Biometrics Institute finds privacy, data protection, legislation lead industry concerns in 2019

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Biometrics Institute finds privacy, data protection, legislation lead industry concerns in 2019

A significant increase in the use of biometrics in all sectors was noticed in 2019, however a higher concern was expressed regarding controversies around the technology’s use such as privacy, ethics and responsible use, says the State of Biometrics Report 2019 released by the Biometrics Institute. The report found that public opinion had a direct influence in where policy is heading with a number of U.S. cities limiting biometrics use on the public, however biometric technologies were still deployed for activities that raise ethical concerns, such as mass surveillance in China.

The report quotes 2018 findings by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which showed that facial recognition performance had improved 20 times in just four years. Facial recognition, however, is seen differently by the public, who is concerned about its capabilities and future deployments in relation to privacy, ethics, and data protection, and the private sector that has widely accepted it and is already working on different roll out strategies.

The Biometrics Institute Annual Survey found that privacy, data protection, ethics, and legislation are top concerns among its respondents who are both members and non-members. With almost twice as many respondents for its tenth annual survey, 44 percent said legislation is not strict enough, showing that industry experts don’t consider legislation a roadblock for innovation and investment in biometrics.

In fact, 74 percent named privacy as the main issue obstructing the market’s growth, alongside poor knowledge among decision makers (38 percent) and misinformation about biometrics (35 percent). More than half of respondents believe users’ informed consent has rarely been obtained in many use cases, and feel biometrics should not have been rolled out for social media (22 percent) and in school administration (22 percent).

Almost 40 percent of respondents, especial those located in Australia and New Zealand, believe biometric roll outs are spreading too fast for current legislation to be effective.

The member meeting held in Washington DC in September 2019 generated a number of fruitful, impartial discussions, continued by the institute’s annual Congress in London in October during Biometrics Week. The Institute also recently launched its Good Practice Framework.

During Congress and Showcase Australia industry experts and members together looked into identifying gaps and developing guiding documents to be understood by a large pool of readers, including the public. The goal for the new year is to pinpoint risks and mitigation strategies to help the public gain more trust in the technology.

The Biometrics Institute’s goal has been to emphasize the importance of best practices, which led it to release the Understanding Biometrics reference guide in 2018, and a compendium released by the United Nations that same year explaining biometrics practices in counter-terrorism. The Institute then released the seven Ethical Principles for Biometrics in March 2019, updated privacy guidelines and discussed how GDPR applies to biometrics. The Biometrics Institute has entered into agreements with ten international organizations such as UNICEF, The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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