The International Biometrics and Identity Association is rebutting misleading claims behind media statements released by the offices of 5 senators which conflate the terms “surveillance” and “identity verification”.

The statements call for a ban on the Transport Security Association’s use of facial biometric technology at several major airports throughout the U.S., revealing misconceptions about the way face biometric technology works by scanning and matching live facial images to identity documents. It compounds common beliefs that biometric technology is intrusive, anti privacy-preserving and bias when solution providers are increasingly achieving high NIST rankings for accuracy.

To conflate biometric technology with ‘surveillance’ is not acknowledging the many sector use cases like travel where biometrics is significantly enhancing security and delivering a seamless user experience. The TSA was founded following the 9/11 attacks which starkly highlighted the need to manage secure travel and since 2001 the Customs and Border Protection has outlined its roadmap to deployment biometric touchpoints across all U.S. airports. However, sloppy reporting and politically-charged debate around biometrics has enabled a false narrative around biometric innovation today to fester.

Speaking to Robert Tappan, Managing Director of IBIA, in an exclusive interview for, he shared that a spate of negative articles and a tide of negative reporting which surfaced in December was creating a false narrative around biometrics.

China, for example, have used real surveillance to have control over their citizens lives, embarking on a regime of surveillance.

The technology is actually an incredible asset in many industry use cases such as travel which enhances security and a seamless consumer experience.

Tappan refuted the terminology which suggests biometrics is an invasive technology for surveillance.

The differences between surveillance and verification are substantial, the press release said, and bias is not unfairly discriminating some demographic groups as it has been portrayed.

“These statements belie a common but incorrect belief about the way these technologies work” he said.

“Either these Senators are not spending the time to understand the technology being implemented, or the Senators themselves are choosing to ignore the reality of the technology. If it’s the latter, then at best, it’s political grandstanding. At worst, it’s another example of demonising a government agency just trying to do a better job on a mission which protects us all,” Tappan added.

The IBIA is an advocacy organisation representing the biometrics and identity technologies industry in U.S.