Biometrics Applications: Technology, Ethics, and Health HazardsView this Special Issue
Biometrics, e-Identity, and the Balance between Security and Privacy: Case Study of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) System
The implementation of biometrics entails either the establishment of an identity or tracing a person's identity. Biometric passport data (e.g., irises, fingers, faces) can be used in order to verify a passenger's identity. The proposed Passenger Name Record (PNR) system contains all the information necessary to enable reservations to be processed and controlled by the booking and participating air carriers for each journey booked by or on behalf of any person. PNR data are related to travel movements, usually flights, and include passport data, name, address, telephone numbers, travel agent, credit card number, history of changes in the flight schedule, seat preferences, and other information. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, a new emergency political-law status of society was established: the continuous state of “war” against the so-called unlawful combatants of the “enemy”. Officially, the enemy is the terrorists, but the victims of the privacy invasions caused by the above new form of data processing are the civilians. The data processing based on biometrics is covered both by Directive 95/46 EC and Article 8 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (now the European Convention on Human Rights, “ECHR”). According to Article 2, Paragraph a of the above Directive, personal data shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person; an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his/her physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural, or social identity.