Because of its ever-changing existence, it has become exceedingly difficult to assign definite moral codes of conduct to the field of computer expertise (Floridi, 2010). Computing creates an entirely new collection of problems that are all their own. Disputed product rights, the use of computers to commit frauds, hacking, and data theft are just a few of the issues that may arise in this area. These concerns raise a whole new set of moral questions, such as whether copying software is a form of stealing or whether the data stored on an individual’s computer constitutes an unacceptably intrusive infringement of privacy (Floridi, 2010). These queries demands for ethical procedures and guidelines because without that these areas can become entirely black. The objective of this paper is to focus on Biometrics as an ethical issue of a computer through highlighting various implementations and the ethical as well as the privacy issues related to the use of biometrics.
Application of Biometrics
Biometrics forms exclusive physical features like fingerprints that can be applied in automated recognition technology. Biometrics is mostly used to discover and avert unlawful entry of immigrants in the countries such as the United States hence administering proper immigration benefits as well as facilitating legitimate trade and travel (Jain & Kumar, 2012). The concept of biometrics helps various government agencies to share critical data using cutting-edge data filtering and confidentiality measures to support security and integrity missions. Examples of biometrics application also include Iris recognition in the airports as part of an effort to streamline boarding and security processes. Another area that biometric is applied is in the internet banking.
Banks contract with Application Service Providers (ASP) to offer biometric verification for a high-value transaction over the web. It is not a secret that biometrics can cut down administrative costs while advancing security through access control methods that are unique. A high percentage of British companies suffered security breaches in the past few years due to inadequate access controls. However, the businesses that had already installed biometrics systems in place were able to contain security breaches issues (Campisi, 2013).
Ethical and Privacy Issues in Biometrics
Most people see biometrics as invasive and overrunning their space, rights, and dignity. Individuals will at times feel embarrassed and untrustworthy hence making them feel dehumanized (Campisi, 2013). Similarly, people feel threatened by fraud and threat of identity in that there is a possibility of having their information accessed by other people such as hackers and disgruntled workers. There are some concerns that biometric systems can be spoofed by using fake biometric data like fake fingerprints, facial images and retina scans that have the capability to fool the input device that is used to feed data. Despite the reason that this type of hack is conceivable, biometrics systems are infrequently susceptible to this hacking an indication that tampering with data is hard but again not unmanageable in biometrics. Moreover, there are assertions that the technology has just realized the limited competence to recognize a particular person positively. There has been a continuing debate on whether the biometrics devices are technically accurate, foolproof and reliable (Campisi, 2013).
Biometrics tends to encroach on people’s privacy when compared to other computing technologies. The more the private life of individuals is invaded the more it becomes less protected. It, therefore, suggests that biometrics has a potential of misuse that can lead to being unethical unless proper measures and guidelines are put in place (Jain & Kumar, 2012). Individuals can decide not to put their fingers on the fingerprint scanners for dread of contracting an illness or incapable to do so since long fingernails are extremely esteemed by his or her community class. Likewise, some individuals may evade the photos taken for the purpose of face recognition because of the concern of how the pictures will be used. In such cases, the performance of the system will be compromised owing to the fear that the system is intruding to a personal and private life of such people extensively. One cannot deny that biometrics provides unprecedented opportunities to empower individuals; however, the technology poses negative impacts by human rights (Jain & Kumar, 2012).
The negative consequences are particularly evident in the deployment of the technology because it has to remain unregulated by laws that relate to the protection of personal data as well as privacy (Sutrop, 2010). Most firms using biometrics fail to incorporate data and privacy protection standards in their procedures. Various players in technology industries especially in biometrics have been unable to conduct risk assessment hence indicating that threats to privacy have not been identified and are therefore not be prevented or mitigated. The void, therefore, permits human rights violations that directly deny people their autonomy, fundamental freedoms and their identity in extreme situations (Sutrop, 2010). For instance, the use of biometrics for identification purposes for immigrants indicates that in the case of misidentification during the process can compromise their fundamental right to seek asylum if they are identified for already having had their asylum entitlement rejected. Similarly, a recent leak of personal data witnessed by biometric electorate registration role is another warning that the moral claims and concerns are real and a biometric technology that is poorly coordinated is likely to have disastrous effects on the privacy of people as well as the protection of their data (Sutrop, 2010).
Protecting Privacy and Ethical Issues in Biometrics
It is important to note that it is the privacy issue that the question of ethics will arise. Avoiding possible issues in ethics and privacy calls for consideration of opportunities to minimize the possible adverse effects due to unethical conduct and privacy infringement (Jain & Kumar, 2012). Relevant players must include privacy at the center of any decision to utilize biometric technologies to reduce the risks fraud, and function creeps as and securing digital infrastructures that store the data as well as developing the culture of accountability. Relevant organizations should also establish standards around the use of biometrics specifically to address the challenges and risks emerging from the use of such technologies around the globe (Campisi, 2013).
The paper does not intend to discredit biometric technology or the possible potential advantages affiliated with it, but to only raise awareness of its risks and the measures that need to be taken to avert ethical and privacy challenges. It is essential for deployment and storage of biometric data to be regulated to cut down the prevalence of ethical issues in biometrics. Countries need to amend their privacy laws so as to include biometrics data under the definition of personal and private information. It is because slightest breach of the private life of an individual can lead to public denial of biometrics (Floridi, 2010). However, it is vital to admit that the technology presents numerous advantages about security hence the only thing that needs to be worked on is ethical and privacy issues.
Campisi, P. (2013). Security and Privacy in Biometrics (Vol. 24). London: Springer.
Floridi, L. (Ed.). (2010). The Cambridge handbook of information and computer ethics. Cambridge University Press.
Jain, A. K., & Kumar, A. (2012). Biometric recognition: an overview. In Second generation biometrics: The ethical, legal and social context (pp. 49-79). Springer Netherlands.
Sutrop, M. (2010). Ethical issues in governing biometric technologies. Ethics and Policy of Biometrics, 102-114.