC, as well as save time and money when verifying the identities of their customers. Every Yoti account is linked to a government-issued identity document and personal biometrics so businesses can be confident the details shared with them are real. When an individual shares their information using Yoti, they see which identity details are being requested and give their consent to share them. They also receive a digital receipt so they can easily keep track of who they have shared details with. Some businesses still believe they need to see an actual image of the identity document to be compliant. We want to demonstrate a data minimisation approach to KYC, encouraging firms to only request the details they actually need from their customers, which is both compliant and better for individuals. If you’d like to know more about our involvement with the FCA Sandbox, please get in touch.
At Yoti, we’re committed to using our identity checking system as a force for good. We’re a B Corporation with a set of principles to guide us and a Guardian Council of respected and influential individuals to hold us to account. We’ve also made our platform free-of-charge for individuals and charities to use. We know that to really understand how our platform might be put to use to help solve local and global problems, we need to work with experts. So in February this year, we held a hack event to explore the challenges charities face checking ID and see how we might be able to help. The NSPCC hack Lizzie and Jen from NSPCC arrived at the hack with a very specific challenge. NSPCC’s Childline had partnered with the Internet Watch Foundation to provide a route for young people to report for removal sexually explicit images of themselves on the internet. However, for the IWF to remove the image, you first need to prove you’re under 18. Back then, that involved asking the young person to send a scan of their passport, which they worried put people off submitting the removal request. Through the hack week, Lizzie and Jen worked with graduate developers from our partners, the Founders and Coders bootcamp, to thrash-out a basic design for an app to enable young people to prove their age and complete the removal request form in a smooth, anonymous online flow. They pitched their idea to a panel of Yoti staff and founders, who are passionate about online safety for children. They were instantly taken with the potential of the idea, and awarded a prize of a month of developer time to build the idea to a working prototype. We were thrilled when, a month of development and some user-testing later, NSPCC said they’d like to go live with a fully functioning version of the app. The pilot app is now live. Young people can use the tool on desktop computers and on their mobile phones to quickly and simply prove they’re under 18 years old and submit a request to remove the image that’s causing them distress. Positive collaboration We were so happy to help NSPCC with this impactful use case, and look forward to completing more projects like this. If you’re a charity with challenges in checking people’s ID, please get in touch.