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Washington State tipplers could soon be verifying their age with hand biometrics

Washington State tipplers could soon be verifying their age with hand biometrics

A pilot project for biometric age verification in the U.S. state of Washington looks more likely after a meeting of regulators.

The state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board met this week to discuss a request from the community to add finger and palm prints to the list of identifiers accepted by the state.

The petitioner was not named by the board in the July 5 meeting. However an earlier story in the Washington State Standard said a partner with the law firm Stoel Rives is asking for related rules changes. The firm represents some food and beverage businesses.

(In a staff report on the topic made before the board, it appears that, as effective as biometrics can be in business and government operations, they are being collected by numerous agencies, a situation that could cause confusion for residents.)

Whatever happens, it will not happen too soon. First, board members said they are uncertain what the petitioner is requesting.

The board members noted that the person feels biometric scans would increase business flexibility and help modernize government operations. They also noted the use of mobile driver’s licenses for similar purposes in other states, and the possibility that using face biometrics for age verification could run up against existing state law.

They generally seemed interested in a pilot project with a liquor and cannabis license holder, but the state’s licensing department, which approves driver’s and other licenses, would have to sign off on a test.

And, of course, at least tentative privacy, transparency and bias policies would have to be in place for the pilot.

It is not known when the idea will return to the board’s agenda.

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