How Do We Feel About the Government’s Use of Biometrics?

FindBiometrics’ annual Year in Review survey asks our industry a number of compelling questions, but one of the most interesting of them in 2019 is surely the matter of whether we are comfortable with how our governments are using biometric technology.

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This issue exploded into the spotlight last year, thanks in large part to the controversy over Amazon’s sale of facial recognition technology to police agencies, but thanks also to the growing presence of facial recognition technology at airports and other border checkpoints. These high-profile issues have provoked some push-back from privacy and civil rights advocates, but biometric traveler screening – along with other, consumer tech applications of biometrics like the iPhone’s Face ID system – have also helped to familiarize people with this kind of technology in everyday life.

For the kinds of industry watchers and professionals who participate in the FindBiometrics Year in Review, there is generally already a high degree of familiarity with the government’s use of biometric technology. This offers a particularly interesting insight, since the results reflect the opinions of the experts, rather than the layperson. In last year’s results, a considerable majority of respondents were comfortable with how their government was using biometrics: responding to the statement, “I am comfortable with the government’s use of biometrics in the country where I live,” 44 percent agreed, and an additional 22 percent strongly agreed. But there was still a sizeable minority that disagreed: 20 percent gave this answer, with an additional eight percent saying that they strongly disagreed.

2019 has of course seen some advancement in the discourse over how governments use biometrics, with a number of state and municipal governments in the US moving forward with new policies and regulations. It will therefore be another great opportunity to hear from the experts, so if you are a professional in the biometrics industry or adjacent areas – or if you’re just a tech enthusiast who’s familiar with biometrics – be sure to take a few minutes and make your voice heard by filling out 2019’s Year in Review survey.

December 12, 2019 – by Alex Perala