NCSBN Biometric Data Policy


The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (“NCSBN”) and Pearson VUE (“Pearson”) are committed to the development and administration of computerized, adaptive, nurse licensure examinations – specifically, the NCLEX-RN® and NCLEX-PN® examinations (collectively, “NCLEX®”). As part of this effort, Pearson utilizes a state-of-the-art system that offers a comprehensive level of integrity and security for the NCLEX® examination program that is quick and simple to use.

Rather than providing an ID badge or other identification, an individual who wishes to take an NCLEX® examination places his/her hand on a device that holds a sensor with palm vein scanning technology. This device works by scanning the veins inside of your hand using a safe, near-infrared light source like that in a TV remote control. Data points, or measuring points, from the scan are immediately converted through a proprietary software program to a unique mathematical representation of that data, which is encrypted and saved in a template. This technology does not actually collect or store images of the palm veins or scan.

The palm vein scanning technology has many safeguards built in to protect privacy and give each test-taker a single record that is virtually impossible to forge. Palm vein scanning allows a fast, highly accurate and secure test-taking system that ensures only eligible candidates can take the applicable NCLEX® examination.

Palm vein scanning also allows Pearson and NCSBN to determine whether people are trying to take an NCLEX® examination under an assumed tester name. By working to prevent proxy testers, the technology helps Pearson and NCSBN maintain the integrity of the NCLEX® examination and enable boards of nursing to fulfil their mandate of public protection. For this specific purpose, the templates or biometric data derived from the palm scanning system are kept in a secure database in order to: (i) verify an individual’s identity during certain instances when the individual attempts to take an NCLEX® examination; and (ii) confirm, in the context of an investigation or audit, that the individual did not attempt to retake an NCLEX® examination within three (3) years after passing the exam.

Each individual who wishes to take an NCLEX® examination will have his/her palm scanned when he/she arrives at the testing center to check-in for the NCLEX® examination. To verify an individual’s identity, that individual’s template will be compared with the template assigned to the individual, and again when he/she returns to the testing room after a break. Lastly, if, in its sole discretion, NCSBN deems it necessary to investigate or otherwise audit test results, each individual’s template may be compared with those of other individuals who have taken, or are taking, an NCLEX® examination, to allow Pearson or NCSBN to determine whether individuals may have tested under multiple names. After an individual finishes taking the NCLEX® examination, his/her template is sent via encrypted transmission, with that individual’s test results, to Pearson. That individual’s template is then kept separately from other information about that individual in the system.

Any individual who wishes to take an NCLEX® examination will be required, as a condition of taking the examination, to agree to Pearson’s use of the palm scanning technology and the biometric data which results. Before agreeing to the scan, individuals should read this NCSBN Biometric Data Policy which is also available at any time via the following website: https://policies.ncsbn.org/biometric_data_policy.html.

NCSBN and Pearson understand that, in today’s world, people may be concerned about the security of their personal information, including the templates or biometric data derived from the palm vein scanning system. With this in mind, NCSBN and Pearson may use vendors that share their commitment to protecting that information. NCSBN and Pearson will protect from disclosure the templates or biometric data derived from the palm vein scanning technology by using the reasonable standard of care within the industry. NCSBN and Pearson’s commitment to individuals who provide palm vein scans is that the templates or biometric data derived from those scans will be protected to the same level as any other confidential and sensitive information.

The templates or biometric data derived from your palm vein scans will be kept for a period after you last take an NCLEX® examination, but in no event longer than three (3) years after you successfully pass an NCLEX® examination or three (3) years after your last interaction with Pearson, whichever is sooner, unless otherwise required by law, and will be permanently destroyed upon the expiration of these time periods. During the retention period specified above, the templates from the palm vein scanning system will be kept by Pearson and/or its vendor. The templates or biometric data derived from the palm vein scanning system will be accessible only by Pearson, its vendor and/or NCSBN representatives who have certain job duties that would require access. Pearson, its vendor and NCSBN will not sell, lease, trade, or otherwise profit from an individual’s templates or biometric data. Pearson, its vendor and NCSBN will not disclose or otherwise disseminate an individual’s templates or biometric data without that individual’s agreement, unless required by any state or federal law, municipal ordinance, valid warrant, or valid subpoena.

This Policy is intended to comply with all federal, state, and local laws, and will be interpreted and applied in order to comply with all applicable laws, including but not limited to, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. If any provision of this NCSBN Biometric Data Policy or any part thereof contravenes any law, or if the operation of any provision hereof is determined by law or otherwise to be unenforceable, then such offending provision or part thereof shall be severed and the remaining provisions given full force and effect. If you have any questions about this Policy, please contact NCSBN at nclexinfo@ncsbn.org.

Last Updated: 11/15/2019