As of last week, any person arrested and fingerprinted in California will now undergo an automatic immigration check. Biometric security measures are in widespread use, yet many issues are still debated – including privacy concerns. In this article, we are going to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of biometric security measures from both a technical and a social perspective.
California became the ninth state in which each county has activated Secure Communities, a fingerprint data-sharing program between local law enforcement offices and federal immigration enforcement agencies. Other states with complete activation include Texas, West Virginia, Florida, Arizona, Delaware, Virginia, Wisconsin and New Mexico.
Brighthub.com reports that biometric systems are used for identification and authentication, measuring and comparing people’s biological and behavioral properties such as fingerprints and voice, for example. Thus, taking into consideration the definition (*) of biometrics as characteristics, all biometric processes inherently rely on biometric security measures.
Biometric security measures can also be conceived as devices and systems which are designed to make something more secure, for instance a passport, by including a microchip containing data such as the passport owner’s facial, iris and fingerprint biometrics.
The California Department of Emergency Services defines Secure Communities as a program between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Justice that automatically sends name and fingerprint information submitted through a federal file-sharing system, where it’s checked against both the FBI criminal history records and biometrics-based immigration records in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Automated Biometric Identification System.
Secure Communities is one more stopgap to learn whether people are being honest about their immigration status,” a sheriff commander in Orange County stated. “Without this, we wouldn’t know that DHS would want to have contact with them; it’s automatic.”
Because Secure Communities is fundamentally an information-sharing partnership between federal agencies, state and local jurisdictions cannot opt out of the program. But jurisdictions can opt not to receive the results of immigration queries after a print is matched, according to Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for ICE.
Pros of Biometric Security Measures
The advantages of biometric security measures are that biometrics are based on the uniqueness of individual physiological properties such as distinct fingerprints to prevent impersonation, and that biometric security measures (recognition processes) are automated.
What’s more is the ease with which biometric processes can be added to legacy security systems to make them more secure when multi-factor authentication or the “something you are, something you know and something you have” principle is required.
Cons of Biometric Security Measures
The disadvantages of biometric security measures are that these measures could pose a risk to those individuals whose access to a facility, ATM or IT system is secured with a biometric device. Concerns are that criminals could take an eye or finger from the victim in order to steal or gain unauthorized access of some sort.
Also, biometric devices are said to be non-cancellable. That is, body parts that are damaged, or worse, in an accident cannot be as easily replaced like a forgotten password. This is why you have to have more than one finger scanned when you enroll for fingerprint biometrics.
In addition, privacy concerns and the fear of potential misuse of data are two main reasons why people are reluctant to adopt biometric security measures including, for example, biometric passports.
Sacramento : CA : USA | Feb 28, 2011
By Dava Castillo
Source: All Voices