WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On September 24, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report entitled Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities. In IBIA's view, the NRC release statement, report summary, and subsequent negative press coverage create the inaccurate impression that biometrics is fundamentally flawed and not ready for general use.
To the contrary, experience over the past decade has shown that biometric technology significantly enhances the effectiveness of many identity-based systems and constitutes an important tool in protecting our borders, reducing entitlement fraud, enforcing our laws, securing networks and facilities and protecting personal information from unauthorized access.
The press release headline "Automated Biometric Recognition Technologies Inherently Fallible," has been seized on by the media and has generated the perception that biometrics are simply not ready for "prime time." The gist of the argument is the inherently "probabilistic" nature of biometric matches, which the report's press release and summary highlight as a key weakness of biometric systems.
The report is correct to say that the outcome of an automated match between two biometric records is based on similarity scores that represent "probabilistic" results. However, similar uncertainties exist in other automated identification mechanisms like PINs, passwords, or tokens that can be lost, stolen, guessed, hacked or loaned to another person. Probabilistic results are nothing new in our world because there is no such thing as 100% certainty. For example, prescription medications carry a certain probability of health risks, but the overall benefit to society far outweighs these risks. IBIA believes that for many useful applications, biometric technology is appropriate, effective, accurate and reliable and is being widely deployed today. Here are three examples:
If one reads beyond the release and summary into the body of the report itself, the authors clearly recognize that "Biometric systems perform well in many existing applications" and that "biometric technologies appear poised for broader use." "There is no question that biometrics in the real world contributes significantly to effective identity systems," said Walter Hamilton, IBIA's Chairman and President.
IBIA appreciates the work and dedication of the writing committee and those that provided input to the work effort including experts from the biometrics industry. We agree with many of the findings in the body of the report and believe that the content provides useful guidance on designing and implementing effective identity systems based on biometric technology. We also support the report's recommendations for further research into biometric technology and systems that will continue to advance the state of the art of biometric technology. We do note, however, that the bulk of the committee's fact-finding took place between 2004 and 2006; and there have been significant advancements in the technology, testing processes and standards for biometrics since that time.
IBIA believes that the report would have been more useful as a reference document to guide future biometric implementation and research if the press release and summary had framed its analysis in a real world context. Since "biometric technologies are poised for broader use," a more balanced approach, outlining the benefits and challenges of biometrics, would have been more constructive for the identification technology industry and for a society that increasingly relies on biometrics for its security.
The International Biometrics & Identification Association (IBIA) is a trade association founded in September 1998 in Washington, D.C. that promotes the effective and appropriate use of technology to determine identity and enhance security, privacy, productivity, and convenience for individuals, organizations, and governments. More information about IBIA can be found at www.ibia.org/association/index.php .
|SOURCE International Biometrics & Identification Association|
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