About this Issue

Biometric technology has long been used for security and law enforcement purposes such as national security watch lists, passport controls, criminal fingerprint databases, and immigration processing. Now, however, the private sector increasingly uses these systems as a verification method for authentication that previously required a PIN or password. Apple’s decision to include a fingerprint scanner in the iPhone in 2013 brought new public awareness to possible non-law-enforcement applications of biometric technologies, and the company’s shift to facial recognition access in the most recent models further normalized the concept. Biometric technology continues to be adopted in many sectors, including financial services, transportation, health care, computer systems and facility access, and voting. In many cases, this technology is more efficient, less expensive, and easier to use than traditional alternatives, while also eliminating the need for passwords, which are broadly recognized as an insufficiently secure safeguard for user data. However, as with any digital system, there are privacy concerns around the collection, use, storage, sharing, and analysis of the data that are generated by these systems.

Brenda Leong, Senior Counsel & Director of Artificial Intelligence and Ethics, runs FPF’s biometrics project, focusing primarily on facial recognition.

FPF Releases Understanding Facial Detection, Characterization, and Recognition Technologies and Privacy Principles for Facial Recognition Technology in Commercial Applications
Spotlight

September 20, 2018 | Brenda Leong

FPF Releases Understanding Facial Detection, Characterization, and Recognition Technologies and Privacy Principles for Facial Recognition Technology in Commercial Applications

These resources will help businesses and policymakers better understand and evaluate the growing use of face-based biometric technology systems when used for consumer applications. Facial recognition technology can help users organize and label photos, improve online services for visually impaired users, and help stores and stadiums better serve customers. At the same time, the technology often involves the collection and use of sensitive biometric data, requiring careful assessment of the data protection issues raised. Understanding the technology and building trust are necessary to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

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What's Happening: Biometrics

FPF Letter to NY State Legislature
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June 17, 2019 | Amelia Vance

FPF Letter to NY State Legislature

On Friday, June 14, FPF submitted a letter to the New York State Assembly and Senate supporting a well-crafted moratorium on facial recognition systems for security uses in public schools. 

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February 27, 2019 | FPF Staff

FPF Comments on the Washington Privacy Act, SB 5376

Today, the Future of Privacy Forum submitted comments to the Washington State Senate Ways & Means Committee on the proposed Washington Privacy Act, Senate Bill 5376. FPF takes a “neutral” position regarding the Bill, and makes a few important points. FPF commends the Bill’s sponsors for addressing a broad set of individual data protection rights. […]

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Digital Data Flows Masterclass: Emerging Technologies
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January 2, 2019 | editor

Digital Data Flows Masterclass: Emerging Technologies

Digital Data Flows Masterclass is a year-long educational program designed for regulators, policymakers, and staff seeking to better understand the data-driven technologies at the forefront of data protection law & policy. The program will feature experts on machine learning, biometrics, connected cars, facial recognition, online advertising, encryption, and other emerging technologies. Sign up to receive email […]

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