Biometrics and Privacy

From: Matthew Gaylor (
Date: Mon Apr 30 2001 - 07:59:49 MDT

Biometrics and Privacy By Roger Clarke

Roger Clarke is one of Australia's premier computer scientists, a
visiting fellow of the Australian National University and owner of
Xamax Consultancy Pty. Ltd, 2001. Here is his introduction:


Biometrics is a general term for measurements of humans designed to
be used to identify them or authenticate that they are who they claim
to be. Many biometric technologies have been developed in the last
few decades, and the technologies have already been applied in a
variety of settings.

Biometric technologies have extremely serious implications for human
rights in general, and privacy in particular. Their uses to date have
been to enable powerful organisations to exercise social control over
people, and the designs have been highly insensitive to the interests
of the individuals they're imposed upon.

This document provides background to the topic, and pointers to some
resources. It's a set of preliminary notes on a complex and
challenging subject. Constructively negative feedback is sought, to

The material is organised under the following headings:

* Identification and Identity Authentication
* Biometrics
* How Biometrics Technologies Work
* Uses of Biometrics
* Effectiveness, Accuracy and Benefits
* Threats
* Safeguards
* Conclusions

* References
* Other Biometrics Resources
* Biometrics Industry Associations
* Biometrics Industry Materials

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