Biometric Technology: The Impact on Privacy

51 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2005

Date Written: 2005


The introduction of biometric technology has resulted in a significant shift, which defies tradition and some of the very values that we cherish as a society. Additionally, there have been numerous recent developments, which have facilitated a fundamental global re-assessment of the safety and security needs of our communities. Other challenges, like the delivery of government-granted social services, have resulted in governments looking for ways to ensure entitlement prior to the provision of finite resources to individuals.

As technology is increasing in sophistication, it is being deployed in novel and creative ways to meet some of these new demands. However, where technology collides with individual rights and freedoms, we are required to examine the utilization of technologies to determine whether the use is proportionate to the alleged benefits. We are similarly compelled to decide whether there are less intrusive means to achieving the stated ends. This inquiry is even more relevant in the face of the new, seemingly global employment of biometric technology and the rationale behind governments developing dependence on this new machinery.

This paper will examine (i) what biometric technology is; (ii) why it has become so popular; (iii) how biometric technology is being applied in every day use; and, (iv) the advantages and disadvantages of biometric technology. This assessment will occur in the context of the impact that this new technology is having on privacy and the privacy rights of individuals.

Keywords: biometrics, privacy, globalization

JEL Classification: K10, K33

Suggested Citation

Sherman, Darcie, Biometric Technology: The Impact on Privacy (2005). CLPE Research Paper No. 5. Available at SSRN: or

Darcie Sherman (Contact Author)

London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
416-987-6212 (Phone)

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