UK to investigate current and future uses of biometric data and technologies
12 August 2014 18:06 GMT

Get your voice heard on the future of biometrics in the UK

The UK's Science and Technology Committee has launched an inquiry into the potential use and collection of biometric data and whether regulations in this emerging field are adequate. It wants to hear from all those with views on the future of the technology.

Technologies relying on biometric data to authenticate identity have been used predominately by Government authorities for security purposes, such as protecting computer network access, countering fraud and in aspects of UK border security. The latter includes the now decommissioned Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS), biometric residence permits, and ePassports which feature a microchip that stores a digitised image of the holder’s passport photograph.

Commercial organisations, however, are starting to play a greater role in both developing and using biometric data and technologies. It is anticipated that this trend will continue over the next decade, particularly as the financial costs, and computational resources required, decrease.

Some commercial uses are already mainstream, says the Committee. Social media sites offer facial recognition software to assist users tagging uploaded photos, while accessing some mobile phones depends on fingerprint recognition rather than entering a passcode. Supporters contend that technologies relying on biometric data have transformed identity authentication. However, concerns continue to be raised about data protection, loss of privacy and identity theft.

With all this in mind, the Science and Technology Committee is seeking written submissions on the state of development of technologies using biometric data. Specifically:

  • How might biometric data be applied in the future?
  • What are the key challenges facing both Government and industry in developing, implementing and regulating new technologies that rely on biometric data? How might these be addressed?
  • How effective is current legislation governing the ownership of biometric data and who can collect, store and use it?
  • Should the Government be identifying priorities for research and development in biometric technologies? Why?

The Committee is inviting written submissions on these issues by midday on Friday 26 September 2014.