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Biometric Harm


This article argues in favour of the recognition of biometric harm, which is a specific type of harm arising from the use of biometrics to identify and classify people without a valid legal justification. The importance and pervasiveness of biometric technologies have increased. The development of biometric systems is rapidly advancing; however, their potential negative implications for individuals and society are routinely dismissed or willingly ignored. Biometrics deeply affects some of the basic needs of humans, including the need to step out of one’s social identities to enjoy unobserved time and the need to self-represent oneself in all social relationships. Such necessities are preserved by the legal system via high-ranked provisions that protect personhood, dignity, the right to private life and the right to express one’s personality. Because of these negative effects on core human necessities and legal values, this paper submits that biometric identification should be considered harmful, unless justified by another equally fundamental legal value. In line with other restrictions of the involved fundamental values, necessity and law enforcement purposes may justify biometric identification. Conversely, it is submitted that consent, while essential, does not fulfil the requirements of a stand-alone justification for biometric harm.

Published: 2023-11-21
Pages:238 to 251
Section: Articles
How to Cite
Migliorini, Sara. 2023. “Biometric Harm”. Law, Technology and Humans 5 (2):238-51.

Author Biography

University of Macau
Macao Macao

Dr. Sara Migliorini is Assistant Professor of Global Legal Studies at the University of Macau, and Research Affiliate at the Centre for AI and Data Governance (CAIDG) at the Singapore Management University (SMU).

Sara’s research focuses on global technology law and regulation. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and two books. Sara’s writings have been cited several times by the Court of Justice of the EU and she has been involved in preparatory work for the European Commission in the field of international and technology law.

Before joining UM, Sara held the position of Research Fellow in Private International Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL), and other research and teaching positions at the Universities of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne, London (International Programs), Lausanne and Florence. Sara holds a Ph.D. from the EUI, and a Master’s degree (summa cum laude) from the University of Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne. Sara is admitted to practice law in France.

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2652-4074