MCLEAN, Virginia, July 9 --
For the first time in its history, the French National Commission for Data
Protection and the Liberties (CNIL) has granted approval to a private testing
company -- the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) -- to collect
biometric data as part of its efforts to ensure the highest level of security
for the GMAT exam. No other private examination has obtained this permission.
GMAC is the international organization of business schools that owns and
administers the GMAT exam, used by almost 2,000 business schools worldwide as
part of the admission process. In consideration of the guarantees taken by GMAT
to protect privacy, the CNIL authorized GMAC’s use of the new PalmSecure
biometric device to authenticate the identity of individuals taking the GMAT. In
the near future, data collected from this device will be used to match candidate
information across a central database that includes biometric data from
individuals sitting for the exam at other test centres around the world.
The GMAT exam is currently the only examination that utilizes the new
PalmSecure palm vein identification technology. PalmSecure features a
near-infrared light that captures a palm vein pattern, generating a unique
encrypted biometric template that is matched against the pre-registered
candidate’s palm vein pattern, thus ensuring the test taker is that
candidate. It offers a highly reliable form of authentication because it
utilizes no trace technology, no image is ever stored, and the data cannot be
read by other devices. The CNIL noted in its approval, It is not likely to be
captured without the knowledge of the person concerned and therefore presents
very little risk for the civil liberties and fundamental rights of the
We want to express our appreciation to the CNIL for reinforcing, in its
decision, our commitment to leadership in protecting personal data and complying
with international data privacy laws, said David A. Wilson, president and CEO of
GMAC. We want to ensure the highest level of security to protect the interests
of schools and of honest test takers.
Wilson noted that leading business schools around the world have relied upon
the GMAT as a proven predictor of a candidate’s academic success for five
decades. The CNIL’s action in granting approval for the collection of
biometric data only to the GMAT exam reflects the importance of the high
priority we place on vigilant security.
In 2005, GMAC notified the CNIL of other security measures under the Data
Protection Act to protect the GMAT exam against fraud, including audio-visual
recording in the test room and photos of candidates. However, France and some
other countries did not accept the collection of fingerprints, which was also a
part of GMAT exam security measures. GMAC then began a search for alternatives
to fingerprinting that would comply with international data privacy laws. The
CNIL received a letter of support for the value of the palm vein technology in
guaranteeing the security of the test from the HEC School of Management in
GMAC will now implement PalmSecure and file requests for its use with other
European countries. Portugal has already authorized it. GMAC expects to use the
PalmSecure technology in all test centers by the close of 2009.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (www.gmac.com) is a nonprofit
education organization of leading graduate business schools worldwide dedicated
to creating access to and disseminating information about graduate management
education. GMAC is based in McLean, Virginia, with a European office in London.
The Council owns the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), used by
approximately 4,600 graduate management programs at some 1,900 business schools
around the world to assess applicants. The GMAT -- the only standardized test
designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide -- is
now available at more than 450 test centers in 110 countries. For more
information about the GMAT, go to www.mba.com.
SOURCE: Graduate Management Admission Council
Judy Phair of Graduate Management Admission Council, Direct phone:
+1-703-245-0660, Mobile phone: +1-202-903-3227, firstname.lastname@example.org