History of Biometrics

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An early cataloging of fingerprints dates back to 1881 when Juan Vucetich started a collection of fingerprints of criminals in Argentina.

Josh Ellenbogen and Nitzan Lebovic argued that Biometrics originated in the identification systems of criminal activity developed by Alphonse Bertillon (1853–1914) and Francis Galton’s theory of fingerprints and physiognomy.
According to Lebovic, Galton’s work “led to the application of mathematical models to fingerprints, phrenology, and facial characteristics” as part of “absolute identification” and “a key to both inclusion and exclusion” of populations.

Accordingly, “the biometric system is the absolute political weapon of our era” and a form of “soft control.”

The theoretician David Lyon showed that biometric systems have penetrated the civilian market during the past two decades and blurred the lines between governmental forms of control and private corporate control.

Kelly A. Gates identified 9/11 as the turning point for the cultural language of our present: “in the language of cultural studies, the aftermath of 9/11 was a moment of articulation, where objects or events that have no necessary connection come together, and a new discourse formation is established: automated facial recognition as a homeland security technology.

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