Biometrics questioned

Before government agencies buy into biometrics for security, especially facial recognition, they should resolve the policy and privacy issues, said panelists at a Jan. 25 forum sponsored by the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank.

Since Sept. 11, governments have become obsessed with biometric technologies, said John Woodward Jr., senior policy analyst with Rand Arroyo Center, a nonprofit policy research institute in Santa Monica, Calif.

Biometrics stepped into the mainstream with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but regulations are weak or nonexistent about sharing data obtained through biometrics, he said, and some jurisdictions are already using it haphazardly in public places.

Panelists also said biometric technology raises concerns about identity theft, violation of privacy and the impact on people participating in witness protection programs.

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