2021 Review – DDS Online

Digital Document Security – A Conference for Troubling Times

The role of physical and digital secure documents is coming under increased scrutiny as the world debates how they might be used to implement proof of health status. But, as explored in the recent Digital Document Security Conference, this is only one of the many issues facing the industry as secure documents transition from physical to digital and ultimately virtual formats.

Astrid Mitchell, CEO of conference organisers Reconnaissance, welcomed representatives from more than 75 organisations across 35 countries to the second Digital Document Security (DDS) Conference held online 30 -31 March. Her welcome captured the essence of DDS, which is to provide a forum that connects the communities at the interface between the physical, digital, and increasingly virtual, document security domains.

Ian Lancaster and Francis Tuffy, both from Reconnaissance, shared the keynote address providing context to the conference. Both speakers picked up on the inevitable current focus on identity management that link a person to their health status through secure documentation. Francis highlighted the resonance of the transition in the industry from physical to digital and virtual to what we are witnessing in the current public health crisis from physical certification of vaccinations towards virtual proof of immunity status.

The transition

The first session of the conference considered the transition from physical to digital secure documents through three different lenses. In the first of these, Paul Bastian from Bundesdruckerei (Germany), used the analogy of a physical wallet containing a range of identity related cards to explain the concept of self-sovereign identity (SSI) in that it is the wallet owner (and hopefully bearer) that can choose which card to use in any situation.

The second slot was co-presented by Adriana Ezpeleta and Franziska Muschik, both from Veridos (Germany). In their presentation they considered the benefits of document authentication with visible digital seals (VDS) and a database protected by a PKI infrastructure. It also touched on a possible replacement for this approach with alternatives, including a private blockchain.

The session’s closing presentation came from John Winchcombe – Reconnaissance’s cash and payments expert. John entertained the dematerialisation of cash in considering current central banks’ activity in the areas of ‘wholesale’ and ‘retail’ Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).

After a short break, Session 2 – Regulation, Standardisation and Cooperation, kicked off with Alan Hodgson, from his eponymously named consulting firm, who explained his role in convening and running technical committees on international standards. His message was that standards will have impact as long as they address the needs of the various stakeholders involved. In the case of identity related secure documents, the interested parties are the consumers (it’s their IDs we’re using after all), governments and standards bodies, and industry – to allow companies to trade across borders. 

Paper 2 in the session saw Franz Brudl, from the Austrian state printer ÖeSD, summarising the main content of the future ISO standard 18013-5 surrounding mobile driving licences (mDL). Franz then shone a light on the potential role that mDLs might play as a door-opener for other mobile credentials.  Thomas Schalldach’s (Thales, France) presentation on using digital documents with unmanned relying party systems shared how latest security mechanisms can address the growing challenges of an open and global digital document ecosystem.

The session finale was Jean-Philippe Egger’s (SICPA, Switzerland) exploration of the role for security printers in the digital age. In response to the shift to secure digital documents, he envisions a need for universal and independent verification of both paper and digital certificates. Jean-Philippe sees  a role for security printers in this transformation, taking advantage of mobile technology to change the way that trusted and private information is shared and verified.

Panel discussion

The panel discussion at the end of Day 1 brought together Tony Poole (AJW/Secure Doc Alliance), Marco Aloe  (SICPA), David Rutnam  (IATA), Husayn Kassai  (Onfido) and Francis Tuffy, under the chair of Ian Lancaster. The topic for the discussion ‘Vaccination certificates and immunity passports’ echoed the themes of Reconnaissance’s White Paper of the same title.

The panellists used their opening remarks to recount the technical readiness of world governments to move forward on certification and health status proof programmes. The image that developed was a fractured one, with countries and blocs proceeding with their own approaches with little attempt at coordination. Despite efforts to limit questions to purely technical considerations it was inevitable that several questions from the audience explored how technical solutions from the ID and secure document industry might address issues of inclusion and morality.

The physical-digital interface

Nuno Gonçalves from INCM –(the Portuguese Mint and Official Printing Office) got Day 2 off to a flying start, exploring new trends in the mixing of the physical and digital worlds using security and facial recognition.

Jan Thiele from Prismade Labs (Germany) continued the session theme of the physical-digital interface, presenting a new printed electronic feature working in tandem with a smartphone. The feature embeds a fully printed keyboard in the document that enables the user to self-authenticate and enter a PIN code. Jan’s demonstration of the technology displayed its ability to prevent optical copies and provide proof of presence.

