Published on 17 February, 2010
|HB 1409 would prohibit use of biometrics as part of identification cards|
A bill being considered by the New Hampshire legislature that would ban nearly all uses of biometrics is an inappropriate response to privacy concerns that would deprive residents of an important security technology, the Security Industry Association
(SIA) has told state lawmakers.
HB 1409 would prohibit any government agency or private entity from using biometrics as part of identification cards - except for employee identification cards - and from requiring a person "to disclose or provide biometric data as a condition of doing business with, engaging in any business activity or relationship with, or obtaining services from, that agency or entity." Biometric data is defined to include everything from DNA to retinal scans to facial features to fingerprints.
"If this legislation is rushed through the legislative process without careful examination of its potential consequences, New Hampshire residents will be deprived of the benefits of a safe, secure, and efficient technology, and their security will be severely compromised," SIA said in a statement submitted to the New Hampshire House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee for the panel's public hearing on the bill on Tuesday. "SIA firmly believes that the broad restrictions proposed by HB 1409 to prevent government agencies and private businesses from authenticating identities through the use of biometric data reflect a significant misunderstanding of the security features and privacy safeguards of this widely-adopted technology."
SIA proposed that lawmakers scrap the bill and instead conduct a study of the use of biometrics.
"We understand that lawmakers have legitimate concerns about their constituents' privacy, but the fear of biometrics is based on misperceptions," SIA Director of Government Relations Don Erickson said. "This lack of understanding of the technology leads to dangerous bills like this one, which not only would prohibit the use of systems that can enhance security with no loss of privacy but could even prevent private organisations that work with children from collecting fingerprints to do background checks on prospective volunteers. We urge the committee to reject this bill and instead adopt our proposal to conduct a study that would enable them to see the value of biometrics technology."
SIA is scheduled to hold a webinar on privacy issues on Thursday, February 25.