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Data privacy warning issued by Biometrics Institute over rushed development of COVID-19 solutions

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Cutting corners in the development of COVID-19 solutions in a hurry to push them onto the market could create a substantial risk to data privacy, according to a statement released by the Biometrics Institute.

Coming as the Institute prepares a review of its Privacy Guidelines for Biometrics, the new caution acknowledges the great change the world has undergone due to the pandemic and the necessity of deploying biometric solutions to counter this unprecedented situation.

“In workplaces, at borders, and in public places, biometrics have the potential to contribute to a modern approach to the global challenge,” the statement reads.

“The responsible use of the technology could also enable a contactless lifestyle and societal functionality to mitigate contamination risks.”

Moreover, biometrics could also improve how the health of individuals is managed once they enter crowded and potentially hazardous places like office buildings, shops, factories, airports, and stadiums.

“A biometrically-enabled digital health credential could get the world moving again.”

However, the Biometrics Institute also warns against the issues that can derive from improper implementation of these measures.

Risks to privacy would be at the forefront of this list, with individuals asked to give more and more of their biometric data to companies and governments.

“We need an informed discussion on how to protect health data, as well as public health,” said Biometrics Institute CEO Isabelle Moeller. “Proper policies and processes must be implemented before the technology is rolled out.”

According to the executive, COVID-19 has created potential new use cases of biometrics applications, such as video surveillance to trace people who have tested positive or interacted with individuals who have.

“Whether health protection trumps privacy protection is a new and controversial question for our age,” Moeller said.

“We hope the global community will continue to use our Three Laws of Biometrics to guide them in their implementations. This is a very timely moment for the update to our Privacy Guidelines,” she concluded.

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