Biometrics Institute warns biometrics misuse could undermine public confidence
Following recent reports of facial recognition technology being misused, The Biometrics Institute is urging law enforcement agencies, border management agencies and governments to follow existing good practices to ensure responsible use of biometrics. If they fail to do so, the Institute warns that regulators may restrict usage and place an onus on the industry to ensure privacy protections.
Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology recently released a pair of reports about law enforcement use of biometric facial recognition, including the revelation that New York police have used sketches and digitally altered faces to generate matches.
International laws and standards for biometrics have yet to be developed, and the Biometrics Institute has taken on a role of issuing good practice guidelines to help organizations assess and implement responsible and ethical biometrics practices. Using biometrics without regard for these principles risks undermining public confidence in policing and counter-terrorism applications of the technology, according to the Institute’s announcement.
International member organizations of the Institute’s multi-stakeholder community have access to the recently updated Privacy Guidelines, Ethical Principles for Biometrics, Top Ten Vulnerability Questions, and the United Nations Compendium of Recommended Practices for the Responsible Use and Sharing of Biometrics in Counter-Terrorism. The latter guide is part of the Institute’s work with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and the Office of Counter-Terrorism (OCT).
“Biometric technology has the potential to aid and accelerate identification when used carefully by trained humans, following proper processes and using the technology in the way it was originally intended,” Biometrics Institute CEO Isabelle Moeller says. “But it is vital that anyone using biometrics to identify individuals follows responsible and ethical guidelines to avoid people suffering from the consequences of the technology not being managed properly.”
“In cross-border terrorist investigations for example, strict protocols must be followed,” Moeller adds. “The contextual assessment of biometric ‘hits’ is critical. Governments need to liaise effectively and confidentially so that any potential suspect is interviewed discreetly and can potentially be eliminated from the enquiry immediately – without undue publicity. Tight controls must be exercised and human rights and the right to appeal must be respected, as stressed in the United Nations compendium.”