Raising the Standards

OASIS forms technical committee to define XML standard for biometrics

Boston, MA  March 11, 2002  OASIS, the interoperability consortium, today announced that its members have formed the OASIS XML Common Biometric Format (XCBF) Technical Committee to provide a standard XML schema for biometrics. XCBF will describe information that verifies identity based on human characteristics such as DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, and hand geometry. XCBF will be used in biometric applications that measure attendance, grant access control to documents or other resources, and facilitate non-repudiation in commerce, particularly over open networks.

"Biometrics, in essence 'what you are,' are destined to replace 'what you know' items, such as PIN numbers, and to augment 'what you have' forms of identification, such as cards," explained Phillip H. Griffin of Griffin Consulting, chair of the OASIS XCBF Technical Committee. "Existing biometric standards use 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."

The charter of the OASIS XCBF Technical Committee is to define a set of XML encodings for the Common Biometric Exchange File Format (CBEFF), which describes data elements necessary to support biometric technologies in a standard way. Universal type definitions will allow biometric data to be validated and exchanged without ambiguity. The exact values specified in CBEFF binary encodings will be used in XCBF XML representations. CBEFF is a draft of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), managed and maintained currently by the National Institute of Standards Technology (NIST).

"The message syntax for transferring information across the Internet seems to be focused on XML-based dialects, and biometric information is no different in this respect. What's critically important is that XCBF meets the American National Standard X9.84 security requirements regarding the authenticity and integrity of biometric data. By basing this XML work on the schema and security mechanisms defined in X9.84, it should be possible for XCBF to meet these requirements," said Jeff Stapleton of KPMG LLP, chair of the X9F4 working group of the X9 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) of ANSI.

Participation in the OASIS XCBF Technical Committee remains open to all organizations and individuals interested in advancing a standard XML schema for biometrics. OASIS will host an open mail list for public comment on XCBF, and completed work will be freely available to the public without licensing or other fees. Information on joining OASIS can be found on http://www.oasis-open.org/join.