Biometrics Institute calls to make privacy a priority
06 May 2021 17:29 GMT

The Biometrics Institute has released its updated Privacy Guidelines, which include two brand new  principles. The first is around the need for a communications plan which explains the pros and cons of  using a biometric to ensure maximum understanding among both the public and the organisation’s own employees. The second is for law enforcement to ensure that even when there is an exemption  under the law, actions are ethical and sensitive to community expectations and human rights.  

Every two years, the Biometrics Institute updates its Privacy Guidelines to make sure they reflect  global changes in technology or legislation which impacts privacy. They are the result of extensive  monitoring and consultation by its Privacy and Policy Expert Group, which comprises a broad  spectrum of privacy specialists from around the globe. 

The membership organisation is launching its updated guidelines in Privacy Awareness Week (3-9  May) whose 2021 theme is ‘make privacy a priority’. 

Key changes to the 2021 Privacy Guidelines update include: 

• The strengthening of existing principles to meet developments since the last review, including  COVID-19 effects on privacy, advances in artificial intelligence, the popularity of ancestry-type  search engines and the increasing sophistication of international crime and terrorism 

• Greater protection against cultural or other discrimination, and to ensure that people who do  not have access to IT systems do not lose rights or privileges 

• Stronger advice about openness and the gaining of informed consent  

• Strengthening of advice to users such as police, courts and purchasing officers for major  biometric systems to fully understand issues of accuracy, bias and success or failure rates  • Ensuring the fair handling of complaints and expert human intervention in cases where people  are harmed or disadvantaged by the operations of a biometric system  

As biometric technology continues to affect a growing number of the world’s citizens, the Privacy Guidelines are designed to be universally useable and provide good practice advice on the roll out and  management of biometric-based projects. 

Terry Aulich, head of the Biometrics Institute’s Privacy and Policy Expert Group said, “The guidelines  are not intended to replace local laws, but bring a higher level of good practice to the fore. Whether  the users are police forces, the aviation industry, border authorities, humanitarian organisations,  health researchers or social media companies, the guidelines are ethical and practical advice about  obtaining a genuine balance between technology and human considerations.” 

The guidelines, first introduced to Biometrics Institute members in 2006, are made up of 18 principles  ranging from non-discrimination to maintaining a strong privacy environment. They also contain a  methodology to make planning, implementing and managing them straightforward, regardless of  members’ maturity in using biometrics. 

 

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