Biometrics in the Humanitarian Sector

Publication date

05 Apr 2018

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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.

There are concerns that gathering this sensitive data could put refugees at risk, if the data got into the hands of their persecutors.

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