Over the telephone, in jail and online, a new digital bounty is being harvested: the human voice.

Businesses and governments around the world increasingly are turning to voice biometrics, or voiceprints, to pay pensions, collect taxes, track criminals and replace passwords.

“We sometimes call it the invisible biometric,” said Mike Goldgof, an executive at Madrid-based AGNITiO, one of about 10 leading companies in the field.

Those companies have helped enter more than 65 million voiceprints into corporate and government databases, according to Associated Press interviews with dozens of industry representatives and records requests in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

“There’s a misconception that the technology we have today is only in the domain of the intelligence services, or the domain of `Star Trek,'” said Paul Burmester, of London-based ValidSoft, a voice biometric vendor. “The technology is here today, well-proven and commonly available.”

And in high demand.

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