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A new survey funded by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and conducted by the Privacy & American Business newsletter, shows a high rate of public support for the use of biometric safeguards, such as fingerprinting, retinal and bone-density scans used to electronically identify someone. But that support hinges on basic privacy safeguards -- mandated by the government.
``The survey found that 88% of the public say they are concerned about the possible misuse of their personal information in America today,'' says Alan Westin, president and publisher of Privacy & American Business and the developer of the survey. ``At the general level, the survey shows most Americans to be cautiously positive in their views toward public and private sector use of biometric ID techniques.''
They survey shows that 91% of respondents say it's acceptable to request a biometric scan to check the identity of someone buying a gun against a database of convicted felons. And 85% say biometrics should be used to verify the identity of anyone making credit card purchases. Another 78% say biometrics should be used when withdrawing funds from an ATM, and 77% OK it for anyone accessing sensitive files, such as medical or financial records.
The P&AB survey, however, shows that users are more comfortable if a basic set of privacy standards are in place.
Nearly 90% of respondents say companies and organizations should make users fully informed about the biometric ID and why it's necessary. And 85% say users should be able to check to see if their biometric ID formula has been correctly applied and they can have any rejection of their identity re-examined and verified.
Another 81% say that, except in situations of national security, people should be made aware whenever their biometric identify is being collected. It should not be collected secretly.
And 58% say an organization should not be permitted to compile records to track when or where people were identified using their biometric ID.
The survey polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults.