Biometrics benefits individuals: expert
Alongside security benefits, biometrics can also make life easier for individuals, according to an expert in the field.
On Monday, Martin Walshe, the chairman of the European Biometrics Forum, told the inaugural EU Presidency Summit on Biometrics that the emerging technology can enhance the lives of citizens. He acknowledged, however, European concerns about data protection and privacy.
Speaking to ElectricNews.net, Walshe pointed to the increased convenience that is brought about by biometrics. Travellers can progress through border checkpoints much more quickly than others without recorded biometric information, he said, and data protection on computers using biometrics makes it more difficult to transfer passwords.
According to the American Biometric Consortium, biometrics are automated methods of recognising a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic. Among the features measured are the face, fingerprints, hand geometry iris, and voice.
The EU summit, which was hosted by the Irish Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in conjunction with the European Biometrics Forum and European Commission, aimed to formulate policy which promotes the use of biometrics in a way which enhances the lives of citizens.
Recent events in Europe and the United States have placed biometrics at the top of the agenda across the globe. At an EU level, specific proposals are being progressed in the areas of biometric passports and visas. Over the next six months, the United States will commence the roll-out of the US Visit system which will manage entry and exit into the United States using biometric travel documents.
Such moves have drawn the ire of civil liberties groups on both sides of the Atlantic. In March, human rights organisations from Europe, North America, Australia and Asia sent an open letter to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) railing against plans to create an international "identity register" that would force the inclusion of biometrics and controversial tracking tags in all passports by 2015.
Speaking on the issue of privacy, Walshe told the EU Summit that, "Europe is not a 'banana republic' where we have no laws or regulations. In fact we have extremely strong data protection laws thanks to people like Peter Hustinx and Joe Meade."
However, "he continued, "there is a perception in the media and beyond that the technology of biometrics is a technology that will breach citizens data protection rights by its mere existence. This of course is a fallacy. It is in fact abusive practices, misinformed deployments that will lead to abuses."
To coincide with the EU Summit, The European Biometrics Forum is also hosting a Biometric Technology Showcase at the Digital Depot. The latest biometric technologies from some of the leading European commercial organisations will be demonstrated, which will be open to the public at a later stage.