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Biometrics Bandwagon Outpacing Privacy Safeguards

Jay Cline writes for ComputerWorld:

Governments and corporations increasingly see biometrics as the primary way they’ll identify people in the future. In an age of terrorism and fraud, they hope fingerprint and eye scanning will become the cheapest and most reliable means of verifying that people are who they say they are. But are we ready for this convergence of computers with our flesh and bones? I don’t think so. This significant intrusion into our personal space needs a heightened level of privacy protection that most organizations have only just started to envision.

I have a deeper misgiving about biometrics. Because they promise to be much more cost-effective and reliable than traditional authentication methods, I expect businesses will want to adopt biometrics-only authentication, discarding expensive traditional methods.

Three types of system failures could make your life miserable: a failed match, a mistaken match and stolen biometrics… Biometric ID theft victims may never fully clear their names.

Cline goes on to give a checklist of the top controls customers and citizens should demand before cooperating with biometric systems. Since I think that should be never, if you want to know, you’ll have to go and read it yourself…

1 comment to Biometrics Bandwagon Outpacing Privacy Safeguards

  • Adrian Ramsey

    “A key benefit of the e-Plate is that the tag provides an encrypted and secure ID code which is registered in the UK Ministry (sic) of Transport’s vehicle database. This code prevents tampering, cloning, or other forms of fraud that can currently happen with camera-based systems. Additionally, the e-Plate is designed to shatter if anyone tries to remove or otherwise tamper with it, and the tag can be programmed to transmit a warning if any attempt is made to dislodge the plate.”

    Remember the rotating number plates on the DB5 in “Goldfinger”? I give it 6 months before some clever geek cones up with a way of copying other codes and using them at random, or even generating valid but unassigned codes.

    On the low-tech side, there’s always disabling other people’s tags en masse in the local NCP…