Biometrics, identity, recognition and the private sphere where we are, where we go

Biometrics, identity, recognition and the private sphere where we are, where we go

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The need for recognition schemes is inherent to human civilization itself. Each epoch has been characterized by different identification practices and has posed different challenges. Today we are confronted with “identification in the globalization age”. Biometrics can be an important element of the answer to this challenge. With biometrics, for the first time in the history, human beings have really enhanced their capacity for personal recognition by amplifying their natural, physiological, recognition scheme, based on the appreciation of physical and behavioural appearances. Biometric technology can offer an identification scheme applicable at global level, indipendently of Nation States. Yet, when one speaks of global biometric identifiers, people immediately think of a nightmarish scenario, a unique world database, including billions of individuals, run by a global superpower. This is (bad) science fiction. We lack the technical and financial capacity, not to mention the international agreement, for creating such a database, which cannot exist today, and will hardly ever exist in the future. One could instead imagine a system based on many decentralized applications. An ongoing rhizome, made up of several distributed, interoperable, biometric databases, owned by local collaborative organizations and agencies. This system could increasingly support identity transactions on a global basis, at the beginning only in specific areas (e.g., refugees, migrants), siding traditional systems, and then, gradually, enlarging its scope and substituting old systems. This is expected to overturn many current ethical and privacy standards.

Chapter Contents:

  • Abstract
  • 16.1 Introduction
  • 16.2 Identity, identification, recognition
  • 16.3 Personal recognition through human history
  • 16.4 Where are we going?
  • 16.4.1 Global mobility of people
  • Difficult challenges
  • Providing refugees with biometric identifiers
  • 16.4.2 Digital economy
  • 16.5 Privacy, person and human dignity
  • 16.5.1 Is biometric inherently demeaning?
  • 16.6 Conclusions
  • References

Inspec keywords: distributed databases; data privacy; biometrics (access control); open systems

Other keywords: interoperable databases; distributed databases; identification; personal recognition; biometric databases; private sphere; international agreement

Subjects: Data security; Distributed databases

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