Get ready for biometrics at work

It's coming soon, IT directors says

IT directors across Europe are bracing themselves for the introduction of biometric technology in the office. An Hitachi Data Systems' survey found that 65 per cent expect to see iris scanning and fingerprint recognition systems introduced in the near future. Nearly half, 44 per cent anticipating the technology being implemented within two years, and a very excitable five per cent expect deployment in the next six months.

Although 54 per cent expect staff would resist the introduction of technology, the same number felt it would be an acceptable security measure. However, just over a quarter said they were concerned that the technology could be abused.

Since many companies and buildings already have swipe card entry systems, the introduction of a biometrics based system is almost a moot question. After all, the privacy implications are not much different.

Whether you are associated with a number or a fingerprint, your movements are still recorded each time you go through a door. (We are assuming - dangerous, yes - that IT managers would also deploy robust encryption to protect the biometric data.)

Indeed, the building housing El Reg HQ itself, has numbered swipe cards allocated to each company. Going through the wrong door is a crime punishable by concierge. (This is less trivial than it sounds.)

But we digress.

Tony Reid, European director of storage solutions at Hitachi Data Systems, says the survey indicates a change in attitude towards biometrics, as the technology becomes more common.

"Of course, companies will still need to comply with various privacy and data protection regulations that govern how long personal information can be stored and what it can be used for - which presents a further IT challenge for many," he added.

However, the enthusiasm for the new tech is not without its limits. Well over half (58 per cent) of the respondents were concerned about the risk of ID theft from companies using and storing biometric data. Others (61 per cent) were concerned that staff could be locked out of the building by mistake.

Researchers quizzed 821 IT directors from 21 countries across the EMEA (Europe, Middle EAst and Africa) region for their views. ®

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