US Customs and Border Protection officer

A UK company that specialises in face-scanning is helping the US control its borders

A UK company has become the first firm from outside the United States to provide technology-based security for the US Department of Homeland Security.

iProov, which graduated from Microsoft’s Accelerator programme and uses the Azure cloud platform, has won a contract for its biometric facial verification to be used to identify people at some of America’s unmanned ports.

The company’s technology will help US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) quickly, accurately and reliably check travellers as they pass through border crossings.

Andrew Bud, iProov’s Founder and Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted that iProov has been selected by the US Department of Homeland Security to enhance the way in which it processes people through US borders.

“Advances in machine learning and AI have enabled a revolution in facial biometrics in the past few years and we’re now seeing more and more cases of governments and banks turning to self-service, spoof-resilient face verification as the biometric of choice to both increase security and ensure ease of use.”

More than 112 million people enter the US every year, and over one million attempt to pass through its borders each day.

iProov’s technology will ease the pressure on the CBP by letting travellers use their mobile phone to scan their face before they get to the border. A pattern of coloured light is projected onto the person’s face while the device records a short video. This is then cross-referenced with pre-existing photographs on documents held by public bodies, such as a passport or driving licence, to determine whether the person is who he or she says they are.

The transmission and verification of the faces is handled by Azure, Microsoft’s secure and flexible cloud platform.

The Statue of Liberty in New York

More than 112 million people enter the US every year

Crucially, iProov is able to detect “spoofs” – when people use a photo, screen image or doctored video of someone else to fool a system into believing they are that person.

Its solution is already used by banks and governments around the world to ensure new and returning users are genuine and guard against fraudulent attempts to gain access to personal data or use a stolen identity.

Liam Fox, Secretary of State for the UK Department for International Trade, said the contract was “one example of our shared economic and security ties” with the US.