France Okays GMAT’s Biometric Identification

palm secureFor the first time in its history, the French National Commission for Data Protection and the Liberties (CNIL) has granted approval to a private testing company — the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) — to collect biometric data as part of its efforts to ensure the highest level of security for the GMAT exam, a press release issued July 9 reveals. No other private examination has obtained this permission.

In consideration of the guarantees taken by GMAT to protect privacy, the CNIL authorized GMAC’s use of the new PalmSecure biometric device to authenticate the identity of individuals taking the GMAT. In the near future, data collected from this device will be used to match candidate information across a central database that includes biometric data from individuals sitting for the exam at other test centres around the world.

The GMAT exam is currently the only examination that utilizes the new PalmSecure palm vein identification technology (pictured above). PalmSecure features a near-infrared light that captures a palm vein pattern, generating a unique encrypted biometric template that is matched against the pre-registered candidate’s palm vein pattern, thus ensuring the test taker is that candidate. It offers a highly reliable form of authentication because it utilizes no trace technology, no image is ever stored, and the data cannot be read by other devices.

The CNIL voiced approval for the system because “It is not likely to be captured without the knowledge of the person concerned and therefore presents very little risk for the civil liberties and fundamental rights of the individuals.”

GMAC will now implement PalmSecure and file requests for its use with other European countries. Portugal has already authorized it, and GMAC expects to use the PalmSecure technology in all test centers by the close of 2009.

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