Biometrics ID Registry

Biometric Identifier Overview

What are Biometric Identifiers?
What are Biometric Identifier registrations?

What are Biometric Identifiers?Biometric Identifiers are numeric data elements that are used to identify biometric objects that are referenced within biometric data records. Biometric Identifiers facilitate biometric data interchange between different system components or between systems, promote interoperability of application programs and systems that use biometrics, support forward compatibility for technology improvements, and facilitate the software and hardware integration process.

The Biometric Identifier concept is formally established by the standards called the Common Biometric Exchange Formats Framework (CBEFF).

There are currently two versions of CBEFF:

  • CBEFF 1.1 is an ANSI/INCITS* standard (ANSI INCITS 398-2005). CBEFF was originally developed in a series of workshops jointly sponsored by the (US) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Biometric Consortium. CBEFF 1.0 was published as NISTIR 6529 in 2001. CBEFF 1.1 was published as NISTIR 6529-A in 2004 and was adopted by ANSI/INCITS in 2005, and revised in 2008.
  • CBEFF 2.0 is an ISO/IEC JTC 1** standard (ISO/IEC 19785-1:2006). Subcommittee 37 of JTC 1 (SC 37 Biometrics) developed CBEFF 2.0 based upon CBEFF 1.0, with participation by more than a dozen different national standards bodies. Part 1:, Data element specification, specifies several abstract data elements for use in biometric record headers, including definitions for biometric identifiers. Part 2: Procedures for the operation of the Biometric Registration Authority, defines the authority for this registry and web site and specifies additional biometric identifier data elements beyond those in Part 1. (Parts 3 and 4 specify several patron formats (BIRs) and security block formats (SBs).)
         * American National Standards Institute / International Committee for
            Information Technology Standards
         ** International Standards Organization / International Electrotechnical
             Committee Joint Technical Committee 1

What are Biometric Identifier registrations?A Biometric Identifier owner is an entity (an individual, vendor, or organization, generalized as the term "Biometric Organization") that defines one or more biometric objects. To become a recognized Biometric Identifier owner (as defined by ISO/IEC 19785-2) and have a unique Biometric Organization value assigned, the entity is required to register with the Biometric Registration Authority (as managed by IBIA, via this web site).

In addition to the owner identifier, there are ten types of specific biometric object identifiers, as described by the links to the Biometric Identifier Registrations at the upper left of this page. A complete Biometric Identifier consists of two parts, 1. the Biometric Owner identifier (as assigned by and registered through this web site) and, 2. the specific object identifier (as assigned by the object’s owner and registered through this web site). Note that owners are not required to register the identifiers of their particular objects, but may do so as the means of informing the biometrics industry of the existence and availability of the objects.

CBEFF recognizes four objects that have owners and identifiers:

  • the biometric data block (BDB) format
    • a BDB contains the actual biometric data, as opposed to the CBEFF header, which contains fields that describe attributes of the BDB
  • the patron format
    • a specification for a CBEFF header (also called a BIR header or Biometric Information Record header)
  • the security block format
    • a specification for the optional part of a biometric record that describes its encryption and integrity attributes
  • the product
    • a software or hardware object that is associated with the creation or processing of a BDB

A CBEFF format type or product type represents a specific data format or product as defined by the format/product owner. These may be proprietary, unpublished formats (or products) or formats that have been standardized by an industry group, consortium, or standards body. The owning entity may optionally register the format/product type value, but is not required to do so.

IBIA is the registration authority for CBEFF Format/Product Owner and Format/Product Type values for organizations and vendors that require them. Registration of format owner is required to populate the various format-owner/product-owner fields of the CBEFF header. Registration of any format/product-type is optional. Both values, as a pair, are required when the format or product identifier is included in a CBEFF header. The BDB format owner and type are mandatory in every CBEFF header; the presence or absence of the other owner/type pairs is as defined by the CBEFF header's patron format specification.

The CBEFF format or product owner is a 2-byte unsigned integer value. The CBEFF format or product type is another 2-byte unsigned integer value. Each of these can be represented (for ease of communication) as 4 hexadecimal characters, such as "023F." The format owner value is uniquely assigned by the IBIA as part of the registration process. The format type value is uniquely assigned by the registered format or product owner and can optionally be registered and published by the IBIA. Format owners are free to disclose as much or as little about their specific format types as they wish, anywhere from full secrecy regarding their existence to full publication of the details of a data format itself.
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