June 1, 2022 |

Han Santos Legal Team Commentary on Privacy News: Digital IDs and Facial Recognition

In our recent privacy news roundups, we posted 2 breakthrough stories about how biometric technology will impact the lives of most Americans:

While digitizing driver's licenses and expediting the airport check-in process have the potential to make life easier, they bring about major privacy concerns. We asked Donna McPartland, Of Counsel and a lead member of our privacy team, and Allie Russell, Associate Attorney, to give us their insight into these new developments.

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What is your reaction to states and the TSA using biometrics in this way?

This is an interesting development to provide identity verification more easily.

Digital verification helps make things more efficient, but obviously there's privacy and security concerns here. I would be concerned about what Apple is doing to keep the data private and make sure it is stored securely.

It's only a few states at this point, so it will be interesting to see if it takes off in other states. And then if other industries would be able to leverage that. We are seeing more activity and initiatives by all types of companies for ID verification.

Identity verification is an issue in the testing industry, especially for high stakes exams (such as the SATs). You need to prove your identity at various points, when you're registering and when you're sitting for the exam.

This is interesting from a privacy standpoint because of the use of biometrics, but the concept of a digital ID without biometrics is one that has been of growing interest, one such example is TruAge verification. When it’s all anonymized or de-identified data, it then renders it no longer classified as personal information and therefore it is not subject to certain privacy laws.

Another big problem is industry adoption.

What issues would occur with industry adoption?

For example, in retail, you need to have an extra piece of equipment to read the digital identity recognition and integrate it into a point of sale system. Considering that, this is not only an integration problem with acceptance issues from the retail industry, but also potentially an age verification issue for age restricted or quantity restricted products.

Do you think it’s potentially more secure?

Potentially this is the way that we can actually be more secure, privacy wise. There's only a couple of pieces of information being collected and it's possibly de-identified rather than your traditional way of handing over your driver's license for the world to see.

There are privacy issues, but could it possibly be more secure.

There was major controversy when airports implemented the full body scan. Do you think there will be high skepticism or that people will see the benefit of saving time?

Yes, I think it's an issue. I would cite the recent example of the IRS announcing that they were going to require facial recognition for verification to login to the website.

Now they've scrapped it entirely because of the opposition to it because of privacy and security concerns. To my understanding, it is a pilot program - so they have an easy out.

The flip side though is that many airports use the expedited check in program, Clear. A lot of people are enrolled in that and that uses biometrics. However, there's a lot more attention to the IRS issue, so it remains to be seen. I think the opposition is only going to grow.

Do you see that opposition coming from people wanting the option of choice? Clear is a private company, so perhaps people feel like they can choose who has their information and how much they want to pay for the service and the associated convenience.

Yes, I think where you have seen prohibitions, especially on facial recognition, has been the use by governments. So I think you will continue to see more pushback.

Does your company need guidance about biometrics?

The Han Santos privacy group has extensive experience working with biometric technology.

We understand the privacy and security issues related to facial recognition, identity verification, data protection, and more. As privacy laws adapt at a similarly rapid pace as evolving technology, we can help you navigate the complexities and minimize risk. Feel free to reach out to us and we can help you structure your biometric program and privacy policies.


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