The Royal Academy of Engineering published a report last month titled 'Dilemmas of Privacy and Surveillance Challenges of Technological Change'.
The subject of biometric technology is dealt with on page 23 of the report:
The more biometric identification is used and the larger the database of biometric information, the greater the likelihood of false matches between a person’s biometric information and records on databases become.
This could result in people being under suspicion of serious crime if their fingerprints are falsely matched with those on a database of fingerprints found at crime scenes.
A police officer in Scotland (Shirley McKie) lost her job because her fingerprints were incorrectly identified as being present in a crime scene that she should not have entered. If systems which use biometrics as a means of identification are regarded as failure proof, then innocent individuals will suffer.
Shirley McKie's father, Iain, posted a recent comment to this blog. They, unfortunately, have had first hand experience of how devastating it can be when biometric identification fails.