While biometrics technology based on an individual’s unique features such as fingerprint, iris, face, voice, and gait, etc. has been used to improve convenience and effectiveness and enhance security in a variety of fields, there is also a growing awareness of personal data collection, and misuse and disclosure of collected data. In order to seek a balance between the benefits and drawbacks of biometrics technology, public perceptions on the technology should be examined.
According to the result of our interview (one-on-one based) with 1,200 participants aged over 20 who live in Korea except Jeju-do, conducted between 3rd and 26th September, 2014, while 488 people who have used a system based on biometrics technology reported to have found it convenient, 70% of the respondents were concerned of system malfunction, and disclosure and misuse of biometrics information. Ninety percent of the respondents found the system effective, reporting that fingerprints stored in a database are contributive to crime investigation, and 60% of the respondents agreed that different types of biometrics information including fingerprints should be subject to management of government authorities for solving crime cases. Moreover, a half of the respondents agreed with the idea that the new national identification card which is to contain different types of biometrics information including fingerprints should be implemented. In regard to the use of biometrics information, the largest number of the respondents supported that biometrics information should be used to check foreigners’ identification at an entry of Korea, and they are also supportive of the registration of fingerprints in dealing with missing children cases and criminal justice agencies’ access to suspects’ dental history for crime investigation.
As we seek a way to utilise biometrics technology for criminal justice policy, on the basis of the result of the examination of public perceptions on biometric technology, our suggestions for the public and private sectors in relation to immigration management, crime investigation, and national identification card are as follows:
First, in the field of immigration management, the Immigration Office of Korea has established IBMS (Integrated Border Management System) for secure border management and effective administration. Biometrics information is also used for APRS (Automated Passport Recognition System), SES (Smart Entry Service), and ICRM (Immigration Custom Relation Management), and the Constitutional Court of Korea ruled recently that the collection and retention of fingerprints and DNA samples do not violate the Constitution, weighing the benefits of biometrics information. However, there is, still, an issue of privacy infringement. In order to observe the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and the principle of proportionality while utilising biometrics information at the same time, first, the range of information which is to be contained in an electronic passport should be adjusted. Regarding this, it is reasonable to have excluded fingerprint from the information stored in the passport but it is equally important to delete citizens’ registration number for identification, in consideration of the potential risk of personal information disclosure, especially in abroad. Second, in the light of the provisions under the Digital Signature Act and Electronic Government Act, a new set of provisions about the establishment and management of an electronic authentication system for passport should be spelt in detail in the Passport Act. Third, a new provision that regulates misuse and disclosure of data which are collected under the Immigration Control Law should be spelt in the Immigration Control Law, and falsification of a passport should also be subject to punishment under the same law. In addition, there needs to be an international measure to protect individuals’ personal data regardless of nationality, and the issues of the enhancement of privacy with biometrics technology and the establishment of an inspection body to manage biometrics information should also be addressed in legal and practical terms.
Second, in the field of crime investigation, biometrics technology has been in active use to improve the effectiveness of investigation and ensure the collection of scientific evidence.When a DNA sample is taken from a criminal suspect, a warrant is required in principle. There is a provision under the Enforcement Regulation of Crime Investigation of the Korean National Police Agency. The provision requires the police to establish a set of identification documents including fingerprints and photos of a suspect when they arrest or detain the suspect. However, the provision is merely a part of administration rules and, thus, a warrant should be issued under the Criminal Procedure Law. In case that a person subject to DNA sample collection gives a consent to the police who do not have a warrant, a provision permitting the police to collect a DNA sample from the consenter should be included in the Criminal Procedure Law. Also, a range of biometrics identifiers should be used to improve the efficiency of crime investigation so it is necessary to store additional biometrics information such as palm prints, and three-dimensional facial information, etc. in AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) which have already been established. It is also suggested that a portable device which scans the fingerprint and face of a criminal be developed to increase the effectiveness and convenience in crime investigation.
Third, the purpose of the National ID Project is to identify individual citizens, establish a database to verify citizens, and provide administration service - education, health insurance, employment, issuance of passport and visa, pension, and registration for electorship, etc. - with fairness and justice for citizens, thereby improving the standard of living of citizens. The project also pursues crime prevention at the same time such as identity theft or terrorism. A number of countries such as France, Indonesia, and India, etc. have introduced the national biometrics ID card to identify their citizens, which has the confidentiality of information, security, and durability, and the U.S. and the U.K. are now taking steps to introduce the ID card. There has been, however, a concern on the centralisation of personal information stored in a database, which might possibly infringe on citizens’ privacy, and a growing voice for an appropriate measure to protect personal data from being mis(ab)used. The Korean government is taking steps to introduce the electronic identification system for the purpose of preventing the falsification of identification and enhancement of personal information protection. Thus, the introduction of the ID card must be based on a national consensus of the public and a deliberative process of examining the risk factors such as the centralised database, personal data disclosure, mis(ab)use of data, and human rights impingement, etc.
Fourth, the use of biometrics information, especially fingerprint, has proliferated in an array of public sectors; automatic issuance of civil documents, issuance system of the certificate of personal seal impression based on fingerprint recognition technology, driver’s licence test with fingerprint recognition - all of which are introduced for preventing the falsification of identification -, and registration system of fingerprint for dealing with missing children cases, electronic bidding system with fingerprint recognition for preventing proxy bidding and price fixing, and identification system based on fingerprint recognition for early voting. However, with the exception of the registration system of fingerprint for dealing with missing children cases, biometrics information is used for all the systems above without clear legal provisions, thereby no clear criteria for the collection, management, and deletion of biometrics information. Thus, a set of specific criteria for the use of biometrics information should be established in law.
Lastly, the issues of human rights infringement and disclosure of personal information in private sectors are, rather, diluted in comparison with those in public sectors, due to the limited use of biometrics information in private sectors. It should be noted that due to the limited use in private sectors, the issues might remain ‘under the radar’ of the regulations on the collection, management, and deletion of biometrics information. According to the survey in this report, it is found that the respondents are most concerned on the abuse and disclosure of biometrics information in private sectors. Thus, we should be aware that the use of biometrics data as sensitive personal information in private sectors - even in the cases based on a contract in private sectors - might encroach on the right to self-determination and the principle of proportionality.