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Biometrics in the Humanitarian Sector

Biometrics in the Humanitarian Sector
22 pages

Rahman, Zara
Verhaert, Paola
Nyst, Carly

Kondakhchyan, Anna

Publication date
05 Apr 2018

The Engine Room

Research report

Biometrics is the measurement of human characteristics through technology such as iris scanning, facial recognition and fingerprint scanning. In the aid sector, supporters of the technology praise its potential to combat fraud and streamline service delivery in low-resource settings, while others point to the significant risks to privacy resulting from collecting and storing this personal information.

This report was commissioned by Oxfam to help it consider the possibility of introducing secure, ethical and cost-effective use of biometric technology in its programmes in the future. The report looks at the external context around use of biometric technology in the humanitarian sector, considers the benefits and potential harm, and goes on to outline cases where the use of biometrics could be helpful.