The recent investigation by CHOICE found the companies were “capturing the biometric data of their customers”, and 76 percent of shoppers did not know the technology was used in Australian stores.
Australian biometric security firm Daltrey says the days of the wild west of biometrics must end and the industry and market needs to do more to drive the responsible use of biometrics, educate consumers and establish higher levels of trust and accountability.
Blair Crawford, CEO and founder of Daltrey, stresses, “It is the responsibility of the industry and market to get this right. The impetus is on biometric vendors to push and promote the responsible use of biometrics and to say no when a customer wants to use the technology in a way that isn’t ethical or morally responsible, for example if an organisation wants to do mass identification for demographic profiling.”
Blair argues that biometric programs must be built on a foundation of consent, where people have to opt in based on a clear understanding of the scope and the value to the person opting in.
“In terms of a national framework, there are actually a lot of standards that already exist to guide the use and applications of biometric technology such as ISO/IEC 24745:2022, which defines the principles of confidentiality, integrity and privacy protection of biometric information to make the use of biometrics safer. The focus should be on the adoption of these standards to safeguard the integrity of the users’ security and privacy,” he says.
Blair stresses it is important to delineate between the applications of this technology, for example law enforcement using biometrics to identify people who’ve been confirmed as a threat to public safety versus biometrics for general mass identification without consent.
“Technology in itself isn’t good or bad, it’s how it’s applied, and using technology in a responsible and ethical way. A responsible biometrics program is initiated on a consent basis when the scope and context is clearly communicated to the user for them to opt in,” he says.
According to leading economists, the global biometric technology market size is projected to reach USD $11.49B by 2026, from USD $6.14B in 2020.