Marc Schnieper, from private non-profit research and technology organisation CSEM (Switzerland), considered three approaches to making reading security labels on a smartphone more secure. First, he looked at integrating a security feature at the packaging fabrication stage; second, using a QR code constructed from a DOVID-like structure; and finally, a new way to use fluorescent inks to hide a QR code.

Anton Pfeifer from the Institute Industrial IT, Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe (Germany) concluded the session with his presentation describing passive coding methods to detect the authenticity of physical documents.

Dr Matthias Schwan (Bundesdruckerei, Germany), opening the session on ‘Implementation – Putting Theory into Practice’, used his presentation on mobile devices as secure and convenient carriers on eID documents to give real world examples of protecting against the threat of cloning.

 Sina Grebrodt (Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions, Switzerland) recounted the experiences of students at the Art Centre, Pasadena (USA) from a project started in 2019 to a current description of a future banknote that encompasses a dual physical and digital hybrid and that can be activated and deactivated on demand.

It is widely accepted that Estonia is amongst the most advanced eGovernment states in Europe, so it made sense that Annika Kluge, from the Estonia Information System Authority, should share the country’s 18 years’ experience of securing electronic documents. In the current trend toward remote working, Annika warns against taking short-term measures which may have unintended long-term consequences.

The final presentation of the final session came from a source not usually associated with document security – Zhihu Li from the State Grid Corporation of China, the largest utility company in the world. Zhihu’s presentation on digital currency and blockchain gave a rare insight into that country’s research efforts in secure documentation.

 Zhihu’s presentation stimulated several questions during the Q&A session at the end of Session 4, including anti-blockchain algorithms and whether national blockchains might undermine many of the strengths of blockchains, such as privacy and decentralisation of transactions.

The panel discussion that signalled the end of Day 2, and the conference, brought together Mark Pic (SURYS), Annika Kluge (Estonia Information System Authority), Narumi Pereira Lima (Brazilian Federal Police) and Ian Lancaster – all under the moderation of Serge Wsevolojskoy of Reconnaissance.

Amongst the lively debate on security and protection issues as secure documents migrate from physical to digital, Marc gave a fantastic demonstration of real-time deep fake video manipulation.  In front of the online conference audience, he used the face of Serge Wsevolojskoy (panel moderator) to ‘speak’ his opening remarks. It wasn’t perfect, but it was sufficiently good to pass casual inspection!

The conference concluded with the announcement from Ian Lancaster that Reconnaissance has taken the decision to merge the Optical Document Security Conference and the Digital Document Security Conference. The new event will be the Optical and Digital Document Security Conference (ODDS), and it will be described as the technical conference for physical, digital and virtual document security.

This new-look event is scheduled for 17-19 January 2022 in Vienna, Austria. See video below.

The Vaccination Certificate and Immunity Passport White Paper is now available, free of charge, via this link.

The whole conference was a great experience, being part of the DDS conference was really a wonderful experience.


Apart from the content of the sessions, I would like to remark the good organisation of the event (audio & video connections, quality of signal, presentations available to download…)

Banco de España

Quick answers by the organiser when I had questions; the Software that was used for the presentations was good.

Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH


Advanced Track & Trace




Alan Hodgson Consulting

United Kingdom

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs And Trade


Australian Passport Office


Banco de España


Banco de México


Bank Al-Maghrib


Bank of Estonia


Banknote Corporation Of America


Border Police Department, Republic of Moldova




Carabineros de Chile


Centre for Document Personalization


CreatQoo Technology Pte Ltd




Danish National ID-Centre


Department of Home Affairs


Deutsche Bundesbank


Document Security Alliance


Estonia Information System Authority


European Central Bank


Federal Office of Police (Fedpol)


Finnish Immigration Service


German Federal Criminal Police Office


GET Group


Health Sciences Authority, Singapore


HM Passport Office

United Kingdom

Imprensa Nacional-Casa da Moeda


inIT- Institute Industrial IT


Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato


Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions



Russian Federation

Lahnpaper GmbH




Lighthouse Communications


LK Forensic Competencies


Luminescence SunChemical Security


Ministry of Civil Affairs

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ministry of Interior Croatia


Ministry of Works & Transport


National Bank of Moldova


National Institute of Criminalistics, Federal Police Department

United Kingdom

National Printing Bureau, Japan


Oak RIdge National Laboratory


OpSec Security Group

United Kingdom

Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH


OVD Kinegram AG


Pakistan Revenue Authority


Polygraph Combine “Ukraina”


Population and Immigration Authority


Prismade Labs


Reconnaissance International

United Kingdom

Royal Netherlands Marechausee – ECID


Sertracen Group




State Grid Corporation of China


Swiss National Bank




Tokushu Tokai Paper Co.


