Feeds

Civil liberty group pans EU biometrics plans

Commerce ahead of privacy

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Civil liberties groups have condemned an EU study on the possible social impact of biometric technologies – including fingerprint, iris and face recognition – as "technologically determinist" and say it puts economics and profit above liberties and privacy.

The report (pdf) from the European Union's joint research centre (JRC) describes biometrics as "inevitable and necessary". The report concludes that if biometrics is going to be the technology du jour, Europe might as well be at the forefront of the field, and get stuck in selling the stuff as quickly as possible, according to civil liberties campaigners, Statewatch.

Statewatch points to "grave reservations" held by experts in the field. For example, professor of law at Brussels University, Paul de Hert, notes that the technology systems are not properly understood. He wrote: "There are no empirical data about the current performance of the existing systems as there are no precise data about why new systems and facilities are needed".

Julian Ashbourn, chairman of the International Biometric Foundation, is also unconvinced. He warns that in implementing cross-border biometrics, nations will lose control of the data held on their citizens: "The provisions of national data protection acts become meaningless when data crosses national borders. Furthermore, the ability of the individual to challenge incorrect assumptions with respect to their own data is highly questionable," he writes.

So in the face of these kind of questions, how does the JRC explain its wholehearted support of implementing biometrics? Well, it's a great business opportunity. Once everyone is used to being fingerprinted for their passports, they'll be happy to be fingerprinted for everything: "Once the public becomes accustomed to using biometrics at the borders, their use in commercial applications will follow".

Implementation of biometric passports could create "a vibrant European industry sector," the report says, calling on governments to kickstart a "competitive supply market".

The report is not without more cautionary notes, however. It recognises that the technology does have its limitations, and makes reference to several areas where more research is needed, calling for large scale field trials, as information on how biometrics would work in a large population is "limited". ®

Related stories

Privacy 'Dark Ages' force activist rethink
Security and interop issues cause EU biometric passport delays
Brits voice fraud fears over high-tech voting
Select Committee criticises ID Cards Bill

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.