Biometric Privacy Research

DNA Forensics: Expanding Uses and Information Sharing September 2006, SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics,
This report was prepared to inform the broad justice community about the evolution of DNA identification and its expanding uses. The report examines the history of DNA use by forensic investigators, considers the economics of DNA use as it relates to public safety, and reviews privacy concerns relating to the release of an individual’s genetic information. The report explores issues associated with the coupling of criminal history information with DNA data and recommends that mechanisms be put in place that would make for a more efficient justice system while effectively continuing to address privacy concerns. "The report traces some of the history of DNA forensics and speculates about future uses. It is written in a way that minimizes the science while explaining the impact of key developments," said Mr. Owen Greenspan, SEARCH Director of Law and Policy and coauthor of the report. "We strive in the report to strike an appropriate balance between privacy concerns and public safety. We include recommendations that we believe are appropriate for consideration by state-level policymakers that focus on bridging DNA identifications and criminal history records."

Report of the National Focus Group on the Retention of Civil Fingerprints by Criminal History Record Repositories December 17, 2008, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
The benefits and issues associated with fingerprint retention are identified in the SEARCH-authored publication Report of the National Focus Group on the Retention of Civil Fingerprints by Criminal History Record Repositories.

In recent years, criminal record background checks have rapidly expanded to encompass a wide range of noncriminal justice uses, such as licensing and employment screening. Fingerprints submitted for these types of background checks, known as civil or applicant prints, are retained by some state criminal record repositories and used in programs that notify employers should an employee be subsequently arrested (known as a "rap back" or "hit notice" service). In addition, they may be matched against databases of latent fingerprints (those of unknown individuals obtained from crime scenes and other sources). Through these efforts, individuals who pose safety risks are identified and may be removed from sensitive positions or prosecuted for the crimes to which they are connected.

The report—which is based on the Focus Group’s deliberations, related research, and a national survey—examines the civil fingerprint environment and highlights key issues that law- and policymakers should consider if they wish to introduce or support the continued practice of retaining applicant fingerprints after a background check has been completed. The National Focus Group was convened by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics and SEARCH to examine state and federal civil fingerprint retention procedures and to develop a report to inform policymakers about the merits of retaining civil fingerprints and encourage them to expand retention practices while being mindful of privacy and confidentiality protections when and where appropriate.

State-of-the-Art Biometrics Excellence Roadmap (SABER) Technology Assessment – January 13, 2009, Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Biometric Center of Excellence,
The FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence published the results of an independent assessment of biometric technology conducted by the MITRE Corporation, entitled the State-of-the-Art Biometrics Excellence Roadmap (SABER).  The SABER Technology Assessment gauges the maturity of biometric modalities to develop a common baseline understanding for the biometric community and evaluates the potential for expanding the FBI’s Certified Products List as these modalities mature.  The technology assessments are thorough reviews of the state-of-the-art in biometric modalities in three volumes.  From fingerprints to vascular recognition and from applications to vulnerabilities, the tech assessments examine the current state of biometric technologies.  This ten-month assessment involved an extensive survey of the market and industry, biometric technologies, current products, systems, independent performance evaluations, standards, and an overview of select research activities. As we move forward, it is critical to ensure a coordinated effort across our community to effectively harness the benefits of emerging biometric technologies to support our nation’s law enforcement and intelligence missions, while protecting the privacy rights of individuals.  The publication of the SABER Technology Assessment represents part of our information sharing efforts.

The Future of Forensic DNA Testing:  Predictions of the Research and Development Working Group November 2000, National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, a report from the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence,
The principal assignment given to the Research and Development Working Group was to identify the technical advances in the forthcoming decade and to assess the expected impact of these on forensic DNA analysis. The report is divided into a summary and two main sections. The first of these, “Technology, Present and Future,” is in nontechnical language and intended for a general readership. The second, “Appendix, Technical Summaries,” is for those who want more details. Included in this report are discussions on balancing the benefits and risks, notably privacy risks, in the application of these technologies