Feature Fusion Methods for Indexing and Retrieval of Biometric Data: Application to Face Recognition with Privacy Protection
Computationally efficient, accurate, and privacy-preserving data storage and retrieval are among the key challenges faced by practical deployments of biometric identification systems worldwide. In this work, a method of protected indexing of biometric data is presented. By utilising feature-level fusion of intelligently paired templates, a multi-stage search structure is created. During retrieval, the list of potential candidate identities is successively pre-filtered, thereby reducing the number of template comparisons necessary for a biometric identification transaction. Protection of the biometric probe templates, as well as the stored reference templates and the created index is carried out using homomorphic encryption. The proposed method is extensively evaluated in closed-set and open-set identification scenarios on publicly available databases using two state-of-the-art open-source face recognition systems. With respect to a typical baseline algorithm utilising an exhaustive search-based retrieval algorithm, the proposed method enables a reduction of the computational workload associated with a biometric identification transaction by 90%, while simultaneously suffering no degradation of the biometric performance. Furthermore, by facilitating a seamless integration of template protection with open-source homomorphic encryption libraries, the proposed method guarantees unlinkability, irreversibility, and renewability of the protected biometric data.