Oxford’s project examines ‘biometric sampling events’ (BSEs); points where biometric data is collected. BSEs vary with respect to their deployment “location”, i.e. private or public, and also with respect to the subject’s awareness and “consent”. Some biometrics are unique and random, such as fingerprints. Some are unique and non-random, such as DNA or facial characteristics, and some are non-unique and non-random, such as skin colour or spoken accent.
Each time a new BSE is devised, a number of concerns arise which seek to balance the rights of individuals to remain private citizens and the rights of society to deploy sampling technologies and data analysis so as to protect its citizens from criminal or harmful behaviour. The project will develop a BSE taxonomy, or classification, whose purpose is to support a principle of proportionality. This should mean that the more invasive types of BSE are deployed only when there is a sufficient level of societal jeopardy. As well as the taxonomy, findings will also be shared through a video aimed at the public.
If you'd like more information, please contact the ICO's grants programme.