ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Biometric Consortium Conference Highlights Need for Open Standards Development

New York, Sep 26, 2002

The need for secure identity verification has propelled biometric authentication methods like the retina scan from science-fiction fantasy into matters of national security. Biometric technologies - automated methods of recognizing a person based on a physiological or behavioral characteristic - are becoming the foundation of an extensive array of highly secure identification and personal verification solutions, including a range of applications related to homeland security.

More than 900 registered attendees and 73 exhibitors focused their attention on this topic during the Biometric Consortium Conference (BCC) held September 23-25, 2002 in Arlington, VA. The BCC provided a forum for policy developers and decision makers, IT users and developers, information security specialists, and representatives from government, industry, and academia to address issues including homeland security, privacy, research, testing and evaluation in the field of biometrics.

Since 9/11, a sense of urgency has propelled biometrics standards development swiftly forward, and many of the conference's over 50 presenters emphasized the need for cooperation between private- and public-sector bodies to achieve interoperability, advance mass implementation, and protect privacy of consumers and users, as well as national assets. Among the many representatives of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) members present at the conference was Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr. of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), who remarked to conference attendees, "We recognize that open, consistent standards for biometrics, and associated testing, are critical to providing higher levels of security with automatic personal identification systems."

The conference was co-chaired by Jeffrey S. Dunn of the NSA and Fernando L. Podio of the convergent information systems division of NIST/ITL. Podio also serves as chair of the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Technical Committee M1 - Biometrics, and has been appointed as acting Chairman of the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (JTC 1) Subcommittee 37 (SC37) - Biometrics, of which ANSI holds the secretariat.

The biometric industry and end-users have contributed significantly to creating a foundation of biometrics industry standards over the last three years with the aim of achieving system interoperability and biometric data interchange through industry and end-user organizations such as the BioAPI Consortium and NIST/BC Biometric Interoperability, Performance and Assurance Working Group. The impetus is now in the development of formal national and international standards through M1 and JTC1/SC37 to accelerate the development of significantly better, open systems and standards-based security solutions for different applications including identification verification for national security, confidential financial transactions, and personal data privacy.

"The progressive development of biometric industry standards is a sign of maturity in this emerging technology," stated Podio. "Formal national and international biometric standards will further support the expansion of the marketplace and assure the availability of multiple sources for comparable and competitive products."

Rhett B. Dawson, of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), another ANSI member participating in the conference, stated, "We still have to look to standards as a key component of trying to fight our way through what is in no small part a marketplace question."

ANSI senior vice president Fran Schrotter remarked, "The conference was a valuable opportunity for interface between industry, government and academia," said Schrotter. "When standards bodies, federal government and consortia work together to serve a variety of sectors, U.S. and international interests are well served."

The Biometric Consortium (BC) serves as a focal point for research, development, testing, evaluation and application of biometric-cased personal identification/verification systems, and is comprised of over 900 members from private industry, federal, state, and local governments, and academia. The BC fosters cooperation between industry and users in biometrics and related technologies.

The Biometric Consortium Conference was co-sponsored by the Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) and the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Defense Biometrics Management Office, the General Services Administration (GSA), Federal Technology Service (FTS) Center for Smart Card Solutions, and West Virginia U.S.A.

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