• Emilio Mordini
Reference work entry


The word “biometrics” comes from the ancient Greek and literally means measure (metrics) of life (bio). Today biometrics are largely thought of as providing automated ways of managing and authenticating the identities of individuals. While biometric technologies offer certain advantages in many of their applications (e.g., a greater convenience-to-security ratio than traditional authenticators and identifiers such as complex passwords), these advantages should be carefully weighed against the reasons for ethical concern that biometrics may rise. They include both fundamental and specific ethical issues. Fundamental ethical issues are related to the central question whether biometrics are per se demeaning and abusive of human dignity. Specific ethical issues concern questions related to privacy and data protection, to surveillance, and to large-scale applications. After confronting these ethical issues with the principles set by the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, the conclusion will indicate the potential contribution of biometric technology to the development of human rights.


Human Dignity Identity Document Biometric Data Biometric System Biometric Identification 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


This chapter was partly supported by European Commission Grant No. 261698 awarded to the project SAPIENT “Supporting Fundamental Rights, Privacy and Ethics in Surveillance Technologies.”


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Science, Society and CitizenshipRomeItaly

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