Biometrics angers privacy advocates
Frank Petro, CEO, InnoVentry, and Dorothy Ehrlich, director, ACLU Northern California
The New Jersey-based company said the live scan technology, dubbed FingerPrinter CMS, eliminates the hassle of using ink to capture fingerprints. The technology prints and transmits fingerprints electronically based on the use of biometrics, which are methods of identifying people based on physical or behavioral characteristics. Such biometric technologies include face recognition, fingerprints, voice and signature.
The company said the system will enable the Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) to conduct background checks by capturing fingerprints of applicants and then transmitting the images to the ABI. The images will be searched against the state Automated Fingerprint Identification System database.
The announcement comes as law enforcement is aggressively experimenting with biometrics amid criticism from privacy advocates that such technology is too invasive, allowing government to take on the role of Big Brother. For example, in the last Super Bowl, law enforcement officials used biometrics technology that captured images of people entering the football stadium and compared them with a database of the faces of wanted criminals.
Airport officials and airline companies are also testing biometrics technology to speed up the process of checking in travelers. EyeTicket and the International Air Transport Association said it is using a technology that identifies people by the pattern of their irises. The pattern is then translated into a passport number or a frequent-flier number so that the airport and airline computers can identify the passenger.
Visionics said it received an order for 30 live scan systems to the ABI. The FingerPrinter, according to Visionics, will enable Alabama's jails and courthouses to submit fingerprint and demographic records electronically so they can be in compliance with recent law passed by the state legislature that mandates agencies perform criminal background checks on job applicants.
"Visionics is pleased to be working with the Alabama Bureau of Investigation in meeting its requirements in this area," Joseph Atick, chief executive of Visionics, said in a statement. "We remain committed to delivering superior systems to this market, ensuring that the civil sector comply with federally mandated background checks on its employees."