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Securing personal privacy and deterring identity theft are national priorities. These goals are essential to our democracy and our economy, and inherently important to our citizens. Moreover, failure to achieve these goals is substantially inhibiting the growth of our most advanced, leading-edge industries, notably including e-commerce, that depend upon the integrity of network transactions. Establishing end-to-end trust among all parties to network transactions is the indispensable basis for success. A large percentage of the public are reluctant to engage in e-commerce or conduct other network transactions owing to a well-founded lack of confidence that the system will protect their privacy and prevent their identity from being stolen and misused. The misgivings of the public are reinforced by recent publicized cases of loss of personal privacy, fraudulent funds transfers, and outright theft and abuse of identity in network transactions.

Biometrics, an emerging set of technologies, promise an effective solution. Biometrics accurately identify or verify individuals based upon each person’s unique physical or behavioral characteristics. Biometrics work by unobtrusively matching patterns of live individuals in real time against enrolled records. Leading examples are biometric technologies that recognize and authenticate faces, hands, fingers, signatures, irises, voices, and fingerprints.

Biometric data are separate and distinct from personal information. Biometric templates cannot be reverse-engineered to recreate personal information and they cannot be stolen and used to access personal information. Precisely because of these inherent attributes, biometrics are effective means to secure privacy and deter identity theft.

tbf@biometricfoundation.org