Home > Personal > Biometric Scanning And Your Privacy

Biometric Scanning And Your Privacy

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 25 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Biometrics Biometric Scanning Privacy

Look at the whorls on your index finger. Every fingerprint is almost entirely unique – that’s why they’ve been dusted for crime detection for more than a century. Technology is moving on. Biometric scanning is the process of checking a fingerprint, iris, or face pattern with a technological device. But what does the mass introduction of Biometrics mean for your privacy?

What is Biometric Scanning?

Biometric scanning is the process of ‘reading’ a physical feature such as fingerprint, iris, face, vein, or voice. When you present your fingerprint or iris, the biometric reader creates a digitised template which will be used to recognise you in the future. The template is stored, either in a central system, or on your card.

Where is Biometric Scanning Used?

Biometric scanning is already used in many workplaces, high-tech laptops, and on passports in some European countries. It is also being proposed for the new Identity Cards which could soon be compulsory in the UK.

Biometric scanners are currently used to register asylum seekers and monitor travellers passing through major airports. The UK and USA are in discussions about sharing their biometric information in the anti-terror campaign. In Europe, the sharing of information between police and immigration officials is being orchestrated. The Home Secretary recently remarked that the UK could not hope to improve its security systems by remaining inside a “bubble”, insisting that this sharing of personal biometric data is crucial to a safe future.

Is Biometric Scanning Foolproof?

Ever since a secondary school tested out a top-notch Biometrics system for dishing out school dinners, then declared it too slow, and worth another try in 12 months, biometric testing has been something of a laughing matter. Will it really be good enough for our national security?

The National Physical Laboratory carried out tests on behalf of the Home Office, which is looking for two methods (a primary and a back-up) to use on the new Identity Cards. The report indicated that minor factors such as a cut finger, poor light, bad positioning, watery eyes or contact lenses influence the success of scanning. 98% of fingerprint scans resulted in the successful acquisition of an image and 100% of facial scans produced a usable image. The report also showed that, once an image was produced, the number of false matches was quite high.

What Are The Risks To Your Privacy From Biometric Scanning?

In terms of privacy, the main concern with biometric scanning is the storage and handling of any data acquired by biometric systems.

Storing Your Biometric Data
The UK government does not have a reputation for handling information securely. It’s already tentatively proposed sharing biometric data from the National Identity Register with banks and supermarkets, and is in talks to give out more information to other countries, resulting in a lack of privacy. An ex-MI6 operative said that the National Identity Register is a “present” for terrorists – a fantastic target for misuse or destruction.

Using Your Biometric Data
The privacy concerns here are international. Although we’re protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, and by the Data Protection Act, other countries have different laws. Critics are already worried that the new biometric passports will be too easy to read, record, and pass on.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Bunny
    Re: Your Medical Records
    Your medical records are Sensitive Data and the GDPR Data Protection Act doesn't allow sharing without your specific consent. Also, the data…
    20 April 2019
  • Scott
    Re: Do They Have the Right to Use My Photo on Website?
    Our org is asking for a personal photo which they wish to use to have avatar created from Do we…
    17 April 2019
  • MissMystery
    Re: Do They Have the Right to Use My Photo on Website?
    What is the legal standing regarding an ex employer using images containing me as part of their…
    12 April 2019
  • anjohn
    Re: Do They Have the Right to Use My Photo on Website?
    I'm part of a volunteer group in my local area and my son, who started the group, puts photographs on…
    11 April 2019
  • Marie
    Re: Your Medical Records
    I recently requested my medical records from my local gp practise. The practise manager refused to give them to me if I did not reveal my…
    7 April 2019
  • Hgvdriver
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    I work for local council who recently fitted all trucks with cameras we were told that it was to protect us from false claims from the…
    31 March 2019
  • Corkey
    Re: Your Medical Records
    I recently had an ENT appointment as I am suffering from tinnitus, I am now being inundated with advertisements for Tinnitus, someone has…
    31 March 2019
  • I am the storm
    Re: Your Medical Records
    Have tried to change surgeries only to find that the new place appears to have "shredded" my application (according to the receptionist…
    30 March 2019
  • Olivia
    Re: Your Medical Records
    my med. docs have been shared between hospitals without my consent and state that I have calcification in my right lung possibly as a…
    26 March 2019
  • Jomesie8
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    Hi My employer has put cctv behind the bar and inside the social club I work at monitoring employees and customers as well the Secretary…
    25 March 2019