On Thursday January the 10th we hosted the first #biometricchat tweet chat of 2013. The topic was biometrics and privacy and our guest was Shaun Dakin, a privacy expert and the man responsible for establishing the National Political Do Not Call Registry as well as writing several op-ed pieces including this one for the Washngton Post calling for a Privacy Bill of Rights for voters. Shaun was gracious enough to lend his time for our chat to discuss his thoughts on the current issues that privacy advocates are concerned about and his opinions on biometric technology’s affect on privacy.
For a copy of the Storify chat transcript please click here.
Here is a list of the questions that we asked Shaun during the chat:
- Can you bring us up to speed on what privacy advocates currently feel is the most pressing privacy issue of our time? What technology has the most disastrous impact on privacy?
- Is privacy primarily a cultural, contractual, or technological issue?
- What is the more appropriate, effective, and desirable approach – educating the public on privacy or lobbying the government to pass laws protecting it?
- Ireland recommends using a “Privacy by Design” system which encourages proactively embedding privacy design into biometric technology. Should this type of approach be used in the U.S.?
- Does a “Privacy Impact Assessment” (see http://www.planetbiometrics.com/article-details/i/1412/) carry any weight with advocates as a necessary tool in constructing a privacy friendly biometrics identification solution?
- On the scale of existing threats to privacy, where does biometrics fit in and what steps can the biometrics industry take to promote and encourage privacy friendly solutions?
- Biometrics is often viewed as a “privacy protector” in that it can prevent identity fraud, which is becoming an epidemic of global proportions. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Shaun felt that the biggest privacy story of 2012 was the increasing power of the government to search electronic communications directly stemming from the David Petraeus CIA scandal case. He went on to say that privacy seems to be a generational phenomenon, and younger generations very willing to give up their privacy in exchange for something else. he expected to see privacy norms stretched way beyond where we are and government surveillance slowly is becoming the privacy hot topic of our times.
Shaun went on to say that he believes there should be some sort of baseline privacy legislation in the U.S. “with teeth.” He also reminded us that in the last session of Congress there were over 21 pieces of privacy legislation introduced but none of them passed. Shaun agreed that the “Privacy by Design” concept which proactively encourages embedding privacy designs into biometric systems is a good idea on paper, but tough to implement in reality. He pointed out that most developers don’t think about privacy as a necessary step for design, instead they justifiably place their focus on revenue and number of users.
We rounded out the chat discussion by getting Shaun’s thoughts on where biometrics stood on the scale of existing threats to privacy and he said that currently biometrics is still not top of mind with the public but with the recent announcement by Disney that they would be using RFID bracelets stored with personal information in their parks, perhaps public conscience may change plus this may be an opportune time for Disney as a major brand to affect some change in the industry.
Please join us in thanking Shaun for his time on the chat on privacy and biometrics and for everyone who participated! Look for the announcement of February’s #biometricchat topic sometime in the next couple of weeks.
Please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an idea for a topic. Thank you!