A world without biometric collection is a world with increased bias and less security and privacy (DHS ICR part two)

This post is adapted from Bredemarket’s November 10, 2021 submitted comments on DHS-2021-0015-0005, Information Collection Request, Public Perceptions of Emerging Technology. See yesterday’s post for additional thoughts on bias, security, and privacy.

By Cleanup by Andrew_pmk (talk · contribs); straightened and cropped by Holek (talk · contribs) – http://www.9-11commission.gov/press/911report_cover_HIGHRES.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2376314

Because of many factors, including the 9/11 tragedy that spurred the organization of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) itself, DHS has been charged to identify individuals as a part of its oversight of customs and border protection, transportation security, and investigations. There are many ways to identify individuals, including:

  • What you know, such as a password.
  • What you have, such as a passport or token.
  • What you are, such as your individual face, fingers, voice, or DNA.
  • Where you are.

Is it possible to identify an individual without use of computerized facial recognition or other biometric or AI technologies? In other words, can the “what you are” test be eliminated from DHS operations?

Some may claim that the “what you have” test is sufficient. Present a driver’s license or a passport and you’re identified.

  • However, secure documents are themselves secured by the use of biometrics, primarily facial recognition.
  • Before a passport is issued, many countries including the U.S. conduct some type of biometric test to ensure that a single person does not obtain two or more passports.
  • Similar tests are conducted before driver’s licenses and other secure documents are issued.

In addition, people attempt to forge secure documents by creating fake driver’s licenses and fake passports. Thus, all secure documents need to be evaluated, in part by confirming that the biometrics on the document match the biometrics of the person presenting the document.

In short, there is no way to remove biometric identification from the DHS identification operation. And if you did, who knows how each individual officer would judge whether a person is who they claim to be?


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