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I've been browsing through several studies on user acceptance of biometrics, and I've been noticing that they all focus on attitudes and beliefs about biometrics. While it's important to know a sizeable portion of the population has objections to using biometrics in certain circumstances for various reasons, I am much more interested in knowing if people with such objections will resist if biometric authentication is made mandatory in the workplace. What are some of the ways you have seen people negatively react to it beyond complaining? How long does the defiance last?

Ultimately, how important is user acceptance when deciding whether to deploy biometric authentication?

Edit

To clarify, I am most interested in hearing any stories of pushback due to non-usability reasons, such as privacy concerns, feelings of awkwardness when authenticating, plain old resistance to change, or fear that someone will cut off your finger to access your account. I tend to dismiss such concerns as whining that will go away after awhile, but I can't take the risk of assuming that I'm right.

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3 Answers 3

The answer depends upon, among other things:

  1. the specifics of the situation where usage of biometric controls is being considered,
  2. the type of biometric control being considered and how invasive it is,
  3. the target population for the control.

Administrative staff having to submit to a retina scan every morning to gain computer access would likely invoke greater resistance than the security administrators would in having to use a fingerprint reader to gain access to a sensitive area.

User resistance could be reduced by taking steps to address accuracy and privacy issues, as well as issues regarding potential health risks that may exist with more invasive controls. And whatever control is being implemented should be usable by everyone - not everyone may have fingerprints for example. The key is awareness and training. Staff should understand what is being implemented, why it is being implemented, and what is being done to address their concerns.

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In the beginning, there is mild push-back because of the 'Big Brother' image biometrics have, but that resistance fades at the same rate that any other hardware change experiences (1-2 weeks for something used daily).

All of the lasting complaints I have experienced have all been centered around usability. In practice (in my experience) they are harder to use and more prone to failure than memorized passwords, although they should be much more efficient and reliable.

That's my experience in Canada.

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I used to work for an employer who required you to clock in and out of their timeclock using your finger prints. Some people complained but in the companies response it's easier for the password challenged users, which lets face it there's a ton of them out there :-)

The users that complained were basically told to comply or look for employment elsewhere.

There was one flaw to this approach in my opinion. My fingers peel sometimes when doing a lot of physical work (building things etc.) When they would peel it would not let me clock in. After several attempts it would finally let me type in my password and I could clock in or out.

A better option in my opinion would be some type of two factor authentication, check out the yubikey at http://www.yubico.com/yubikey I don't know anyone who would complain about using something like this and they are cheaper than any biometric devices that I've seen.

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