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IBIA Statement Regarding the Release of the National Research Council Report - Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities
Date:10/8/2010

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:<
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SOURCE International Biometrics & Identification Association
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