October 02, 2022

Anonybit Team

Current Biometric Data Privacy Protection Regulations

Blog

Biometric Data Privacy is pivotal in safeguarding sensitive information, including personal identifiers like fingerprints or facial recognition data. When you whip out your smartphone and use your selfie to verify a transaction, you want to make sure your data stays safe and sound. This blog post will be your trusted guide to privacy-preserving biometric authentication techniques, shedding light on the information privacy laws and regulations that protect your digital identity.

Are you curious about how to keep your biometric data secure and avoid data protection issues? Anonybit’s identity management platform is your lifeline for grasping biometric information privacy laws and regulations. Let’s dive in.

What Is Biometric Data?

man infront of mobile - Biometric Data Privacy

Biometrics are measurements of a person’s unique physical characteristics, including fingerprints, palmprints, voiceprints, and facial or iris measurements. A person’s biometric data – their specific measurements – can be used as unique identifiers.

As tools for collecting biometric data become more advanced and employed, laws are being introduced and considered to prevent private entities from collecting biometric information without disclosure and consent.

Types of Biometrics Used for Authentication

Fingerprint Recognition

Fingerprint recognition is one of the oldest and most widely used biometric authentication methods. It analyzes the unique patterns and ridges present on an individual’s fingertips to verify identity. Fingerprint sensors are commonly found on smartphones, laptops, and access control systems. More than 70% of Americans use biometrics, which includes scanning fingerprints.

Iris Recognition

Iris recognition is a highly accurate and reliable biometric modality that authenticates individuals using the unique patterns in the iris or the colored part of the eye. With an extremely high accuracy rate, it is less prone to false positives, making it a trusted technology in high-security environments such as airports and government buildings.

Facial Recognition

Facial recognition analyzes facial features, such as the size and shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth, to verify identity. It can be used in various contexts, including smartphone unlocking, self-service kiosk applications, and airport security checkpoints. 

Voice Recognition

Voice recognition relies on the unique characteristics of an individual’s voice, such as pitch, tone, and cadence, to authenticate identity. Voice biometrics are widely used worldwide in telephone banking systems, customer service, and voice-activated devices like smart speakers.

Behavioral Biometrics

BBehavioral biometrics analyzes patterns in human behavior, such as typing rhythm, mouse movement, and other cognitive movements, to authenticate users. Unlike physical biometrics, which are static, behavioral biometrics capture dynamic characteristics that can change over time. This form of authentication is often used for fraud detection in online banking and e-commerce platforms.

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The Challenges Of Biometric Data Privacy

hacker on PC - Biometric Data Privacy

Biometric data is the crème de la crème of personal data. It’s like your VIP pass to your online life. It’s the key to unlocking your secrets, bank accounts, and life history.

The Nightmare of Stolen Identity

Imagine a hacker breaking into a database and stealing your fingerprint data. Suddenly, your phone, home, and entire digital life may no longer be secure. The big challenge is to argue that a transaction was then conducted by someone other than you. That’s the harsh reality of biometric data privacy concerns and why protecting biometric data is so important.

Anonybit: Your Digital Bodyguard for Biometric Security

At Anonybit, our decentralized biometrics system design helps companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud. With a decentralized biometrics solution, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, and help desk authentication. We are on a mission to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers, and synthetic identity fraud.

To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 biometric authentication and 1:N biometric matching to prevent duplicates, synthetics and blocklisted identities 

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, enable strong authentication to eliminate account takeovers, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit.

Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

How Does Biometric Data Protection Work?

how does it work - Biometric Data Privacy

Biometric data protection refers to the strategies, technologies, and processes to secure biometric information from unauthorized access, theft, or misuse. Biometric data or information can refer to any personally identifiable biological characteristics unique to each person.

Convenience and Security

Biometric data, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, is a highly secure and convenient method of identity verification. Its unique data is encrypted, making it difficult to steal or fake. With the widespread use of smartphones, identity verification can be easily and securely completed through our own devices or third-party apps.

Balancing Security and Privacy

As a subset of data privacy, biometric data is unique in its immutability and significant security implications. The potential compromise of biometric databases could lead to severe privacy breaches. Therefore, effective biometric data protection mechanisms are crucial to collect, store, and process this sensitive information while safeguarding individual privacy rights and complying with relevant legal frameworks.

