Biometrics council wants to fill standards gap

An international advisory council has been created following calls for global cooperation on biometric standards

Biometrics experts from industry and government have banded together to form an organisation to tackle some of the serious standards issues that could delay widespread deployment of the technology.

Announced on Tuesday, The International Biometric Council (IBAC) is made up of representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security, IBM and international security organisations.

The main aim of IBAC is to remove the ambiguity around the development and use of biometrics. The group will target much of its attention on sister organisation The European Biometrics Forum (EBF). The EBF is supported by the European Commission and aims to establish the European Union as a "world leader in Biometrics".

"International cooperation on issues such as standards and interoperability is essential for the future of biometrics. The IBAC will facilitate the cooperation and will also give the European biometrics community a global stage," said IBAC member Bernard Didier of security company Sagem Defense Securite.

The formation of the IBAC follows calls from government and the private sector for a global standards body to oversee biometric development.

As reported earlier this month, Robert Mocny, deputy director of the US-VISIT programme, US Department of Homeland Security has backed calls for an international body to monitor biometric usage. "Currently there is no body, but you'll see shortly there will be one. The EU is going to start using biometric passports, and other countries will follow. That needs coordinating," he said.

Cal Slemp, vice-president and global leader for security and privacy services at IBM Global Services, said wider international cooperation is needed to establish a common language and standards for biometrics.

"There are organisations that work together on this issue, and issues like that across borders all the time, and it can be as grandiose as to say the UN has a process in place to share information like that and create working groups to try and to create standards or expectations and across multiple jurisdictions," said Slemp. "I just don't know what the name would be."

Current efforts are piecemeal and much more can be done to exploit the potential of the federated environment, said Slemp.

The IBAC will meet twice a year and have a maximum membership of twelve individuals, but more members will be invited to join in the coming months

ZDNet Asia's Vivian Yeo contributed to this report.