COVID-19 will change biometrics' use and deployment, survey finds
02 July 2020 17:09 GMT

A majority of respondents to the Biometrics Institute’s annual Industry Survey said they believed COVID-19 would change the way biometrics were used and implemented.

A majority of 60% agreed that the coronavirus marked a pivotal moment for biometrics, with technology suppliers most convinced – 65% – that this would be the case.

In its eleventh year, the Industry Survey provides an insight into trends and developments in the biometrics industry over the last year as well as looking to the future.

The results also provide insights into industry attitudes on a number of key issues. The timing of this year’s survey meant that the institute was able to include questions on the impact of the pandemic.

When asked an open-ended question about how the use of biometrics would change as a result of coronavirus, the majority of responses referred to the likely move to contactless and touchless modalities, as well as the increased demand for remote use.

Linking biometrics with health data and the need for face recognition technology to be developed to deal with the use of masks were also mentioned.

Isabelle Moeller, Biometrics Institute chief executive said, "The introduction of COVID-19- related questions this year shows us what we have also found from our recent online meetings – that the virus is something of a gamechanger for the industry".

Among the Biometrics Institute members and industry professionals who completed the survey, it was generally agreed that any response to the pandemic should have human rights at the front of mind.

There was however some recognition that there might be a need to sacrifice some degree of privacy moving forward. Privacy and data protection concerns are restraining the market Away from COVID-19, the view that privacy and data protection concerns are the leading factor restraining the market has been steadily rising over the last five years.

This year, these issues still topped the table and were mentioned by nearly two thirds of respondents – 63% – but had dipped slightly from last year. Misinformation, data sharing concerns and poor knowledge amongst decision makers followed.

Mass surveillance and misidentification concern the public the most Following a lively media debate on the future of biometrics since last year’s survey, a new question asked what aspects of biometrics industry professionals thought concerned the public the most.

Linked databases leading to mass surveillance and misidentification topped the list. And a conclusive 89% agreed that properly educating the public about the benefits of biometrics is crucial for the future of the industry. On the subject of law enforcement, 68% agreed that use of biometrics should always be proportionate and time limited with only 14% disagreeing. 

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