The US shows a 'concerning lack of regard for the privacy of people's biometric data'

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When it comes to the extensive and invasive use of biometric data, the USA is one of the worst offenders in the world, faring only slightly better than China.

According to research conducted by Comparitech, which rated 50 countries according to how, where and why biometrics were taken and how they are stored, the US ranked as the fourth worst country. Topping the list is China, followed by Malaysia and Pakistan.

While Comparitech did not look at every country in the world, its study did compare 50 of them. To give a country a rating out of 25, each was rated out of five in four categories (storage, CCTV, workplace, and visas) according to how invasive and pervasive and the collection and use of biometrics is. Five questions were also applied to them, with each answer in the affirmative resulting in one point:

  • Are biometrics used in passports? Yes (1) / No (0)
  • Does the national ID card contain biometrics? Yes (1) / No (0)
  • Has the country failed to introduce a law to protect biometric data? Yes (1) / No (0)
  • Are biometrics being used in banks? Yes (1) / No (0)
  • Is biometric voter registration being used to a large extent? Yes (1) / No (0)

The US was assigned a score of 20/25 for its heavy use of biometrics, including growing use of facial recognition, without there being specific laws to protect citizens' data. There was concern at the growing use of biometrics in the workplace.

At the other end of the league are Ireland and Portugal, both praised for their small or non-existent biometric databases. Both scored 11 points.

You can see the full results and read through the methodology on the Comparitech website.

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