What Regulations Currently Govern Biometric Data Privacy & Protection?

discussion on GDPR regulations - Biometric Data Privacy

1. Biometrics under the GDPR

The GDPR classifies biometric data as a special category of personal data. This means that you may not process biometric data. Even so, the GDPR allows you to process special categories of personal data if your processing falls within one of the lawful reasons for processing. Examples of these are processing with the explicit consent of the data subject or where processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest.

2. Biometrics in the USA 

Illinois 

The USA does not have any federal law dealing with the use of biometric data but certain states, like Illinois, have the Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA). BIPA imposes obligations on organizations that collect and use biometric information. BIPA requires organizations to get the data subject’s written consent before they process biometric data. Still, the penalties for violations are relatively low compared to the GDPR.

It costs approximately $1000 per violation and $5000 for intentional or reckless violation. A judgment handed down on 2 February 2023 clearly stated that BIPA itself does not specify a statute of limitations, which provides significant guidance to future BIPA cases. 

Texas

Like Illinois BIPA, the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act (CUBI) defines biometric identifiers as fingerprints, voiceprints, retina or iris scans, and hand or face geometry. CUBI bars capture biometric identifiers for commercial purposes unless notice and consent are first given.

Unlike the Illinois BIPA, the Texas CUBI does not specify the method of consent required. CUBI bars selling or disclosing biometric identifiers, with very limited exceptions, and requires the protection and confidentiality of data and deletion within a reasonable time frame (but not later than one year after the purpose of the data expires). CUBI provides for a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation and is enforceable only by the Texas Attorney General.

California

Another law similar to BIPA is California Labor Code §1051, an obscure provision which provides in the relevant part:

  • [Any] person or agent or officer thereof, who requires, as a condition precedent to securing or retaining employment, that an employee or applicant for employment be photographed or fingerprinted by any person who desires his or her photograph or fingerprints for the purpose of furnishing the same or information concerning the same or concerning the employee or applicant for employment to any other employer or third person, and these photographs and fingerprints could be used to the detriment of the employee or applicant for employment is guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • California labor law makes it a misdemeanor for an employer to require an employee to be fingerprinted as a condition of employment if the employer plans to provide the information to a third party and if the information could be used to the employee’s detriment.

New York

New York Labor Law prohibits employers from fingerprinting employees as a condition of employment or continued employment unless specifically authorized by another law. N.Y. Labor Law § 201-a. On April 22, 2010, the New York Department of Labor issued an opinion clarifying that it is prohibited under the law to capture a fingerprint, even if it is not stored. Voluntary fingerprinting of employees is not prohibited under this law. Employees cannot be coerced into volunteering.

Colorado

Colorado requires employers to develop policies to properly secure and dispose of paper and electronic documents containing “personal identifying information,” which is defined to include biometric information. Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 6-1-713(1), (2).

North Carolina

North Carolina includes biometric data attached to a person’s name as personal information for purposes of its Identity Theft Protection Act (N.C.G.S. 75-61, 65). Entities with such information must take reasonable measures to protect it against unauthorized access. In addition, North Carolina requires the development and implementation of policies relating to properly disposing of this information.

3. Biometrics in the UK

The September 2017 Data Protection Bill

The Data Protection Bill was published in the U.K. on 14 September 2017. This legislation aims to modernize data protection law in the U.K. for the future.

Since the GDPR applies in the U.K. as of 25 May 2018, the Data Protection Bill only applies where the GDPR leaves the Member States with opportunities to make provisions for how it applies in their country. The Data Protection Bill also concerns topics other than the provisions of the GDPR. The Information Commissioner’s Office (I.C.O.), the U.K.’s Data Protection Authority, explained that reading the GDPR and the Data Protection Bill is essential.

Two Examples of the Data Protection Bill in Action:

The Marriott Data Breach

In July 2019, the I.C.O. imposed on Marriott a fine of £99m—more than €109m or $128m—after the personal data of 339m guests was stolen in a hack that started in 2014. The information stolen included personal data such as passport numbers, log-in, payment card, and travel booking details.

Why did the Maryland-based company get fined? About 30m of the hacked guest records were related to residents of 31 countries in the European Economic Community. The lack of protection is an infringement of the GDPR. Needless to say, the case serves as a barometer to see how the GDPR is enforced against U.S.-based businesses, as stated by law.com in an article dated 27 July 2020. The I.C.O. reduced the size of the fine to £18.4m (or $24m) in a final penalty notice published on 30 October 2020.