US Department of State




I have now experienced both physical and virtual Reconnaissance events as a speaker and am equally excited. The events are extremely well organized and provide an incredible setting to present identity management solutions and discuss them with selected experts from government, industry and academia.

Österreichische Staatsdruckerei GmbH


Schedule is BST time (UTC+1)
Hover on the presentation title or speaker to see if more information is available.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

11:00 – Conference Welcome

Session 1 – The Transition


Keynote: The Digital Document Landscape

Ian Lancaster

Reconnaissance (UK)

Francis Tuffy

Reconnaissance (UK)


Self-Sovereign Identity – Initial Trust for Digital Documents

Paul Bastian

Bundesdruckerei (Germany)


Keep the world moving with eGovernment Solutions

Adriana Ezpeleta

Veridos (Germany)

Franziska Muschik

Veridos (Germany)


Digital Currency: from physical to digital cash

John Winchcombe

Reconnaissance (UK)

12:20 Session Q&A
12:45 Break

Session 2 – Regulation, Standardisation and Cooperation


Standards: Overview of Role and Function

Alan Hodgson

Alan Hodgson Consulting (UK)


How ISO 18013/5 will ensure a smooth ride for everyone

Franz Brudl

Österreichische Staatsdruckerei (Austria)


Usage of digital documents with unmanned relying party systems

Thomas Schalldach

Thales (France)


Independent and Lifelong Verification of Paper and Digital Value Documents : A role for security printers in the digital age

Jean-Philippe Egger

SICPA (Switzerland)

14:00 Session Q&A
14:25 Break
14:40 Panel Discussion: Vaccination certificates and immunity passports: ensuring their security

What is the path that will transform the millions of test and immunity records that are being issued at a national level into a globally recognised immunity passport? How will we be sure that they are accurate and secure?

An international group of experts will offer practical insights into the opportunities and pitfalls that lie ahead during the roll out of health status documentation.

Ian Lancaster
– Reconnaissance International – Chair
Tony Poole – AJW / Secure Doc Alliance
Marco Aloe – SICPA
Francis Tuffy – Reconnaissance International
David Rutnam – IATA
Husayn Kassai – Onfido


15:30 End of  Day 1

Wednesday 31 March 2021

11:00 – Conference Welcome Day 2

Session 3 – The Physical-Digital Interface


How to link digital and physical worlds using faces

Nuno Gonçalves

INCM - Portuguese Mint and Official Printing Office (Portugal)


Printed Smart Key – a new multi-factor approach for self-authentication on smartphones

Jan Thiele

Prismade Labs GmbH (Germany)


Secured smartphone readable features

Marc Schnieper

CSEM (Switzerland)


Digital Print Tag – Authentication Method based on Spectral Representations of Commercially Available Printing Techniques

Anton Pfeifer

inIT - Institute Industrial IT, Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe (Germany)

12:05 Session Q&A
12:30 Break

Session 4 – Implementation – putting Theory into Practice


Mobile devices as secure and convenient carriers for eID documents

Dr. Matthias Schwan

Bundesdruckerei (Germany)


User-based Deactivation and Activation of Banknotes

Sina Grebrodt

Koenig & Bauer Banknote Solutions (Switzerland)


Estonian e-document system through crises

Annika Kluge

Estonia Information System Authority (Estonia)


Digital Currency and Blockchain

Zhihu LI

State Grid Corporation (China)

14:00 Session Q&A
14:25 Break
14:40 Panel Discussion: Security & Protection: from physical to digital

The secured document sector – covering everything from banknotes to passports – has gained 1000 years’ experience in protecting, authenticating and examining these documents, leading to very low levels of fraud. The digital sector, conversely, is subject to hacking attacks and other security breaches. How can the latter adapt and apply the experience of the former?

Serge Wsevolojskoy – Reconnaissance International – Chair
Michael Edwards – Veridos
Mark Pic – SURYS
Annika Kluge – Estonia Information System Authority
Ian Lancaster – Recconnaissance International
Narumi Pereira Lima – Brazilian Federal Police

15:30 Conference Closing

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