Biometrics are physical identifying characteristics of a person. The most common type is fingerprints. This also includes iris prints, voice prints, and DNA. Most of my clients need to get biometrics taken during their time with me. I send off fingerprints to the FBI regularly to check for criminal records. The Department of Homeland Security also requires most applicants to submit their biometrics for identification purposes.
While biometrics are very useful, I have serious concerns about privacy in the future. DHS and the FBI now share data. The FBI and DHS also have data sharing agreements with many countries. Information on millions of people is being put in the system. Without proper safeguards, this could lead to a loss of privacy and misuse of information. This will also increase the risk of errors. Interestingly, 3600 American citizens have been mistakenly caught up in the Secure Communities program (a program that requires local law enforcement agencies to share fingerprint information with DHS and used to identify immigrants that may be deportable).
The pasted report below has some interesting recommendations to protect biometrics and our privacy. I especially agree with the suggestion to segregate data whenever appropriate and delete data as soon as its use has been served.
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