Biometrics record data that are unique to an individual. A full profile of a person can be made out from a sufficient amount of biometric data, and even the simplest of biometrics can identify individuals relatively easily.
Many nations around the world have, in the name of security, incorporated biometric data into their consular services, putting an indelible identification mark on all travelers within their border. In theory, this can provide a range of benefits ranging from impeding cross-border criminal activity to protecting individual travelers from identity theft.
In theory, biometric security aims to streamline the security process, especially in situations like international travel that requires both thoroughness and speed. Some applications of biometric technology still in development, such as non-tactile fingerprinting, even offer to eliminate (or, at least, remedy) common airport nuisances like long queues without compromising the safety of travelers.
No security system is perfect, and some doubt the ability and effectiveness of biometric data in security situations. Biometric data can still be forged sufficiently, albeit with great difficulty, and significant errors in the biometric analysis may impede more legitimate travel by individuals whose data cannot be read.
To the surprise of even the most skeptical, however, even the most rudimentary forms of biometric data can provide surprisingly effective means of security, justifying their use in comprehensive security plans such as those needed for travel.
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