Government use of biometric data | Avast

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One of the important information that came out of the US-led withdrawal from Afghanistan is that some of the equipment left behind was used for a biometric data collection program. The US military had used devices to capture fingerprints, iris scans and facial images to create a database of the Afghan population to help fight terrorists.

This handheld interagency identity detection equipment, called HIIDE, is now in the possession of the Taliban, and it is feared that this information will now be used to locate Afghan citizens who have aided the United States and its allies. This demonstrates the danger of collecting sensitive biometric personal data and underscores the fact that it must be minimized. Inevitably, personal data is disclosed or viewed by unauthorized persons. In recent years, data breaches have occurred with increasing frequency. However, this does not prevent global governments or large corporations from collecting highly sensitive biometric data. The collection of biometric data is also increasing.

The Lists of U.S. Government Responsibility Offices 24 federal agencies currently using or planning to use facial recognition technology. Six of these agencies say they will use it for national law enforcement.

For example, some people have undergone a facial examination to board a plane at the airport. This technology is riddled with privacy concerns, as it could easily lead to mass surveillance and bogus arrests. Some states in the United States have already banned the use of facial recognition technology because of these concerns, but most have not. Certainly, this technology has the potential to be very useful for law enforcement agencies. prevent terrorist attacks or hunt down criminals to stop them too but it comes at a significant cost to privacy.

Popular devices that collect biometric data

Apple Watch, Fitbit, and other devices have been collecting data from their users for years. Recently the Wall Street reported that Apple Watches will soon be able to record blood pressure and body temperature to help with fertility planning. The growing collection of sensitive health and biometric data is of concern. It is just as likely that the data will be used for the purpose of price discrimination (charging someone a higher price for certain personal information of which the company is aware) as it is to advance diagnosis and treatment. of various diseases.


Further reading:
What does your Apple Watch know about you?
Here’s what your Fitbit knows about you
Advancing digital identity with Charles Walton of Avast


When it comes to data collected through personal devices, at least individuals have the option of not wearing a smartwatch or taking a smartphone with them wherever they go. However, when a surveillance state uses facial recognition technology to track its citizens or requires facial scans to access essential services like public housing or healthcare, collecting biometric data is almost impossible to avoid. Imagine leaving your apartment to visit a family member and know that the government is able to follow you along the way. It’s a vivid example of how invasive technology could be used to destroy any notion of privacy.

We applaud the efforts of governments to ban the use of facial recognition technology and hope other countries and states will follow suit. It is a dangerous precedent to allow the massive collection of biometric data, no matter how noble the goal. Technology is too easily reused for something dangerous to civil liberties. We are already seeing countries like China requiring face scanners for their citizens to access social housing, and now they are planning to do kids scan to play video games online. Maybe kids would be better off spending less time playing online, but nonetheless, we believe the bad outweighs the good as privacy is drastically diminished.

Ben Franklin is often quoted as saying, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to buy some temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.” This notion is particularly relevant in the context of government oversight. We know that governments that have so much power over their citizens are likely to abuse it.

If you want to push back against these types of data collection practices, you can voice your concerns to your local politicians and decision makers. Additionally, you can take conscious steps to anonymize yourself in public (like wearing a face mask or hat), and most importantly, disable as many data collection settings on your personal devices as possible.


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