On Wednesday 26th November Louise gave evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on the current and future uses of biometric data and technologies. The witnesses also included Professor Sue Black, forensic anthropologist and Director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human identification; Professor Juliet Lodge representing the Biometrics Institute; and Sir John Adye, Chair of Identity Assurance Systems and former Director of GCHQ.
The video of the committee hearing can be found here:
The questions and discussion were wide ranging and covered a diverse set of issues. Overall, the Committee’s questions reflected an extraordinarily broad sense of what counts as biometric data – from DNA and vein recognition through to the extraction of facial recognition templates from online social media. There was discussion around the difficulties, in terms of legislation and government, in keeping up with the pace of new technologies and their implications for ideas of ‘purpose’ and ‘consent’. The Committee were also interested in the implications of capacities for linkage between biometric data and other forms of data involved in the building of profiles. As a probabilistic science an enormous weight of responsibility is currently placed on biometric technologies to deliver elements of uncertainty in an uncertain world. Across all of the witnesses it was clear that the fallibility of biometric techniques does not quite justify the faith placed in them to provide such certainties.