The British Airways Data Breach

The  I.C.O. also fined British Airways (B.A.) £183m as a result of a data breach that occurred in 2018 and affected the personal and credit card data of over 400,000 customers. In October 2020, I.C.O. reduced the fine to £20m ($26m), according to the B.B.C.

These regulations emphasize the importance of safeguarding biometric data and protecting individuals’ privacy. Organizations can ensure compliance and avoid hefty penalties for mishandling biometric information by understanding these rules.

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How Can Businesses Improve Their Biometric Data Protection?

discussion on reputable solutions - Biometric Data Privacy

1. Choose Reputable Providers 

When safeguarding biometric data, selecting trusted providers that employ privacy-preserving technologies is key. Conduct thorough research into their data protection techniques and policies and ensure they comply with the highest levels of industry standards. Some of these companies are using emerging techniques so it is important to understand how the data is preserved, how the systems comply with data residency requirements, what the accuracy rate of their biometrics is, and how they are designed to integrate into your broader identity management system. 

2. Multi-Factor Authentication

To heighten security against unauthorized access, consider coupling biometric data with additional security measures. Many financial institutions, such as banks, utilize this method to fortify security for online banking services. By employing multi-factor authentication, access to biometric data is only granted after successful authentication.

3. Regularly Update Devices and Software

Keep your devices, operating systems, and applications up-to-date with the latest security patches to minimize the presence of malware and other vulnerabilities. 

5. Implement Strong Access Controls

Anonybit’s decentralized biometrics system fundamentally redesigns data storage, eliminating central points of failure. Fragmenting and distributing biometric data across a network inherently mitigates insider threats and data breaches. This approach renders traditional access controls obsolete, as no single entity holds complete data, effectively safeguarding sensitive information without relying on conventional security measures.

6. Educate Users About Security Risks

Raise awareness among users about the protection of biometric data and provide training on identifying and reporting suspicious activities. Tech companies prioritize educating users on the security risks associated with biometric data. They offer training sessions, webinars, and online forums to empower users to take proactive measures to protect their biometric information.

7. Review Privacy Settings Regularly

Regularly review and adjust privacy settings on devices and online accounts to align with security preferences and disable unnecessary features that may pose risks to biometric data. Government agencies and financial institutions routinely review and adjust privacy settings on their systems and databases to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to biometric data.

How Will AI Impact Biometric Data Protection?

AI role in Biometric Data Privacy

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are poised to transform the landscape of biometric data protection in remarkable ways. These innovative technologies offer advantages that will substantially enhance the security and efficiency of biometric systems.

Improved Accuracy and Reliability

Biometric technology can sometimes produce errors or false positives, creating user challenges. Nonetheless, this issue is likely to be resolved as technology advances. AI tools are already being used to refine biometric detection capabilities, accelerating this process and nullifying the possibilities of errors.

Enhanced Security Measures

AI can significantly enhance encryption processes to ensure that biometric data is safe from cyber threats. By employing advanced cryptographic techniques like multiparty computation and zero knowledge proofs, biometric data can be safeguarded both at rest and during transit and prevent even insiders from gaining access. 

Continuous Authentication Systems

AI technology is instrumental in executing dynamic, real-time assessments to detect anomalous activities and adjust authentication processes accordingly. When unusual behavior is identified, the system can request additional verification to ascertain the user’s authorization. Users are also subjected to “biometric” checkpoints where AI systems continuously monitor behavioral patterns for any deviations.

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Book A Free Demo To Learn More About Our Integrated Identity Management Platform

At Anonybit, we help companies prevent data breaches and account takeover fraud with our decentralized biometrics technology. With our decentralized biometrics framework, companies can enable passwordless login, wire verification, step-up authentication, help desk authentication and more. 

Comprehensive Security Solutions for Companies

We aim to protect companies from data breaches, account takeovers and synthetic identity on the rise, privacy regulations, and digital transformation. To achieve this goal, we offer security solutions such as:

  • Secure storage of biometrics and PII data
  • Support for the entire user lifecycle
  • 1:1 authentication and 1:N matching for lookups and deduplication

Balancing Privacy and Security with Anonybit’s Integrated Platform

Anonybit eliminates the tradeoffs between privacy and security. Prevent data breaches, reduce account takeover fraud, and enhance the user experience across the enterprise using Anonybit. Book a free demo today to learn more about our integrated identity management platform.

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