Over 80% of Americans say they would support the use of biometric identification in passports, while 64% feel the same way about credit cards, and only 27% feel happy about biometrics being tied to loyalty cards, according to a survey by privacy firm TRUSTe and research provider TNS.
Fully 75% of Americans surveyed said they support the addition of biometric information to driver's licenses, and nearly as many (72.6%) support adding it to Social Security cards. The survey suggests that consumers may be willing to forego some personal privacy and even anticipate the misuse of that information in exchange for an added feeling of security.
However, 53% of respondents agreed with the statement that "the use of biometrics will greatly reduce personal privacy because the government will be able to track your movements", and 60% agreed that "there is a high potential for the government to misuse the information".
But consumers also seemed unsure as to how effective biometrics are in combating identity theft. More than two-thirds (68%) believe that adding biometric identifiers to ID documents will make it much more difficult for thieves to steal their identities, but a nearly identical proportion (67%) think that "criminals will find a way around the technology". Seventy percent of respondents had heard of biometrics - the measurement of unique physical characteristics - before being surveyed.
Almost two-thirds support adding biometric data to credit cards (64%) and debit cards (62%), but consumers are much less likely to want that kind of data on a retail store's loyalty card (27%).
This corresponds well with other findings of the survey. For example, 76% of respondents trusted banks and financial institutions "always" or "most of the time", compared to 41% of respondents trusting retail stores "always" or "most of the time".
Payments not a favourite
Interestingly, the survey revealed that many consumers don't trust systems that use biometric identification as a payment method. Less than 2% of respondents had used a fingerprint payment system of any kind, and 32% said that they "do not trust retail stores with this information". Only 23% of respondents expressed a desire to use this kind of payment technology.
According to David Stark, North America privacy officer at TNS, "The survey suggests that there are still a significant number of people who are apprehensive about the use of biometrics as a form of ID, and that this number is currently much greater for retail uses than for government identification."