Biometrics at the Frontiers: Assessing the Impact on Society

In spring 2004, the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament asked DG JRC to carry out a prospective study on the impact of biometric technologies. The study kick-off meeting took place in Brussels the following July with a view to delivering a final report early in 2005. The present report constitutes that deliverable. The prospective approach has led to one of the main messages of the study: that biometric-based identification will proliferate in society, extending from initial government use to civil and commercial applications, and that this proliferation will have a profound impact on society. The authors try to assess the long-term implications of this so-called ‘diffusion effect’ and suggest policy initiatives that might minimise any negative impacts. The aim of this report is to examine some of the issues raised by the large-scale implementation of biometrics so as to help enhance the quality of informed decision-making at the European level. In order to achieve this, four scenarios have been designed to depict a future society where biometrics are used in many different ways. The scenarios represent likely applications of biometric technologies rather than a prediction of possible outcomes. They aim to stimulate discussion and raise awareness about the emerging issues. The report also attempts to address the current lack of data and research by considering the social, legal, economic and technological challenges and analysing in depth four biometric technologies - face, fingerprint, iris and DNA. The report concludes by identifying a number of issues that policymakers need to address.

  • Record URL:
  • Corporate Authors:

    European Commission

    Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, Rue de la Loi 200
    B-1049 Brussels,   Belgium 
  • Authors:
    • Maghiros, Ioannis
    • Punie, Yves
    • Delaitre, Sabine
    • Lignos, Elsa
    • Rodriguez, Carlos
    • Ulbrich, Martin
    • Cabrera, Marcelino
  • Publication Date: 2005


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Glossary; References;
  • Pagination: 166p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01010900
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: EUR 21585 EN
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 28 2005 3:02PM