System Interoperability of Biometrics and Personal Detection Technologies

On 7 December 2009, International Biometric Group hosted the second meeting of the HIDE project Focus Group on System Interoperability of Biometrics and Personal Detection Technologies. Caroline Wardle addressed several issues relevant to the HIDE project in her presentation about the SAMURAI initiative. The most interesting part of the focus group dealt with dual-use issues.

Because all surveillance projects capture various types of personal information surveillance projects must consider privacy and data protection issues. In addition, surveillance projects raise complex issues about dual use——i.e., the idea that technology originally developed for civil applications may be appropriated for government or military uses. For instance, military funding in the United States is a primary driver for technological research, and thus, technologies developed for antiterrorism purposes are now finding broader applications in the commercial arena. When considering the ethical implications of dual uses of technology, then, the direction in which the development of technology moves becomes important. Focus group participants agreed that the movement of technology from military to civil applications is more ethically acceptable than when technology developed for civil applications is repurposed or appropriated for military use.

Sapna Capoor from AGNITIO, a company that provides “voice biometric solutions” for the public sector, provided several case studies and examples of recent uses of voice biometrics. Apparently Agnitio has a “voice database”, which is maintained by the Spanish police. She stated that

As voice technology continues to develop and becomes more widely deployed, standards and legal frameworks must be updated to accommodate unique aspects of the technology and how it impacts privacy

Philip Tresadern discussed the Mobio (Mobile Biometry) project that investigates the use of biometrics for securing private data that can be accessed through mobile devices.

Philip Statham’’s presentation focused on biometrics standards relating to security, usability, and privacy. He discussed work done by subcommittees ISO/IEC JTC1 37 on Biometrics and ISO/IEC JTC1 27 on IT Security Techniques and also provided links to several current reports and standards drafts. ISO recently created a new Privacy Steering Committee to lead new standards work on privacy. Statham also addressed the notion of renewable biometric references, a claimed solution to some common privacy concerns about biometrics. The key feature is anonymization of biometric data through translation to a renewable password. Such technology may not be suitable for 1:N applications, however, and more testing is needed to determine performance and error rates.

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