Biometric Identifier

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Full Title or Meme

Biometric Attributes of the biologic phenotype of a User may be used to Identify that user.

Context

  • Biometric Attributes are taken to be exclusively the measure of human characteristics like fingerprint, facial and behavior patterns.
  • The human characteristics are another factor that can be a part of Multi-factor Authentication.
  • So the human characteristics can be considered to be a Credential.
  • The measurements of the characteristic are compared against a template of the characteristics using some Assurance level to produce a Validated claim.

Problems

  • Biometric Attributes attached to official documents may inadvertently become Biometric Identifiers which invade the user's privacy. See the wiki page Biometric Identifier for user cases where that has damaged a user's life.
  • In a case described in the New York Times Magazine[1] an emigrant from Haiti had her fingerprints taken on several occasion while applying for citizenship. One of those forms was used to apply for citizenship for a differently named person. When that case was abandoned, a judge issues a deportation order. The emigrant was later granted citizenship. Many years later the government digitalized all the fingerprint records, found the fraudulent earlier application and used the fingerprints on the fraudulent form to charge with new citizen with a felony in spite of no evidence that she had filed the fraudulent form.

Solutions

  • Use of Biometric Identifiers can be crucial in cases where no other identity documents are available, such as refugees or homeless people, but their use without evidence of intent, or contemporaneous binding to a document, is fraught with the potential for severe privacy violations.

References

  1. Seth Freed Wessler, Denaturalized. (2018-12-30) New York Times Magazine p. 36ff