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INCITS Fast-tracks Biometrics Specification to Status as American National Standard

Contact: Maryann Karinch
Karinch Communications

INCITS Fast-tracks Biometrics Specification to Status as American National Standard
INCITS Plans Second Quick Action on BioAPI Specification: Will Recommend Fast-Tracking Internationally

Washington, D.C. February 18, 2002 - In direct support of Homeland Security legislation, the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) today announced that it has fast-tracked a biometrics specification to have it become an American National Standard, INCITS 358. The standard defines an open system standard application program interface (API) that allows software applications to communicate with different biometric technologies in a common way. At its February 20 meeting, the INCITS Executive Board will address the first step toward getting the standard on the fast-track to international acceptance through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

First developed by the BioAPI Consortium, the specification entered the INCITS process through Technical Committee M1, formed by the INCITS Executive Board on November 15. M1's work program reflects urgent needs of the government for interoperable biometrics technologies: Section 403 C) of The Patriot Act specifically covers the requirement for "Technologies Standard to Confirm Identity" and PL 107-71 on Aviation and Transportation Security calls for focus on new and emerging technologies, which may include biometrics.

"In a time of national crisis, biometrics are becoming the foundation for an extensive array of highly secure identification and personal authentication solutions," said Rhett Dawson, president of ITI, the industry trade association that sponsors the standards committee. "We are proud that INCITS experts worked closely and effectively with the BioAPI Consortium so that this truly useful biometrics specification could be approved quickly as an American National Standard."

"All mature specifications can take advantage of INCITS' fast-track process," added Karen Higginbottom, Chair of the INCITS Executive Board and Director of Standards Initiatives for Hewlett-Packard Company. "The system was set up so that technically strong specifications such as the BioAPI Consortium specifications don't languish in a committee, and the system works."

Cathy Tilton of SAFLINK, who chairs the BioAPI Consortium, noted "It has always been one of the Consortium's goals to eventually transition the BioAPI to a formal standards body. INCITS provided a great vehicle for doing just that. We now look forward to continuing the process to bring the BioAPI to ISO."

The BioAPI is the result of several years of collaborative effort of the biometrics industry, government, and major information technology vendors. The BioAPI Consortium includes a broad cross section of biometric technology manufacturers, integrators, OEMs, and end users from around the world.

About the Standard
INCITS 358 provides for simple biometric application interfaces; standard access methods to biometric functions, algorithms, and devices; secured and robust biometric data management and storage; standard methods of differentiating biometric data and device types; and support for biometric identification in distributed computing environments.

The BioAPI supports a wide range of biometric technologies including fingerprint imaging, speaker verification, facial recognition, iris scanning, dynamic signature, and hand geometry. It is designed for use in a broad range of applications, extending from embedded devices (such as in cell phones) to large-scale identification systems (such as national ID systems), as well as user authentication applications associated with computer and network access.

As an "open systems" standard, INCITS 358 is intended for use across a broad spectrum of computing environments to insure cross-platform support. This includes the Windows¨ operating system as well as other environments such as Linuxú or UNIX¨.

INCITS 358 is compatible with the recently released Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF), NIST Publication NISTIR 6529; ANSI standard X9.84-2001, Biometric Management and Security for the Financial Services Industry©; and the Human Recognition Services module of The Open Group's Common Data Security Architecture (CDSA) standard.

The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) is the forum of choice for information technology developers, producers and users for the creation and maintenance of formal de jure IT standards. INCITS is accredited by, and operates under rules approved by, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These rules are designed to ensure that voluntary standards are developed by the consensus of directly and materially affected interests. Contact: INCITS Secretariat, Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC), 1250 Eye St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005 (