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The Future of Biometric Technologies and Data

On 28 March 2006, An Iraqi recruit, gets processed through the Biometric Automated Tool Set System before leaving for boot camp at the Recuiting Station, Fallujah, Iraq. Regimental Combat Team 5 is deployed with I MEF (FWD) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq (MNF-W) to develop the Iraqi Security Forces, facilitate the development os official rule of law through democratic government reforms, and continue the development of a market based economy centered on Iraqi Reconstruction. (Official USMC photograph taken by Cpl Spencer M. Murphy). 060328-M-9174M-009 (RELEASED)

Just like any other technology in the world, biometric technology has its own set of problems. There are people within the biometric industry working night and day to overcome these problems with solid solutions, but they are not always easy to come by. They can require many thousands of hours in testing and could even result in major multimillion dollar lawsuits. The lawsuits can last many months, even years and will put everything at a standstill.

Most people understand that like any other technology, biometrics can be hacked into. But, what they don’t realize is that there not even legally entitled to their own fingerprints. Did you know that? Most people don’t. We will be going over the American laws regarding fingerprints and other biometric data. It is important that you understand the laws and what they can and can’t do for you and act accordingly.

Much like Americans take their 2nd Amendment rights in the United States seriously; you should be taking your 1st Amendment and 5th Amendment rights very seriously.

The legalities surrounding biometric data

Unlike passwords, which are considered knowledge in the United States, your biometric data like your fingerprints is not protected by the 5th Amendment. For anybody who doesn’t know what the Fifth Amendment is, take a quick look:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

If you read the whole piece, and you are still unsure what it means, it means that by law you are allowed to “Plead the Fifth.” Any kind of information about yourself that may incriminate you, you’re not required to share in the United States.

Unfortunately, as said earlier biometric data is not considered knowledge. This means that they can force your fingerprints or any other kind of data that verifies your identity without your consent.

Essentially, unlike a password or a PIN number, your fingerprint is not something you know, it is something you are. This basically means that you have no 5th Amendment right to your biometric data. They can and may force you to share your biometric data, whoever may be looking for it.

There are people arguing that biometric data should be as equally protected as things like passwords or any other kind of incriminating knowledge. Of course, it is a work in progress and has not been put through law yet. It may be years before this happens.

You have no 5th Amendment rights at border crossings going into or out of the United States and very rarely do you have these rights in foreign countries. This can be difficult to grasp.

Basically, it means that the government can collect data about you. Specifically, biometric data without your explicit permission and consent. So there may be files dedicated to your biometric characteristics within a government database. Not only that but if you entered a foreign country lately they may have collected biometric data about you.

How do you keep yourself safe?

There is not a whole lot of new information out there on how to keep yourself protected. It is the standard practices of making sure you have secure passwords, use secure web browsing and do not take anything sensitive over borders.

We recommend that you use biometric unlocking as your second in line unlocking for all of your devices. For things like your iPhone or any other smart phones, you should be using passcodes at all times. As easy as fingerprint scanning really is, it can open up a whole new world for the hackers in this world looking to gain access to your data. If somebody wants to gain access to your phone of the border, and your phone is protected by passcode and not your fingerprint, they cannot legally get inside of your phone.

However, if they do request access to your phone and your phone is only secured by fingerprint that they can legally force you to unlock your phone. They can also use this against you to unlock a gun safe that has biometric locks on it if they suspect you are hiding something illegal.

Don’t be naive with your data

This point is something that more people need to take seriously. If you’re not taking your own data and privacy seriously, people will take advantage of that.

There is often a quote people use and it goes, “why do I need to keep myself private if I do not do anything bad?” The answer to that is, greedy and corrupt corporations, as well as governments from around the world that you do not trust, can take your data and use it against you. They can use it to extort money out of you and an array of other evil things.

One of the matters that you should always be taking your privacy seriously and doing whatever he can to protect your data. Always make sure you are reading online and try your best to keep up-to-date with the latest privacy info.