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NCITS Tackles Standards to Support Counter-Terrorism and Prevent Identity Theft

NCITS Tackles Standards to Support Counter-Terrorism and Prevent Identity Theft
Interested Parties Welcome at January 16-17 Meeting

Washington, DC, November 26, 2001 - The Executive Board of the National Committee for Information Technology Standards (NCITS) has established a Technical Committee (M1) for Biometrics and announced the first meeting on January 16-17 at NCITS headquarters. The committee's work is intended to support implementation of the USA PATRIOT ACT (Public Law 107-56), signed by President Bush on October 26, 2001. Sections 326, 403 and 405 of the new law require technology standards to confirm identity.

Standards for biometrics are critical to raising levels of security through interoperability between applications and systems. In key areas, such as application program interfaces and common file formats, these standards support interoperability and data interchange that cannot be achieved with incompatible and proprietary solutions.

Biometric technologies include those that automatically identify or verify the identity of a person through measurable physical or behavioral characteristics, such as fingerprint, facial, or iris recognition. By comparing a person's presented biometric features to previously registered biometric data, the person's identity can be verified with a high degree of confidence. Applications for this technology include computer network access control, physical access control, credit card holder verification at the point of sale, and screening at border crossings and airports. This technology will also help to prevent identity theft, estimated at 750,000 instances annually.

"This new Technical Committee helps the United States to accelerate biometric standardization. Biometric standards will greatly help in the prevention of identity theft and permit faster deployment of significantly better security solutions," said Susan Zevin, the Deputy Director of the Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Executive Board requested that NIST provide the convener for first meeting, which is open to all materially affected parties. Technical experts who wish to attend should contact Monica Vago at; media who would like to cover the event should contact Maryann Karinch at

Date: January 16-17, 2002 Site: NCITS headquarters, 1250 Eye St NW, Washington DC 20005. Additional details will be posted to the NCITS web site through

"These standards activities will benefit the international fight against terrorism and highlight the role that information technology and in this case, accepted, generic biometric standards will play in it," noted Rhett Dawson, President of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the industry trade group that hosts NCITS.

The biometrics group will work with other technical committees both inside and outside of NCITS to support work in related fields such as financial services and healthcare.

NCITS is the forum of choice for information technology developers, producers and users for the creation and maintenance of formal de jure IT standards. NCITS 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. The NCITS web site is and the address is NCITS Secretariat, Information Technology Industry Council, 1250 Eye St. NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005.

About ITI
ITI is a trade association representing the leading U.S. providers of information technology products and services. ITI members employ more than one million people in the United States and in 2000, their revenues exceeded $668 billion worldwide. The ITI web site is