SIA Opposes Alaska Biometrics Bill

Legislation that would sharply restrict the use of biometric technology in Alaska would have unintended negative consequences and “ultimately result in the use of less secure identity solutions,” the Security Industry Association (SIA) warned in a letter to the bill sponsor.

The bill (SB 190) from Alaska State Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-District J) mandates that “A person may not retain or analyze, or disclose or distribute to another person, biometric information on an individual without first obtaining the informed and written consent of the individual.” (Law enforcement and other parties authorized by state or federal law would be excluded.) Biometric data is defined to include fingerprints, handprints, voices, facial images, iris images and retinal images. Violators would be liable for actual damages and civil penalties of as much as $100,000.

SIA CEO Richard Chace noted in the letter to Wielechowski that the federal government is implementing an identity management program that relies on biometric technology and argued that biometrics are an important security tool that “answers the question, ‘Are you who you say you are?’”

“Biometrics provide an effective measure against fraud and identity theft in applications as diverse as personal access to buildings/computers, banking security, business-to-business transactions and ecommerce,” the letter stated.

Chace also stressed that the association and its members are committed to developing security solutions that protect personal information and ensure privacy and said that they “are in the final stages of developing a framework that will help educate policymakers, consumers and industry stakeholders on technology and privacy related issues.”

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