Blessed Are Those Who Hunger
Dermot Desmond is known for his aversion to publicity. By any standard his accumulated wealth, which is estimated at in excess of $2.2 billion is staggering. His interests span the gambit of media companies, investment firms, hotels, a bank, software companies, diamond mines and a football club.
Daon is a biometrics security company founded by Dermot in 1990. “Daon is an innovator in developing biometric authentication and identify solutions worldwide.” Areas of expertise include, “Banking, Healthcare, Telecos, Gaming and Aviation.” The Daon website continues, “…meeting the needs of governments and commercial organisations…has secured hundreds of millions of identities in the US, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, EU and Mexico.”
Daon’s Headquarters nestle in downtown Reston, Virginia. A convenient 17 minute drive to Langley, 28 minutes to the Pentagon and 32 minutes to Washington DC. The leadership in Reston are a highly qualified group of software inventors, engineers, finance people and human resources professionals.
Two people caught my eye. One guy is an ex- Marine Corp Tank Commander and Senior Software Engineer, another previously worked as the Chief Technology Officer for the Transportation Authority and Chief Operations Officer, of US Customs and Border Protection, responsible for 60,000 staff.
Daon reports the Pandemic has seen an acceleration of the biometric business. Particularly in demand are companies that authenticate or onboard customers remotely using biometric technology. Banks, insurance companies, mobile phone companies, hotels, universities and airports.
Experian are a good example.They are a multinational consumer credit company with assets of $8.8bn. Daon provide Experian access to their market leading IdentityX authentication platform. Experian customers can then use voice, fingerprint or face recognition to access the credit system. Experian have commercial relationships with Banks across the globe and in the UK.
Daon have a wide and growing market share including Visa, MasterCard and the American Airport Authority.
In June of 2020 the President of Anderson University announced that Daon’s IdentityX Covid Tracker would be used by the University of Anderson. The University’s President has an interesting profile. He held leadership roles in the FBI and Transport Security Administration. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, he was placed in charge of the FBI’s counterterrorism programme, eventually becoming the FBI’s Executive Assistant Director for national security.
Having set the scene, let’s go back to an article in The Sunday Times on 7th January 2007
“The contract for the Biometric Matching System, (BMS) a key part of Europe’s new centralised Visa system was awarded before Christmas to a consortium which includes, Management Consultants; Accenture, Sagem Défense Sécurité, part of the huge Safran, French Defence Group, (Safron are 30.5% owned by the French Government) and Daon…
It is thought Daon will provide the software to manage the BMS for the fingerprints of 70 million Visa applicants.”
The budget for the project was estimated at €157m.
Accenture had previous experience in the security field having designed and implemented the US Department of Homeland Security, Smart Border Project in 2004.
Fast forward now to India in 2009.
After the Kargil War between India and Pakistan a decision was taken by the Indian Government to introduce a national biometric identity programme.The Kargil War Review identified the lack of ID Cards in the border area, between India and Pakistan, as a particular concern. A huge proportion of the population were undocumented, undermining the management of security, immigration and benefit fraud.
Known as the Aadhaar Programme, the Indian Government’s scheme is the world’s largest ever biometric database involving 1.2 billion citizens. Initially voluntary, it became mandatory for obtaining state services (food and fuel rations, benefits, pensions for paying taxes, opening a bank account even buying a mobile phone.)
Government figures indicate that 800 million people in India rely on ration cards for food.The majority of whom live in poverty.The Aadhaar Programme meant the poorest in India were required to supply fingerprint and eye scans to remain eligible for food.
Aadhaar has been mired in legal challenges in the Indian Supreme Court for years and has been exposed in the UK’s media. The poorest and most isolated sections of Indian society have suffered immeasurable harm.
Amnesty International are a vocal critic. In 2018 Amnesty highlighted the growing application of the Aadhaar Card as “obstructing access to fundamental rights.”
Denied/delayed payments of benefits and pensions and in some cases starvation due to the failure of the system. Phishing of details, privacy intrusions are common.
Difficulty in registering, fingerprints not recognised by the system. Internet failure, lack of electricity, defective equipment and a myriad of other reasons have created a nightmare for the most vulnerable in India.
Pensioners and the sick often trek for miles to the Aadhaar Benefit Office to return home penniless after the system failed to recognise a fingerprint.
Indian software entrepreneur and billionaire Nandan Nilekanis led the $1.6bn project. In July 2010, he announced the identities of eight companies who would collaborate and implement the controversial biometric system.
A) Accenture with Dermot Desmond’s Daon and an Indian company called Mindtree.
B) US Company, L-1 Solutions with HP.
A board member of L-1 Solutions was a guy called George Tenent.Tenent had been the Director of the CIA and allegedly told President GW Bush the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq was a ‘Slam Dunk.” Mr Tenent resigned from office in the wake of allegations of torture of detainees and waterboarding.
An L-1 Solutions promotional document for the project stated,
“L-1 provides highly specialised government consulting services…More than 1,000 employees, most holding top security clearences.” Investigative journalist Tim Shorrock added, “Tenent sits on the board of L-1 Solutions. It is a major supplier of biometric software to monitor insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. L-1s software can store billions of fingerprints and facial characteristics.”
(To further muddy the waters, MongoDB a private company that creates databases used for high volume data storage were employed on the Aadhaar Project.
In 2012 MangoDB received funding from a company called, In-Q-Tel.
In-Q-Tel are the CIA’s Venture Capital wing. Ex CIA Director George Tenent was on the Board of In-Q-Tel.)
C) Morpho with Indian company Mahindra Satyam, an Indian IT Company. Mahindra have been surrounded in financial scandal. It’s ex Chairman was jailed for seven years in 2015 for embezzlement.
Morpho, a subsidiary of the French Defence Group, Safron. (Safron are 30.5% owned by the French government.) Another Safron company Sagem Défense had been hired with Daon and Accenture in the EU BMS Project in 2006.
India’s desire to modernise and progress exposed it’s population to a technically advanced but morally comprised mindset.
I’m not blaming anyone or suggesting Mr Desmond or anybody at Daon did anything wrong.
Just reporting the facts.
Surely it’s not unfair to ask Celtic’s majority shareholder to clarify his and Daon’s role in this matter?
I’ve asked Mahe & BMCUWPS to link some of the sources that were used to complete this article. Some of the stories are appalling.
Please take time to read one or two.
They convey this unfolding, real-time tragedy better than I can.
“A football club will be formed for the maintenance of the dinner tables of our needy children.”
St Mary’s Hall, Calton, November 1887.