The Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (Oasis) is to develop an XML standard for biometrics.
The Oasis XML Common Biometric Format (XCBF) group intends to define XML formats for information such as DNA, fingerprints, iris scans and hand geometry for use in identification and authentication.
XCBF will be used in biometric applications that allow access control to documents or other resources over open networks.
Philip Griffin of Griffin Consulting and chairman of the Oasis XCBF technical committee, said: "Biometrics - in essence, 'what you are' - are destined to replace 'what you know' items, such as PIN numbers, and augment 'what you have' forms of identification, such as cards."
According to Griffin, existing biometric standards use more complicated binary encoding formats, which severely limit their use in XML systems and applications.
"XCBF will provide a standard way for biometric functions to be done using XML," he said.
The group will also work on universal type definitions that will allow biometric data to be validated and exchanged.
IDC said the worldwide biometrics market reached close to $120m in 2000 and will continue to increase over the next five years at a compound annual growth rate of 50 per cent.
The Oasis committee will define the set of XML encodings to describe data elements to support biometric technologies that meet the American National Standard X9.84 security requirements on the authenticity and integrity of biometrics.
Jeff Stapleton of KPMG and chair of the working group of the X9 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) of ANSI, said: "What's critically important is that XCBF meet the ANSI security requirements.
"By basing this XML work on the schema and security mechanism defined in X9.84, it should be possible for XCBF to meet these requirements."
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