2012 in Review: Biometric ID Systems Grew Internationally … And So Did Concerns About Privacy

by Rebecca Bowe, Activist Post

Around the world, systems of identification that employ automatic recognition of individuals’ faces, fingerprints, or irises are gaining ground. Biometric ID systems are increasingly being deployed at international border checkpoints, by governments seeking to implement national ID schemes, and by private-sector actors. Yet as biometric data is collected from more and more individuals, privacy concerns about the use of this technology are also attracting attention. Below are several examples of the year’s most prominent debates around biometrics.

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    • FRANCE: In early March, the French National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) passed a law proposing the creation of a new biometric ID card for French citizens, saying the measure would combat “identity fraud.” Embedded in the cards would be a compulsory chip containing personal information such as fingerprints, a photograph, home addresses, height, and eye color. All of this information would be stored in a central database. French Senator François Pillet called the initiative a time bomb for civil liberties. Near the end of March, however, the French Constitutional Council ruled that the new law proposing the introduction of a new biometric ID for French citizenswas unconstitutional.

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