Biometrics

Biometric technologies have become a vital part of migration management. The responsible use of biometrics, with full respect to applicable privacy and personal data protection legislation, can be an effective tool for enhancing migration management and empowering migrants.

The use of automated recognition of individuals based on physical and behavioural characteristics improves the reliability of verification. Delivering efficient and swift protection or assistance to beneficiaries often relies on the ability to identify individuals and to prevent irregularities regarding identity claims.  The use of biometrics in registration processes can help to collect data to identify vulnerable individuals who may require additional assistance.  Biometrics is also of great importance to facilitate and expedite regular and safe cross-border mobility; for instance, it enables the use of automated border control gates. Lastly, the responsible use of biometrics enhances security in migration and border management processes.

By providing concrete support to the responsible use of biometrics, IOM aims to contribute to improved migration management worldwide. Building on the experience gained and expertise generated by current biometric projects, IOM aims at further strengthening its capacity to apply biometric tools in its programming in all thematic areas. Biometrics are used for identity and migration management, the registration of internally displaced persons, returnees and vulnerable migrants, the management and distribution of humanitarian assistance and integration grants, assisting governments to carry out identity verification when issuing passports, visas and other travel documents; and the verification of traveller identity by government border authorities.

In this work, IOM promotes the responsible use of biometrics, effective personal data protection and respect to privacy. IOM underlines the importance of using biometrics responsibly and, notably, of ensuring the protection of personal data of beneficiaries and respect for the rule of law. When processing biometric data, IOM ensures that the data is collected in a lawful and fair manner with the consent of beneficiaries, and that the purpose of the processing is specified and legitimate. In this context, it is important to ensure that biometric data are kept secure, both technically and organizationally; it also ensures they are protected by appropriate measures against unauthorized modification, tampering, unlawful destruction, accidental loss, improper disclosure and undue transfer.

Information Sheet: IOM and Biometrics external INFO sheet November 2018