NIST releases biometric data specs

"NIST Special Publication 800-76"

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has released long-awaited biometric data specifications for secure federal identity cards. Agencies must begin issuing the secure cards to employees and contractors by Oct. 27, 2006.

The specifications NIST released yesterday include an interoperable standard for storing fingerprint minutiae, or data extracted from fingerprint images. Fingerprint-matching equipment must be interoperable with fingerprint minutiae stored on the new cards. Traditional fingerprint images will still be required during the registration process that employees and contractors must undergo before they receive the new identity credentials.

NIST officials said they created the proposed fingerprint and facial image specifications to ensure the highest possible level of performance and interoperability.

Submit comments on the draft specifications document, Special Publication 800-76, until Jan. 13, 2006. The e-mail address for comments is The subject line should read "Comments on Public Draft SP 800-76."


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