by Michael Goldberg

Does Biometrics Work? NIST Will Find Out

Jul 01, 20021 min

Software designed to root out bad guys by analyzing a person’s face has generated controversy over its possible impact on individual privacy rights. As part of the antiterrorism Patriot Act, the government is going to find out this summer whether there’s anything for civil libertarians to worry about it. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md., is inviting software vendors (there are about 70) to participate in the tests. Government scientists will use the software to analyze still images to see how many false positives show up, says spokesman Philip Bulman. The testing bed: 6 million still images provided by the State Department.

NIST is slated to tell Congress in October which biometrics products, if any, work as advertised.