Perspectives of Biometrics in the Activities of State Agencies


29 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 2 χρόνια και 11 μήνες)

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Perspectives of Biometrics in the Activities of
State Agencies

Highlights of Symposium Paper

by K. Krassowski & I. Sołtyszewski

Bratislava, September 2007


the basics

New global threats of the post Sept

world require prompt
response from the national governments and international

Biometrics have been highly publicized new tool enabling such a
response, utilized for both border/human traffic control and
personal identification purposes.

Biometrics are somewhat fashionable now, while still being quite
a new entrant to the identification methods market

appropriate attention needs to be paid in order to evaluate and
mitigate all the risks and consequences that may follow
widespread application of biometrics in the State activities ( incl.
criminal justice system )


practical application

Definetly the no. 1 application of biometrics in the State
controlled areas is the biometric passport.

In Poland since August 2006 all the new passports issued to
the citizens are biometric ones

the data stored in those
passports is however limited to the digital image of the
holder's face ( no fingerprint and/or iris image ). Those
passports are meeting the ICAO standards for MRTD's

Machine Readable Travel Documents.

The official justification of introduction of biometric data
into the passports is crime prevention ( identity theft and
false documents ) and compliance with the EU requirements,
namely Council Regulation EC 2252/2004


practical application

Apart from passports, various EU Member States have been
recently experimenting with automated border control

major trials in EU's intercontinental hubs like
Schiphol, Frankfurt and Heathrow.

Of course also one of the most publicized EU initiatives

Schengen Information System Phase II, Visa Information
System and EURODAC are to large extent dependant on the
biometric data that is already or will be in future, stored in
their databases.


yesterday and today

Historicaly speaking, biometrics is a practical science having it's
roots in XIXth century, which considers basic rules of
changeability of individual features within the population ( results
are evaluated by application of mathematical statistics ).

Today biometrics have gained the new dimension and meaning
within the funcional applications of sophisticated IT systems.

At present biometrics should be defined and evaluated on case
case basis, through the practical applications of technologies,
as many consequences of their utilization are directly dependant
on the actual technology standing behind ( e.g. does given
application in a given case result in more or less security, better or
worst personal privacy )

Pillars of biometric wisdom

The EU report EUR
establishes so called pillars of biometric wisdom:



every human being has the same characteristics like iris, face,


for each person those characteristics are unique


those characteristics remain largery unchanged thoughouth
the life cycle


they can be collected in reasonably easy manner


the degeree of accuracy of identification is relatively high


public support needs to be secured

Resistance to circumvention

new systems have to be harder to
circumvent than the existing ones

Those can be taken as the reference point when considering practical
consequences of application of biometrics in the various State related

The critical issues of application

The critical issues of application of biometrics for State activities are:

End user perception

initial fascination in biometrics evolves now
into more objective approach and critical consideration of negative

no mass acceptance as of now;


the real challenge is how to improve security of
individuals while maintaining the security of the biometric data and
systems themselves;

Safety and medical issues

direct or undirect health risk connected
with the application of biometrics are the key public concern and are
under investigation;

Legal and regulatory aspects

privacy rights, personal data
protection, IPR are the leading concerns


the key to successful development of biometrics and
winning public trust.

Things to do

Wide application of biometrics for identification purposes both in
border control and criminal justice system is lacking proper
reflection regarding important aspects concerning overall
credibility of the opinions presented by experts on the definitive (
positive or negative ) identification achieved.

The examples of fundamental factors that need careful evaluation
by the criminalistic science include:

Reliability of particular biometric data itself;

Reliability of IT systems and applications that are used for data
storage, evaluation and matching;

Security of the IT systems and applications, including
transmission networks ( wired & wireless );

Human factor aspect of biometric data collection, storage,
evaluation and access ( errors/conscious actions )

Final thoughts

The biometrics indeed seem to have a bright future in
the State
related applications.

Still, we are just in the initial phase of assessing the
weak points of this new prodigy of identification and
negative consequences of it's introduction.

It is safe to say that over the next couple of years we
will be kept busy evaluating this topic

which is not
bad at all, now is it ?