Biometrics Institute declares three laws for the responsible use of biometrics

Report identifies five key developments for the industry
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Biometrics Institute declares three laws for the responsible use of biometrics

The three laws of biometrics are policy comes first, process follows policy, and technology is guided by policy and process, says the Biometrics Institute as it opens its 2020 online Congress.

Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, the Three Laws of Biometrics were devised by Institute members to reinforce the fundamental principles of responsible and ethical biometrics use.

The first law stipulates that any use of biometrics be “proportionate, with basic human rights, ethics and privacy at its heart.” The second requires that safeguards ensuring rigorous review, fair operations and operator accountability. The third requires operators to know the algorithm and other technical aspects of the technology they are using, “and mitigate vulnerabilities, limitations and risks.” Together, they are meant to provide a checklist for implementations, and especially the order in which they are undertaken.

The Biometrics Institute has also launched its 2020 ‘State of Biometrics Report’ in the opening session of the Congress, building on the inaugural report last year. The report was led by the Institute’s Future Direction Group, and details five key developments from the past year, projecting their impact over the next. The five topics identified in the report are COVID-19, legislative controls, demographic differentials, awareness and public perceptions and digital identity.

The report is available to Institute members through its website.

“These two documents underpin the themes of this year’s Congress,” states Biometrics Institute Chief Executive Isabelle Moeller. “We want our members and everyone using biometric technology to ask with every application, ‘Just because we can, should we?’ – thoroughly assessing each use case and the impact on its users. We are calling on the biometrics community to ensure the technology continues to serve us responsibly and ethically, not exploit us. We hope that the Three Laws of Biometrics will be an easy reminder of the principles anyone operating in this space should hold.”

The flagship event, held in London each October, has been converted from a two-day event to eight interactive online sessions throughout the month for this year.

The Congress’ opening keynotes were delivered by European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) Deputy Director Kenneth Gantt. Following the presentations, a panel of experts including James Dipple Johnstone of the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, discussed the state of biometrics and the report.

Registrants for the remaining three days of the event will receive a recording of the first day’s sessions.

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