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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

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Wednesday, May 16 • 17:15 - 18:15
Fingerprint on the pulse: Challenging the lack of privacy protections for biometric data.

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Entities all over the world are adopting the use of biometric technology for an array of purposes like identification, electoral registries and policing, amongst others. A significant number of those entities are in states that do not have sufficient data protection laws. This means that this data is collected, is shared and further processed by various public and private entities, without subjecting them to any regulations which normally require them to protect the data throughout its lifecycle and respecting the rights of individuals, amongst other obligations and duties. This enables these actors to evade any sort of accountability and oversight thus denying individuals any access to complaint mechanisms and redress. This context raises grave concerns of abuse and misuse of biometric data which could have adverse negative effects on individuals’ enjoyment of their fundamental rights.

Biometric data is categorized as sensitive information and it is currently being processed in a complete legal and regulatory void. Not only that, it is extremely difficult to find out exactly what is being collected and how it is being stored and shared, particularly by private companies. There is an urgent to adopt and enforce need for practical legal and regulatory frameworks in these regulate and oversee effectively the processing of all data by both public and private actors in their capacities as data controllers and/or processors.

In countries like India, Kenya and even Somaliland, state agencies are collecting biometric data massively for voter registration and other purposes yet the countries lack proper laws on data protection and privacy rights.
In this session, we will bring together international civil society panelists each of whom are in varying stages of researching on the use of biometrics in their jurisdictions, the risks data subjects are exposed to due to lack of legal framework and proposed solutions in getting data protection laws finally being legislated or enforced. The panelists will to identify and share the motivations of the adoption of biometric technologies in their jurisdictions such as fool proof electoral systems and national identification programs, the legal, cultural and ethical issues that arise; and what they think will be the best way forward lobbying and pushing for legislation of a data protection law. The panelists will also exchange ideas, share lessons learned and, in collaboration with active participants in the audience, work toward addressing the issue of use of biometric data and data protection mechanisms.

avatar for Lucy Purdon

Lucy Purdon

Policy Officer, Privacy International
Lucy is Policy Officer with Privacy International and leads the global policy work on cybersecurity and identity. She works across the organisation and with international partners to develop policy recommendations and positions based on research project findings.Lucy previously managed... Read More →


Hyra Basit

Digital Rights Foundation
avatar for Wafa Ben-Hassine

Wafa Ben-Hassine

Global Policy Counsel, Access Now
Wafa Ben-Hassine is a New York qualified attorney specializing in international law and technology. She is currently a Global Policy Counsel for Access Now, an international non-profit organization defending and extending human rights in the digital age. In her current role, she manages... Read More →
avatar for Miguel Morachimo

Miguel Morachimo

Executive Director, Hiperderecho
Miguel Morachimo is a lawyer from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and holds a Masters in Law, Science, and Technology from Stanford University. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Hiperderecho, a Peruvian nonprofit organization devoted to facilitating public understanding... Read More →
avatar for Leandro Ucciferri

Leandro Ucciferri

Policy Analyst, Asociación por los Derechos Civiles
I'm a lawyer, policy analyst and researcher working at the Association for Civil Rights (ADC in Spanish), a not-for-profit, independent, NGO founded in 1995, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. My work focuses mostly on privacy issues. https://leandro.im

Wednesday May 16, 2018 17:15 - 18:15 EDT