Tag: biometric data

India’s Supreme Court rules that privacy is a fundamental right

29. August 2017

In the past few years, India’s government aimed to build up the world’s largest biometric database, named Aadhaar. So far, more than a billion citizens have been registered to the identity programme, whereby eye scans and fingerprints are collected. In order to make sure that all citizens registered to the Aadhaar database, the government restricted access to government services for those who are not part of the database.

Critics expressed concerns about the implications of possible future data breaches, jeopardising the privacy of more than a billion Indians. It was also feared that the Indian government could use the database for surveillance purposes.

Last week, a nine-member panel of India’s Supreme Court ruled that a right to privacy is a part of article 21 of the Constitution of India. This historic ruling could result in the abrogation of the mandatory enrolment to the Aadhaar database. Furthermore, any future laws aiming at restricting privacy, will now “have to be tested on the touchstone of article 21”. It remains to be seen whether the ruling will also have lasting effects on the civil liberties and the daily life of Indians.

Facial recognition on the rise

4. August 2017

At Australian airports new technology will be rolled out which will help processing passengers by means of facial recognition. Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, said that 105 smart gates will be provided for this purpose as part of a AU$22.5 million contract with Vision-Box Australia. Vision-Box has already implemented a facial recognition system at New York’s JFK airport.

Australian government’s goal is to automatize 90 % of air traveller processing by 2020. After the implementation, passengers will not have to show their passports, but will be processed by biometric recognition of their faces, irises and/or fingerprints.

Meanwhile, at Berlin’s Südkreuz station the testing of a facial recognition system began. The software can recognise known suspects and alert the police. Currently, the software is only scanning the faces of 250 volunteers. Thomas de Maizière, the German interior minister, aims at improving security in Germany after several terrorist attacks.

However, concerns were raised over this technology by privacy activists as well as by well-respected lawyers. They fear that Germany could head towards a surveillance state. Besides, it is stated there was no constitutional basis for the use of these methods.

INTERPOL suggests that governments share terrorists’ biometric data

11. November 2016

The IAPP just published an article saying that INTERPOL calls on governments around the world to share terrorists’ biometric data in order to increase global security.

This statement was issued by INTERPOL’s General Assembly saying that it currently possesses information about 9,000 terrorists. However, only 10 percent of these files include biometric information. INTERPOL’s Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, explaines that this can be seen as “a weak link” in the prevention of terrorism.

On one side, some countries – among these are multiple ASEAN countries – have taken big steps with regard to data sharing as they have recently agreed to share biometric data for the purposes of counter-terrorism. On the other side, many governments are still discussing how to handle biometric data domestically. So the sharing of data would be one step ahead.

However, governments worldwide becoming more and more interested in biometric security which might help to fight terrorism. The mentioned suggestion of INTERPOL might also increase this kind of cooperation.