Scientific methods for personal identification using biometric data
At the time the leaders of the French National Assembly requested the Parliamentary Office for scientific and technological choices to investigate methods for personal identification using biometric data, as well as their application techniques, the subject was not really under discussion in France at any level reflecting the significance of the issues involved. It is true that actions were under preparation and discussion in Europe and elsewhere, there was some desultory research by governments and scientific organisations, the CNIL was attempting to define a " doctrine ", and industry was paying close attention to developments. However all these moves were still localised and compartmented, even though this field calls out for a multi-disciplinary approach, transparency and open discussion. In his report, Mr Christian Cabal begins by setting out the basic questions being raised in this debate: these are both technical and political, and are occasionally argued with a degree of bitterness in other countries. Matters covered include the current level of performance of these techniques, whether any consensus exists about the methods and the results of their evaluation, what needs they are likely to satisfy, how the risks are perceived, and what seem to be the most appropriate technical and legal guarantees. He then goes on to examine the legal framework by which biometric systems are supposed to be governed, as regards not only the way in which they are used but also the legal consequences of such use. Typical questions are for example whether this legal framework is adequate and appropriate in France, and whether the underlying concepts and the procedures worked out will be such as to allow effective regulation of the development of these systems, which seems unavoidable. A number of decisions have in fact been taken or are under consideration in Europe and in other countries with a view to better monitoring the movement of people across international borders. Mr Christian Cabal describes the background to the policies adopted by the United States and other governments within the ICAO, as in the European Union, the objectives of which are legion but where the principal instrument is the prevention of documentary fraud. He also examines the position of the producers of the different systems, particularly two French groups already well established on the identity market, and highlights the political and economic issues in the current moves towards standardisation. In conclusion he makes four recommendations aimed at ensuring better transparency and improved co-operation between all concerned, in both the public and private spheres.
Short title:
Biometric data
Start date:
End date:
Biotechnology, Ethics, Expert-based, Governance, Innovation, IT & communication, Parliament involvement
Project leader:
Office Parlementaire d´Evaluation des Choix Scientifiques et Technologiques of the French Parliament (OPECST)