To facilitate standards work at the international level, ISO/IEU JTC 1/SC 37 was established in June 2002 at the request of the United States, which is represented within SC37 by the International Committee for Information Technology Standards, M1 technical committee on biometrics (INCITS M1). This body coordinates the development of biometric standards based on consensus development with the industrial, academic, and government communities. Within SC 37, there are six areas of focus: (1) vocabulary and concept harmonization; (2) biometrics data transfer; (3) data format standards for interoperability; (4) standard specific application profiles; (5) performance testing and reporting; and (6) cross-jurisdictional (legal and social) aspects for nongovernmental applications of biometrics.3 INCITS M1 participates in five of these six working groups. Development of security standards for biometrics is specifically outside the remit of SC37 but is included in the work of SC27. Other international standards bodies include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Specific work is also being carried out by specialized international groups including OASIS and the Open Group.

Nationally, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) coordinates voluntary standardization and conformity assessments in the United States, approves the creation of all national and international standards, and may also implement any changes to the standards as well.


Standards aim to establish generic sets of rules for different products and to facilitate interoperability, data exchange, consistency of use, and other desirable features. One outcome of standards development is to achieve stability and consistency of biometric technologies and products that benefit consumers and investors. In the past decade, over 20 major international standards have been developed and approved, including the following:

  • BioAPI, to enable hardware interoperability while retaining previous data,

  • Fingerprint minutiae 19794-2,

  • Fingerprint image 19794-4,

  • Face image 19794-5,


The work of WG6 was limited to nongovernmental applications at the request of INCITS M1.

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