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Biometrics wins favour from the lazy

Can you just implant a chip in me now?

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Users worldwide are starting to accept biometrics, and even chip implants, out of laziness. The desire for an easy life is over-riding privacy concerns, according to a global survey.

There has been a five percent increase in people who favour the use of biometrics as a preferred method of identity verification, according to a survey of 1661 people worldwide by Unisys. Some 10 percent of individuals in the Asia-Pacific region would even prefer a chip implanted in their body.

Convenience, according to 83 percent of respondents, was the main reason for using biometrics on a smartcard and three quarters said speedy verification is the main driver for biometric adoption, despite concerns from some privacy activists, and some security experts who believe biometric systems may be less secure.

North American had the highest support for biometrics (71 percent) followed by Europe (69 percent). The Asia-Pacific region including Korea, Taiwan and Japan had approval from 68 percent of respondents.

Terry Hartmann, Unisys' director of secure identification and biometrics, said the research is revealing because many people seem to question biometric adoption due to legitimate privacy concerns.

"Despite some geographical and cultural differences with certain specifics of the technologies, overall as more and more people learn about biometrics, convenience seems to outweigh other concerns," Hartmann said.

"Systems developers and owners must address those concerns so that these technologies can move towards the mainstream on a large scale, with appropriate protection and sensitivity."

Frost & Sullivan security analyst James Turner said while speed of identity verification may be driving people's acceptance of biometrics, the key issue is that biometrics can be a security block, rather than an enabler.

Turner added that what is more important in the smartcard debate is ratifying exactly where the identification data is stored.

"A faster and less frustrating security procedure, like using biometrics, would offer less resistance," Turner said.

"Smartcards or national identity cards will go ahead, but we need to talk about implementation, who can access the data and which government department will be in control of the repository, will the government then privatise that group or outsource. We need these issues resolved before we can move forward."


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