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Biometric Scanning, Law & Policy: Identifying the Concerns--Drafting the Biometric Blueprint

NCJ Number
University of Pittsburgh Law Review Dated: 1997
John D. Woodward
Date Published
52 pages
This paper indicates understanding biometrics is essential for elected government officials charged with authorizing how these new technologies will be used and for government managers responsible for implementing biometrics in comprehensive integrated programs.
The paper examines legal issues from the standpoint of possible constitutional concerns associated with the government's use of biometric technology. The focus is especially on physical privacy and information privacy concerns. These concerns are explored through relevant case law dealing with the impact of technology on privacy. Major problems government agencies face in terms of the "regulatory gap" when they seek to incorporate the use of biometrics into their programs are discussed. The paper presents a modest biometric blueprint, a framework to ensure legal and policy concerns mesh productively with technical, security, and administrative factors. Existing biometric technologies are then considered in terms of which ones offer the most promise for the blueprint in actual practice. Biometric technologies noted in the paper include retinal scanning, iris recognition, finger imaging, hand geometry, face recognition, voice recognition, signature recognition, vein measurement, and analysis of the chemical composition of body odor. Appendixes provide additional information on biometric applications currently being used by Federal and State government agencies and Internet sites related to biometrics. 391 footnotes