‘Must-Know’ Points about Fingerprint Biometrics for Attendance and Security

Fingerprint biometrics system identifies a person based on their fingerprint. Such systems are being used for attendance and security purposes in commercial and industrial establishments for many years now. However, there are some aspects that every user should know. These are briefly detailed below:

Any biometrics system to be used for attendance or security purposes has some legal implications that come along with its purchase and use. They are enumerated below:

  1. The organization needs to maintain a privacy policy as regards the collection and disclosure of sensitive information (fingerprints).
  • The policy should be written out and easily accessible
  • The type of data being collected should be declared
  • The purpose of collection should be stated
  • Security practices and procedures should be reasonable and disclosed
  • Policy as regards disclosure should be clear

Prior to collecting fingerprints, the individual must be made aware of the following points:

  • That the fingerprints are being collected
  • The reason why fingerprints are collected
  • Who receives this information
  • The address and name of the organization collecting and retaining the information

Prior to collecting the fingerprints the individual should be informed that:

  • It is optional to give the information
  • Consent for using the fingerprint can be withdrawn at any point in time
  1. The user of the biometrics system should be aware that a person’s fingerprints are liable to change over a period of time. Ageing of the person or a cut on the finger can cause the fingerprint to change. The system uses a pattern identification process to associate a person with a fingerprint. It is also true that fingerprints of the same person appear different on different devices.
  1. Biometric systems may not work the way it should for blue-collared workers. This is because puffy skin or split skin disturbs the fingerprint patterns. Thus manual labour tends to alter the fingerprints of such workers. The initial fingerprints may therefore not match the fingerprints taken after a few years. This makes the biometric identification invalid for that individual.
  1. Magnetic fields can alter the functions of biometric systems. Being an electronic system, the biometrics device can behave strangely when under the influence of a magnetic field. Placing a magnet under the biometrics identification device can alter its working and hence its integrity will be at stake.

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