Biometrics in the Consumer Space -Trust in What, Trust in Who?
6 November 2013, London - The Biometrics Institute, the independent and international impartial body for the biometrics sector will discuss the increase in consumer biometric applications with members and key stakeholders such as the Information Commissioner's Office more actively in the coming weeks and months. More awareness is required about the responsible use of biometrics to ensure a successful future for the industry.
Tesco's introduction of facial detection (not recognition) systems at its petrol forecourts (The Telegraph, 5 November 2013) is just another example of the public getting exposed to new technology without fully understanding what is happening. But who is asking the consumers what they really want?
"While Tesco is saying that currently images, pictures or personal data of customers are not being recorded or captured, there is a very small step from detection and categorisation to recognition", explains Isabelle Moeller, Chief Executive of the Biometrics Institute. "The main concern is that personal data could be collected without prior consent of the individual. The key privacy principle that must be observed is the principle of informed customer consent. "
There appears to be no mention of warnings to people who are scanned, no indication of the purpose for which that scanning is used or about how it is used in the future. If that is the case, then the people being scanned have not been giving their informed consent, a principle written into virtually all legislation and directives around the world.
"All privacy legislation around the world usually insist that customers are entitled to know that they are being scanned and for what purpose and they should also be given the opportunity to refuse if they have objections" she says. "The other key principle of privacy is function creep which is where a system is installed for one purpose but then allowed to creep into other uses. For example, if a face is scanned for the purposes of identifying a customer's gender at the time they are looking at an advert above the check out, they should know to what purpose that scan will be put in the future."
The recent Biometrics Institute Industry Survey 2013 is predicting the adoption of biometrics in everyday life as the next major development for the biometrics industry. This includes the use of biometrics on mobile phones, financial transactions or physical access control to a car or building. Is the industry talking up the idea of consumers wanting biometrics for increased convenience and security? Does the consumer understand how biometrics should be captured and stored and what their right to privacy is?
The Biometrics Institute will continue the debate and awareness raising campaign about the responsible use of biometrics. It will discuss questions such as where biometrics actually are fit for purpose and what happens to the biometric information? Who looks after it and at what point in time is it destroyed? After a person leaves a shop, school or a particular job? In other words, who manages the system and what do they do with that system and a person's biometric over time?
And just how much does the client, let's say a school or the parents in that school, really understand about biometrics and, especially, privacy?
Many lessons have been learnt in government applications of biometrics such as passports and border control systems. The Biometrics Institute provides a place for its members to share experiences and brings public and private sector together to promote best-practice.
The Biometrics Institute is holding several events such as the "Technology Showcase Australia" on the 26 November 2013 in Canberra including several talks on facial biometrics and "New developments in facial biometrics" on the 21 January 2013 in London. It is also looking at ways of how to engage with consumers to provide guidance about biometrics ensuring individuals have a better understanding of biometrics, their right to privacy and inform industry about what the consumer really wants.
The Biometrics Institute is the independent and impartial international forum for biometrics users and other interested parties. It has been established to promote the responsible use of biometrics technologies. The Biometrics Institute has offices in Australia and the UK.
For enquiries contact: