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Digital Identity New Zealand

Biometric industry warns that regulation may bring ‘unintended consequences’


Nona Pelletier, Senior Business Reporter, RNZ

The biometric industry is asking the privacy commissioner to develop a code of practice that will not impose regulations that stifle innovation.

Industry organisation Digital Identity (DINZ) was concerned regulation would introduce complexities and unintended consequences for the emerging technology.

DINZ executive director Colin Wallis said the industry was advocating for a code that offered strong guidance, while building awareness and education.

“No decision has been made yet, but our point to them was just be careful of the unintended consequences of coming in too quickly, with a lack of forethought about some of the unintended consequences,” he said.

“And our point was, start with beefing up guidance and support and knowledge and awareness, before beginning to try and regulate the space.”

Biometric information included physical and behavioural features such as faces, fingerprints, voices, and walking patterns, which could be used to verify identities online, border control, law enforcement, retail security, access control and attendance monitoring in workplaces and schools.

“Our response focuses on striking a balance between protecting individuals’ privacy and allowing responsible government and business use of biometric data,” Wallis said.

“We emphasise the importance of a thoughtful and well-informed approach to considering the potential for regulation of the use of biometrics, tailored to the unique challenges of this technology.”

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