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Biometrics Institute calls for common definitions, use of industry terminology

Categories Biometrics News  |  Trade Notes
Biometrics Institute calls for common definitions, use of industry terminology

Continued uses of biometrics terminology in inaccurate or contradictory ways has prompted the Biometrics Institute to call for a common approach to biometrics based on shared definitions and consistent language. The Institute has also begun creating resources to address the issue.

Biometric Institute Chief Executive Isabelle Moeller told Biometric Update in an email that while the terms were not contentious, “what we have found is that there are parts of the biometric industry that offer different definitions for the same terms e.g. authentication and verification which are inconsistently applied. Whenever such a difference is drawn we have to clarify its meaning. As George Bernard Shaw famously said of England and the U.S. – they are: ‘two nations divided by a common language.’”

Clear explanations, she emphasizes, are critical to public trust.

Examples provided by the Institute highlight how meanings can change depending on the use of the term.

So far, the project has resulted in a webpage presenting ‘Types of Biometrics,’ which reviews modalities from the most common to the relatively obscure, graphics defining and explaining biometric verification and identification, and the Institute’s ‘Three Laws of Biometrics,’ inspired by Asimov’s ‘Three Laws of Robotics.’

The explanation of 1:1 and 1:n terms has been crafted over the course of a process dating back to 2019, according to Moeller, beginning with a discussion with the Biometrics Institute’s Academic and Innovation Group. The Privacy Expert Group, the Digital Identity Group, the Borders User Group, and the Future Direction Group each consulted on the project, along with other industry experts and privacy groups. The Technology Innovation Group finalized the proposal, and the Board of Directors commented and approved it for publication to solicit feedback from the broader community.

“All our good practice tools have a review cycle of 12 months when first launched and then a review to update them every two years to ensure they stay current,” Moeller adds.

“Using common terminology is at the very heart to address the challenges our community is facing,” explains Moeller in the announcement. “We therefore would like to ask the biometrics community to reference these tools and use the proposed terminology and also share the graphics for example in any presentations you deliver or on your own website.”

“Our experts and members have rigorously drafted, reviewed and finalised the content with input from diverse stakeholders and members such as from government, international organisations, academics, regulators and suppliers. As always, the Institute stands for providing a balanced view on biometrics and we are proud of what our community has achieved. Join us in our awareness campaign,” says Stephanie Schuckers, director and co-head of the Technology and Innovation Group at the Biometrics Institute.

The Biometrics Institute is working on explanations for physiological and behavioral biometrics, and hopes to finalize them in the second half of this year, and the Borders User Group is working on a list of frequently used terms in need of further explanation, Moeller says.

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