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.