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Biometrics is the "science of measuring an individual's physical properties." [1]


Biometrics Consortium

Biometrics, as defined by the Biometrics Consortium, are "automated methods of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic. Among the features measured are; face, fingerprints, hand geometry, handwriting, iris, retinal, vein, and voice. Biometric technologies are becoming the foundation of an extensive array of highly secure identification and personal verification solutions. As the level of security breaches and transaction fraud increases, the need for highly secure identification and personal verification technologies is becoming apparent.

"Biometric-based solutions are able to provide for confidential financial transactions and personal data privacy. The need for biometrics can be found in federal, state and local governments, in the military, and in commercial applications. Enterprise-wide network security infrastructures, government IDs, secure electronic banking, investing and other financial transactions, retail sales, law enforcement, and health and social services are already benefiting from these technologies.

"Biometric-based authentication applications include workstation, network, and domain access, single sign-on, application logon, data protection, remote access to resources, transaction security and Web security. Trust in these electronic transactions is essential to the healthy growth of the global economy. Utilized alone or integrated with other technologies such as smart cards, encryption keys and digital signatures, biometrics are set to pervade nearly all aspects of the economy and our daily lives. Utilizing biometrics for personal authentication is becoming convenient and considerably more accurate than current methods (such as the utilization of passwords or PINs). This is because biometrics links the event to a particular individual (a password or token may be used by someone other than the authorized user), is convenient (nothing to carry or remember), accurate (it provides for positive authentication), can provide an audit trail and is becoming socially acceptable and inexpensive." [2]

Biometrics Journal

"The terms Biometrics and Biometry have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences. Statistical methods for the analysis of data from agricultural field experiments to compare the yields of different varieties of wheat, for the analysis of data from human clinical trials evaluating the relative effectiveness of competing therapies for disease, or for the analysis of data from environmental studies on the effects of air or water pollution on the appearance of human disease in a region or country are all examples of problems that would fall under the umbrella of Biometrics as the term has been historically used."

"Recently, the term Biometrics has also been used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition." [3]


"In the development of biometric identification systems, physical and behavioral features for recognition are required" which possess: [4]

  • Uniqueness: as unique as possible, that is, an identical trait won't appear in two people
  • Universality: occur in as many people as possible
  • Permanence: don't change over time
  • Measurability: measurable with simple technical instruments
  • User Friendliness: easy and comfortable to measure

Biometrics Technologies

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links


Articles & Commentary

  • John D. Woodward, Jr., Esq., et al., "Army Biometric Applications: Identifying and Addressing Sociocultural Concerns," Appendix C: "Legal Assessment: Legal Concerns Raised by the U.S. Army's Use of Biometrics," RAND Corporation, 2001. ISBN 0-8330-2985-1.
  • Mark Trevelyn, "Ridge: U.S. and E.U. Should Pioneer Biometrics," Reuters, October 29, 2003: The US and EU "should lead the world in setting international standards for biometrics such as facial recognition technology, ...ways to combine fingerprints and facial recognition in travel documents could lead to a global standard. ... 'First principle: transatlantic agreement, U.S.-European Union agreement, leads the international discussion,' Ridge told a news conference after meeting German Interior Minister Otto Schily in Berlin. 'I think the effort is to consolidate, harmonize the agreement between ourselves and then take it out to the rest of the world.'"