Biometrics_Privacy_Issues

Biometrics_Privacy_Issues - THE PROFESSION Computer[IEEE...

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92 Computer I n the post-9/11 world, various government agencies have pro- posed or built several data systems that significantly affect civil liber- ties. As system designers and devel- opers, we might not be aware of how the decisions we make when imple- menting such systems could threaten civil liberties. Thus, we need mecha- nisms or procedures to help us make technical decisions that respect human rights. Biometrics is an area in which this need is especially important. WHAT IS BIOMETRICS? Biometrics refers to the automatic identification or verification of living persons using their enduring physical or behavioral characteristics. Many body parts, personal characteristics, and imaging methods have been sug- gested and used for biometric systems: fingers, hands, faces, eyes, voices, sig- natures, typing styles, DNA, and so on. The body parts most often used in cur- rent applications are fingerprints and facial characteristics. Biometric systems process raw data to extract a biometric template —a small set of data that can be uniquely derived given a biometric feature. Various algorithms process biometric data to produce a template. For exam- ple, in a face-recognition system, facial- geometry algorithms work by defining a reference line—for example, the line joining the pupils of the eyes—and using it to measure the distance and angle of various facial features relative to this reference. Templates are easier to process and store than the original raw data. Biometric systems fall into two cate- gories: authentication and identifica- tion, with authentication systems being far more common. To be authenticated by a system, a subject presents a pass- word or a token such as an ID card, along with a live biometric sample such as a fingerprint. The system accesses a record based on the token, then com- pares the sample’s biometric data with the record’s sample to authenticate the subject’s identity. Authentication systems are reliable and efficient if the subject base is small and the biometric readers are accurate and durable. Airports, prisons, and companies that need secure access use systems such as these. Implementing identification systems is more difficult. To be identified by a system, a subject provides biometric data, and the system must find a record based on that data only—which can require a search of the entire database. Performing this search takes a long time and even then will only rarely result in a single-record match. This means that the system must perform additional filtering. Keep in mind that these searches are not text-based. Because biometric data is pattern-based , finding a hit requires specialized algorithms that focus on finding specific patterns in certain aspects of the data.
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