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Biometrics at the borders—the challenges of a political technology

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Biometric systems have become the technological centrepieces of the respective policies of both national and supranational policy actors with the aim of constructing a technical security infrastructure on a global scale. The rapid diffusion of biometric recognition technologies in the public sector is a result of the interaction of policy actors, mainly the USA and the European Union, in an international network of post 9/11 activities. The discourse that has accompanied the diffusion process of biometrics was for long dominated by technical experts. The discourse on citizens' rights and data protection has only recently gained in importance. In the political discourse, central issues, such as the far-reaching consequences and a transparent and comprehensible substantiation of the goals being followed by politics were at best marginal. Although the triumphant procession of biometric technologies seems to be irreversible, there is a need for politics in a democratic constitutional state for further information, for a public debate and for responsible and well-informed decisions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2006

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