What Is the Potential for Biometric Information as a Means of Access Control?

© IMaster - Fotolia.com

© IMaster – Fotolia.com

Biometric identification is actually not entirely new. Rather, the technology that allows it to be used in very effective ways has evolved tremendously. For instance, according to the FBI—and history—that agency has used biometric information to identify individuals since the very early days of the agency. In any discussion of biometrics, it’s important to understand that the information being used is already established as an effective and accurate way to identify individuals. Fingerprints, for instance, have been relied upon by law enforcement agencies for a very long time and they are, in fact, one of the most easily accessible and reliable pieces of biometric information for identification purposes.

Little Things

Biometric access control, because it does involve some very advanced technology, may immediately bring to mind very large installations—such as military bases, airports and so forth—but it is used to provide access control on a much smaller scale, as well. For instance, the new generation of Apple iPhones, among other consumer devices, use biometric data to prevent unauthorized people from getting access to those devices. This may seem minor, but when one considers how much personal data that people have stored on such devices, the security seems merited, indeed.

Large Scale Applications

Sometimes, controlling access means keeping someone out of a nation rather than just keeping them out of a particular building. In such instances, biometric data is very valuable. There are cases, of course, when law enforcement or customs may not have access to fingerprints and other commonly used biometric data to identify someone who cannot be allowed into the nation, such as a terrorist. Biometric data, however, can include facial proportions and other data that don’t require anyone to voluntarily submit the data. This can keep people out of the nation, if need be.

DHS uses biometric data stored in a vast database to determine whether someone is eligible to come into the nation or if they are trying to enter with fraudulent ID. The biometric data can be accessed instantly and, if they have records on a given person, they can tell whether they’re using an alias or fake ID to try to get into the nation and keep them out.

According to the DHS, there are 30,000 users from the government who utilize the database information to verify someone’s identity every day.


Biometric information is really quite easy to obtain. A fingerprint, voice sample, picture and other information all serve as data that can be used to identify someone with biometric technology. The scanners and other equipment required to check that biometric data are becoming more affordable and available all the time, which means that there are always new ways that this type of identification can be used. From the largest and most secure installations in the world to the phone in your pocket, the potential for controlling access with biometric data is essentially limitless and being better utilized all the time at every scale.