Latanya Sweeney: "Capturing Fingerprints from a Hand Wave"


Wednesday, February 18, 2009, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Maxwell Dworkin 119

CRCS Privacy and Security Lunch Seminar

Date: Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Time: 12:00pm-1:30 pm
Place: Maxwell Dworkin 119

Speaker: Latanya Sweeney

Title:  Capturing Fingerprints from a Hand Wave

Abstract: Imagine someone taking a picture of you as you wave in greeting and as a result they have a copy of your fingerprints. The market trend is for image resolution (measured in megapixels) and capture speed of over-the-counter digital cameras to increase, thereby enabling the fast capture of prints without subjects making any physical contact with devices or necessarily being aware of the capture.

In this talk, we look at new technology and devices my students and I created based on our scientific exploration of photographic contactless capture of fingerprints, palm prints, and hand geometry in order to achieve accurate capture quickly. The capture environment, which consists of constraints placed on lighting and background, may be structured (requiring insertion of hands into a box like device), semi-structured (controlling background and or lights without enclosing the hands), or unstructured (using naturally occurring locations with little or no concern to lighting or background). Under a grant from the National Institutes of Justice, my students and I have already constructed frontal capture prototypes in structured, semi-structured, and unstructured environments. Our devices can additionally be used to simultaneously capture the face, ear, and/or iris. In this talk, we will present these devices and explain the significant benefits they promise to law-enforcement, homeland security, and others. We will also briefly discuss implications to privacy, legal cases, and fingerprint matching.

BIO: Latanya Sweeney, PhD is an Associate Professor of Computer Science, Technology and Policy in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She also founded and serves as the Director of the Data Privacy Lab, which works with real-world stakeholders to solve today’s privacy technology problems. Her work involves creating technologies and related policies with provable guarantees of privacy protection while allowing society to collect and share person-specific information for many worthy purposes. Her work has received awards from numerous organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Informatics Association, and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The American College of Medical Informatics inducted her as a Fellow in 2006. Dr. Sweeney received her PhD in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001. Her undergraduate degree in computer science was from Harvard University where she graduated cum laude. She joined the faculty of Carnegie Mellon as an Assistant Professor in 1998. She is the co-Director of the PhD Program in Computation, Organizations and Society at Carnegie Mellon and she is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Privacy Technology. More information about Dr. Sweeney is available at her website