The meaningful, safe and reliable use of biometrics
This paper introduces the current results of the debates within the Netherlands Biometrics Forum (NBF) on the principles that lead to a meaningful safe and reliable use of biometrics. Biometrics is becoming an important element of our information society, but new technology is often initially used incorrectly. This is partly due to so-called fallacies of the wrong level. In practice, large-scale systems tend to work out differently compared with small-scale applications, thus presenting additional problems at that larger scale that should have been taken into account during design and development. That implies that the first major applications can confront us with worrying social risks for which effective solutions have yet to be found. This paper, therefore, proposes to explicitly use the concept of identity fraud (identity theft) as litmus test of any biometrics application. The point is made that excessive concern about privacy inadvertently exacerbates these social risks. It is made clear that the assessment criterion 'safety' implies the protection of privacy, but that this does not necessarily apply the other way round. Because current large-scale applications seem to have neglected major privacy and security risks, this paper is primarily meant to stimulate this debate.
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