Biometric Standardisation in the European Union: CEN TC224 WG18
09 July 2015 17:02 GMT

By Andreas Wolf

CEN, the European Committee for Standardization, is an association that brings together the National Standardisation Bodies of 33 European countries. It is one of three European Standardisation Organizations (together with CENELEC and ETSI) that have been officially recognised by the European Union and by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as being responsible for developing and defining voluntary standards at a European level.

The majority of European Standards are initiated by business and developed in partnership with other stakeholders. Around 30% are mandated by the European Commission within the framework of EU legislation. Once a European Standard has been published, each national standards body or committee is obliged to withdraw any national standard which conflicts with the new European Standard. CEN and CENELEC closely cooperate with their international counterparts, i.e. the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Biometric technologies are considered in Working Group WG18 “Biometrics”, a part of the Technical Committee TC224 “Personal identification, electronic signature and cards and their related systems and operations”. Keeping in mind that biometrics is something that should be applicable for all human beings, one may very well ask what European biometrics actually means.

However, we have found that many ISO standards need profiling to fit to European conditions, especially if topics like privacy or data protection have to be considered. This is carried out in WG18. The participating experts who are nominated by their national bodies or liaising organizations meet on a quarterly basis and are from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, FRONTEX, and ANEC. The secretariat is organized by AFNOR in Paris, the convenor of the group is Dr. Sébastien Brangoulo. Liaison officer to and from ISO/IEC JTC1 SC37 is Dr. Andreas Wolf (DIN). Many of the experts contributing to WG18 also participate in SC37 projects. This is one mechanism that helps to ensure that there is no duplication of work with SC37. However, WG18 is also a platform for smaller National Bodies that allows them to find out about and contribute to SC37 projects. In this sense, WG18 is strongly committed to supporting the application of SC37 standards.

The first Technical Specifications published by WG18 deal with:

• Fingerprints as they are used for visas and other large scale applications (CEN/TS 16428: Best practices for slap-ten print capture). This Technical Specification gives guidelines for capturing best-quality slap 10 prints in an acceptable time. It provides recommendations on/for hardware of the fingerprint sensor and its deployment, user guidance, the enrolment process including a sample workflow, developers and system integrators on application software, processing, compression and coding of the captured fingerprint images, operational issues and data logging, and evaluation of a solution and its components. The main focus of the TS lies on achieving optimal data quality for enrolment purposes.

• Automated Border Control gates (CEN/TS 16634: Recommendations for using Biometrics in European ABC). This TS focuses on ABC systems and on how to achieve a continuous and comprehensive security level throughout Europe. Its recommendations will make border processes more efficient, speed up border clearance, and deliver an improved experience to travellers. The TS applies and amends SC37 standards on biometric data coding, interfaces, performance and compliance tests. Special emphasis is given to national or regional characteristics (EU privacy and data protection regulations as well as accessibility and usability requirements and ergonomic aspects). The TS provides a systematic discussion of issues and best practice recommendations to be considered when planning and deploying ABC systems in Europe. Communication, hardware, infrastructure scalability, security aspects other than those related to biometrics, and border crossing procedures as such are not considered.

The first specification has now been adopted by SC37 as TS 20027. The topics that are currently considered include:

• Environmental influence testing methodology for operational deployments of European ABC systems: Based on ISO/IEC 29197 a testing methodology for European ABC systems is specified, covering environmental conditions that influence biometric modalities used for European ABC systems, i.e. temperature, humidity, illumination, and noise. Particular characteristics of European ABC systems are considered in accordance with best practice recommendations and privacy and data protection regulations for systems of this kind.

• Biometric application profiles for law enforcement and border control authorities using portable identification systems: This project focuses on biometric aspects of portable identification systems for law enforcement and border control authorities. These portable identification systems can be either automated or manual. The recommendations balance the needs of security, ease of access and data protection.

• A profile applying ISO/IEC 30107 to European ABC systems.

• Requirements for and evaluation of biometric authentication for critical infrastructure access control.

• Full body photography.

Europe is a region where many languages are spoken, so the translation of ISO/IEC 2382-37 into several European languages, initially into French, German, Italian, and Spanish, is one of the major projects of WG18. Having a harmonized vocabulary on biometric terminology is very helpful in creating a common European market for biometric technology and its applications.

Dr Andreas Wolf studied Mathematics and Computer Science at Humboldt University Berlin and Munich University of Technology. He holds a Ph. D. in Computer Science. In the past, he has worked with several IT companies in technology-oriented positions. He initialized the first European Common Criteria certification of a biometric product. Today, Dr. Wolf works as Principal Scientist with Bundesdruckerei GmbH, Berlin, focusing on identification topics, including the FP7 project FIDELITY. Dr. Wolf has published several book and journal contributions as well as conference papers and has filed patent applications. He holds university teaching positions in Berlin and Gera. Furthermore, he is one of the German DIN experts delegated to the ISO/IEC JTC1 committees SC17, SC31 and SC37 as well as to the European Standards Committee CEN. He is editor and co-editor of several standards.

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