From Identification to Identity Theft: Public Perceptions of Biometric Privacy Harms
Central to understanding biometric privacy is the question of biometric privacy harms. How much do people value biometric privacy, and what evils should biometric privacy laws seek to avert? This Article addresses these questions by surveying two nationally representative samples to determine what does, and does not, worry people in the context of biometrics. The results show that many people are deeply concerned about biometric privacy in the consumer context, that they are willing to sacrifice real benefits to preserve biometric privacy, and that those who are concerned with biometric privacy attribute their concern to many factors that are not directly related to data security, particularly public tracking. Further, people’s level of comfort with biometric data collection differs sharply depending on the uses to which the data will be put and not just on the type of data collected. These nuanced attitudes about biometric privacy are in sharp conflict with a purely data security approach to biometric harms, and therefore have substantial implications both for future legislative consideration as well as current standing litigation.