Networks and Security
What are the privacy implications in regards to biometric security devices, face
recognition, voice recognition, and matching databases, which compare biological data to
actual people? Do the benefits outweigh the individual privacy
This is a quickly growing area of security technology that uses biological
characteristics of the user to determine if they are authorized. Examples are thumbprint
scanners, iris or retinal scanners, voiceprint analyzers, and facial ge
devices that obtain a fairly small number of facial feature size/distance measures for
As with any security system it is never 100% reliable. The trick is to make it hard
enough so, no one can
hack into it.
e use of
biometric security devices has its
pros and cons just like everything else.
By using biometric security devices it will better help verify people, but should not be
used as a tool to identify them. There should be other security measures used
conjunction with the biometric device
to make sure that proper identification is acquired.
data that these
devices gather need to be properly safeguarded.
It is not like if your wallet was stolen and it had your card credits,
driver’s license and
social security card placed in it. Sure, someone could steal your identity with these items,
but in time you can cancel credit cards and restore your identity. Of course, no one wants
to go through this. With biometric devices a pa
rt of you is stored in a database, i.e
prints, voice, eye retina, or DNA. If this database was comprised how easy would
it be to
recover your identity?
You can not change your fingerprint
or DNA if it is stolen.
stated from one panelist at t
International Conference on Biometrics and Ethics
biometrics changes the relationship between individuals and government, because rather
than collecting changeable information about a person, such as a name or address, with
biometrics, the government
collects a permanent and unchangeable part of a person.
Errors have much greater implications than in the past (1).
There is legitimate public concern that biometric technology can be misused to invade
or violate personal privacy or other civil liber
ties. Some of the fears surrounding
biometric information include that it will be gathered without permission, knowledge, or
clearly defined reasons; used for a multitude of purposes other than the one for which it
was initially gathered (function creep);
disseminated without explicit permission; used to
help to create a complete picture about people for surveillance or social control purposes.
There are also concerns about tracking, which is real
time or near
of an individual, and pr
ofiling, where a person's past activities are reconstructed; both of
these would destroy a person's anonymity (
In my opinion I think we should use biometric devices, but not as the sole purpose of
identifying an individual. These methods should be u
se for verification and safeguarded
at the highest level possible.
International Conference on Biometrics and Ethics November 28
The Heritage Foundation