Biometrics: Friend or foe of privacy?

Biometrics are particularly problematic due to the absence of legal protections in most countries across the world.

Key findings
  • Governments across the world are increasingly requiring biometrics, without legal and technical safeguards.
  • Biometrics should be used only when strictly necessary, and then in limited ways.
  • When deployed, systems should be designed with care, avoiding the use of a database.

New technologies may hold great benefits for the developing world, but without strong legal frameworks ensuring that rights are adequately protected, they pose serious threats to populations they are supposed to empower.

This is never more evident than with the rapid and widespread implementation of biometric technology. Whilst concerns and challenges are seen in both developed and developing countries when it comes to biometrics, for the latter they are more acute due the absence of laws or flawed legal frameworks, which are failing to uphold and ensure the protection of basic human rights.