Biometric data are about personal integrity

Over and over again, our biometric data – unique characteristics of our body – are being collected by institutions and companies. That may become quite dangerous for the integrity of us as a person.

Change your password regularly is one good piece of advice in the online world. Indeed, stolen passwords are worth nothing if you change them.

However, when body characteristics become passwords, changing them is not possible. Many computers and smartphones allow access with fingerprint, voice, or face recognition. That feels safe, because each is unique. Access to some labs is impossible without an iris scan. As long as the biometric data remain in the device, there is not a big problem.

Public authorities know our face. The picture on the ID-card or passport is being stored – somewhere – to produce the card or the passport. In Belgium since the end of 2020, it is mandatory to give two fingerprints at the renewal of the ID-card. Facial recognition is being deployed on a massive scale by police and law enforcement. Some institutions and companies dream about scanning the iris e.g. in airports because it is more accurate and unique than fingerprints and faces. Amazon, Apple, and Google know the voice of the users through their home assistants. Voice patterns for sure end up in their databases – the same way they store anything else they can put their hands on. And of course, authorities are interested in DNA, not just of criminals, but of every person.

Face, fingerprints, iris, voice, DNA. Don´t count me in. For all the possibilities within my reach, I will not give them willingly.

Security, crime fighting – that is the sales pitch.

In that rhetoric, you never hear about the loss of integrity.

In these plans and projects, you never hear about the slippery slope towards totalitarian surveillance.

You never hear them say that we become suspects by default. De foundation of the rule of law is being turned upside down. Instead of innocent until guilt is proven, we are turned into suspects until innocence is proven.

That is what this blog is about.

The right to be forgotten. The right to be innocent. The right to own our data.

The right to our personal integrity.

To be continued.