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Consumers Worldwide Support Biometrics for IDs

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Consumers Worldwide Overwhelmingly Support Biometrics for Identity Verification, Says Unisys Study

More than two-thirds also favour biometrics as preferred method to combat fraud and ID theft

Nearly 70 per cent of consumers worldwide support using biometrics technologies such as fingerprints or voice recognition administered by a trusted organisation (e.g., a bank, healthcare provider or government organisation) as a way to verify an individual’s identity, according to new global research from Unisys.

The Unisys research also found that 66 per cent of consumers worldwide also favoured biometrics as the ideal method to combat fraud and identity theft as compared to other methods such as smart cards and tokens. This finding shows a slight increase from separate research that Unisys conducted in September 2005, which found 61 per cent of consumers worldwide favoured biometrics as the preferred method to fight fraud and identity theft.

“This research is revealing since many headlines today seem to question biometric adoption because of legitimate privacy concerns,” said Terry Hartmann, director for homeland security and secure identification & biometrics, Global Public Sector, Unisys Asia Pacific. “System developers and owners must address those concerns so that these technologies can move toward the mainstream on a large scale with appropriate protection and sensitivity.”

The Ponemon Institute, a leading independent firm that specialises in privacy and security research, conducted the survey on behalf of Unisys. Additional interesting findings on biometrics include:

- Convenience was the top reason for biometrics support with 82 per cent citing the benefit of not having to remember separate passwords or other login data. More than three quarters of consumers cited improving the speed of the identity verification process as their primary reason for using biometrics.

- Consumers from North America support biometrics for identity verification more than any other region (71 per cent), followed by Europe (69 per cent) and Asia Pacific (68 per cent). In contrast, Latin Americans were the least supportive (58 per cent).

- Voice recognition is the most favoured authentication method, cited by 32 per cent of respondents, followed by fingerprints (27 per cent), facial scan (20 per cent), hand geometry (12 per cent) and iris scans (10 per cent), perhaps reflecting more consumer awareness of and experience with voice and fingerprint biometrics.

- North Americans are significantly less supportive of facial scans compared to other regions, with only 10 per cent citing it as the preferred method, compared to 27 per cent consumers in Europe, 23 per cent in Asia Pacific and 20 per cent in Latin America.

- Of those respondents who did not favour biometrics for identity verification, almost three quarters (74 per cent) were suspicious of the technology, followed by 62 per cent who cited they prefer to give non-biometric identification methods.

“Despite some geographic cultural differences with certain specifics of the technologies, overall as more and more people learn about biometrics, convenience seems to outweigh concerns,” Mr Hartmann said. “Companies and governments can achieve the benefits of secure business operations with biometrics solutions through added efficiency and greater customer service.”

Unisys is a leader in biometrics and related security issues and recently opened a biometrics Centre of Excellence in Brussels, which joins its other location in Reston, Virginia, USA. The centres showcase real-life scenarios of biometrics technologies in such solutions as e-passports and other travel and customs applications, as well as identity verification in healthcare records, financial data, law enforcement and other situations.

The Unisys research is part of a broader analysis of identity authentication that Unisys will spearhead at the current 15th World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT 2006). Unisys will also present policy proposals to WCIT delegates on the need for standards around procedures and practices in global identity authentication.

The Congress is expected to draw 2,000 business, government and academic leaders from 80 countries. WCIT 2006’s goal is to explore pertinent issues in security and privacy, digital access and healthcare, and to make specific, actionable policy recommendations to the global IT community. A biennial global event, the 15th Congress will take place in Austin, Texas, 1-5 May, 2006.

About the research and the Ponemon Institute
The Unisys research consisted primarily of a Web-based survey of randomly chosen consumers in 14 countries: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and United States. The Ponemon Institute sent invitations to 16,683 adult-aged individuals throughout the world, via e-mail or letter, from which it received 1,661 usable responses, resulting in an overall 9.96 per cent response rate. Of these respondents, 464 are North Americans, 427 are Europeans, 450 reside in Asia-Pacific, and 320 are Latin Americans. The Ponemon Institute also conducted an additional 262 direct interviews (either in-person or via telephone) in four countries to validate the Web-based survey findings.

The Ponemon Institute is a “think tank” dedicated to advancing responsible information practices in businesses and government. To achieve this objective, Ponemon Institute conducts independent research on privacy and information security, educates leaders from the private and public sectors, and verifies the privacy and data protection practices of organisations. The Institute is headquartered in Michigan. For more information, visit or contact +1 (800) 887-3118.

About Unisys
Unisys is a worldwide technology services and solutions company. Our consultants apply Unisys expertise in consulting, systems integration, outsourcing, infrastructure, and server technology to help our clients achieve secure business operations. We build more secure organisations by creating visibility into clients’ business operations. Using Unisys 3D Visible Enterprise, we make visible the impact of their decisions—ahead of investments, opportunities and risks. For more information, visit


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