Biometric ID Cybersurveillance

84 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2012 Last revised: 26 Jun 2013

Date Written: June 26, 2013


The implementation of a universal digitalized biometric ID system risks normalizing and integrating mass cybersurveillance into the daily lives of ordinary citizens. ID documents such as driver’s licenses in some states and all U.S. passports are now implanted with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. In recent proposals, Congress has considered implementing a digitalized biometric identification card — such as a biometric-based, “high-tech” Social Security Card — which may eventually lead to the development of a universal multimodal biometric database (e.g., the collection of the digital photos, fingerprints, iris scans, and/or DNA of all citizens and noncitizens). Such “hightech” IDs, once merged with GPS-RFID tracking technology, would facilitate exponentially a convergence of cybersurveillance-body tracking and data surveillance, or dataveillance-biographical tracking. Yet, the existing Fourth Amendment jurisprudence is tethered to a “reasonable expectation of privacy” test that does not appear to restrain the comprehensive, suspicionless amassing of databases that concern the biometric data, movements, activities, and other personally identifiable information of individuals.

In this Article, I initiate a project to explore the constitutional and other legal consequences of big data cybersurveillance generally and mass biometric dataveillance in particular. This Article focuses on how biometric data is increasingly incorporated into identity management systems through bureaucratized cybersurveillance or the normalization of cybersurveillance through the daily course of business and integrated forms of governance.

Suggested Citation

Hu, Margaret, Biometric ID Cybersurveillance (June 26, 2013). Indiana Law Journal, Vol. 88, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Margaret Hu (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

Williamsburg, VA
United States

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