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Laurie Clarke

Reporter

Facial verification tech in NHS app could pave way for immunity passports

The NHS app now incorporates facial verification technology from the biometrics company iProov to verify the identity of new sign-ups. The company says the technology integration could become the blueprint for immunity passports.

iProov’s technology will be used to verify users signing up to the NHS app by scanning their face and matching it to pictures on official documents. The app, which is separate to the government’s contact-tracing app, enables people to make GP appointments, access medical records and order repeat prescriptions from their smartphone.

The new integration allows users to bypass the manual registration process, which involves uploading documents for health officials to check.

iProov’s technology is also integrated into the EU Exit Settlement Scheme app. The company believes that its status as the only biometric authentication provider with an existing contract with the UK government stands it in good stead to become a provider of immunity passports should the government choose to go down that route.

In theory, immunity passports could present a means of proving that someone had already contracted Covid-19 and was therefore immune to the virus. However, it’s still not completely certain that being infected with Covid-19 once entirely eliminates your chance of contracting it again – meaning the idea is still on shaky scientific ground.

iProov’s assertion is likely to be ill-received by other companies vying to provide the government with the biometric identification technology for immunity passports. Onfido and Yoti are among the companies that have pitched the UK government about providing such technology.

An NHS Digital spokesperson said: “It is great that users of the NHS App and other products using NHS login technology can take advantage of facial recognition to securely and conveniently prove their identity without having to visit a GP surgery. For the avoidance of doubt, NHS Digital has not been commissioned to apply this technology to any other purposes beyond providing a secure login capability via mobile devices.”