Understanding Digital Data Flows: Biometrics-Head to Toe

$250-$350 September 29 @ 11:00am - 1:00pm (ET)


Click here to learn more about FPF’s Understanding Digital Data Flows trainings. 


Derived from the Greek words “bio” meaning life and “metric” meaning to measure, biometrics refers to applying statistical analysis to physical traits. A biometric is any measurable physical characteristic or personal trait that can be used to identify or verify an individual’s identity.

As an emerging technology with ever-increasing applications, biometric technology is used for personal identity, authentication, profiling, analysis, and tracking. These applications raise concerns for people in some contexts, but these systems are also being used to make it easier to access the devices and accounts individuals and companies rely on, thereby helping to do things like unlock smartphones, access bank accounts, travel, and enter physical workspaces. There are things biometric technologies do well, and areas where the use of biometric systems should be considered with caution. Particularly when systems are used to track people’s health, behavioral habits, analysis or profiling, or even to evaluate emotion, personal characteristics, or preferences. Current social, ethical, and regulatory regimes are still grappling with how to best govern the development and application of this technology.

Session will cover topics including:

  • How biometrics systems work, including definitions, technology processes, and common systems such as facial recognition, fingerprints, voice, and behavioral characterization;
  • The benefits and risks, including efficiencies, potential harms, and privacy considerations;
  • Common commercial applications of the technology in healthcare, advertising, employment, and education contexts; and
  • Social and ethical considerations, including law enforcement uses, regulatory frameworks, and standards setting initiatives.


Brenda Leong

Senior Counsel & Director of AI & Ethics, Future of Privacy Forum

Brenda oversees development of privacy analysis of AI and Machine Learning technologies, and manages the FPF portfolio on biometrics and digital identity, along with the ethics challenges of these emerging systems. Read her full bio.

Dr. John Howard

John is a computer scientist specializing in biometrics research and the test and evaluation of artificial intelligence systems. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Southern Methodist University where his dissertation focused on understanding group-based performance variation in biometric systems. He is currently a principal scientist at SAIC, and the lead data scientist at the Maryland Test Facility, a government funded research lab that focuses on measuring the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of AI applications. Read his full bio.