At its annual conference in Washington DC on March 26, the Biometric Institute, a multi-stakeholder community whose mission is to promote the responsible and ethical use of biometrics and biometric analytics, has released the Ethical Principles for Biometrics.
An idea first hatched at the Institute’s annual joint group meeting last October, the document compiles the ethical principles governing the use of biometrics for members and the wider community.
It was put together by a collaborative, diverse group of members, including the Biometric Institute’s Privacy Expert Group, privacy commissioners, biometrics experts, and government employees.
Chief executive Isabelle Moeller said that in the absence of joined-up international laws to protect human rights, everyone who operates in the field of biometrics should work according to seven principles.
These include identity, privacy, federal and state biometric legislation and face recognition technology, in the context of responsible use.
“Technology is moving so fast that laws and regulations are struggling to keep up. Without clear international legislation, businesses in the biometrics world are often faced with the dilemma, “Just because we can, should we?” she said in a news release.
“Our role is to guide our members in the responsible and ethical use of these rapidly developing technologies so they benefit, not disadvantage humans. We hope the whole biometrics community will follow the principles and promote them,” she added.
The seven principles are aimed at enabling members – and anyone operating in the biometrics industry – to show their commitment to addressing the ethical issues raised by new technology, and by biometrics in particular.
Terry Aulich, head of the Biometrics Institute’s Privacy Expert Group and former Australian senator and state government minister said, "Even if some laws do not prevent commercial or governmental bad behavior, our Ethical Principles ask our members to operate at a higher level of accountability.”
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines biometrics as automated recognition of individuals based on their biological and behavioral characteristics, which it says form distinguishing, repeatable features can be extracted for recognition.
Key stakeholders in biometrics including Microsoft, the Federal Trade Commission, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Center for Democracy discuss hot topics in biometrics at the annual conference.
According to the Biometrics Institute, the launch of the Ethical Principles comes off the back of a joint briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.
“Since 2017, the Biometrics Institute has been involved in a two-stage project with the United Nations to compile the Compendium of Recommended Practices for the Responsible Use and Sharing of Biometrics in Counter-Terrorism,” it said.
The compendium provides practical guidance on the implementation of biometric systems and is aimed to serve as a reference for member states.
It includes existing good practices in the field of biometrics and addresses how biometric systems should be developed and managed in accordance with human rights.