Untold Intimacy of Digits is an facsimile of the handprint of a Bengal Peasant, Raj Konai. The handprint was taken under the orders of William Herschel – scientist, statistician and at the time a revenue official with the Bengal government. It is one of the earliest impressions of the human body taken by a person in power with the explicit purpose of using the trace to identify and verify a human subject. It was taken in lieu of a signature, to affix the identity of Konai to a document. It was felt, at the time, that subaltern subjects were way too slippery when it came to the presentation of their identities to the authorities.
Tag Archives | Biometrics
There’s no law requiring an iris scan if the police cuff you — it’s just “policy.” From the Village Voice:
But protesters and their legal advisers were surprised yesterday to learn that the size of their bail was being affected by whether defendants were willing to have the distinctive patterns of their irises photographed and logged into a database.
The idea of the state collecting distinctive biometric information from people who haven’t even been charged with a crime yet, much less convicted of one, makes civil libertarians nervous. Unlike fingerprints, no law was ever passed to require iris photographs — it’s just a policy.
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The FBI by mid-January will activate a nationwide facial recognition service in select states that will allow local police to identify unknown subjects in photos, bureau officials told Nextgov.
The federal government is embarking on a multiyear, $1 billion dollar overhaul of the FBI’s existing fingerprint database to more quickly and accurately identify suspects, partly through applying other biometric markers, such as iris scans and voice recordings.
Often law enforcement authorities will “have a photo of a person and for whatever reason they just don’t know who it is [but they know] this is clearly the missing link to our case,” said Nick Megna, a unit chief at the FBI’s criminal justice information services division. The new facial recognition service can help provide that missing link by retrieving a list of mug shots ranked in order of similarity to the features of the subject in the photo.
Several years ago I received a notice from the U.S. Government requiring me to report to an austere federal office building in downtown Manhattan for biometric data collection. I was almost disappointed when it turned out to be little more than enhanced facial photography and fingerprinting. That was then. The FBI has now launched it’s “Next Generation Intelligence” program and it is far more akin to what I had in mind: So-called multimodal biometrics (i.e., voice, iris, facial, etc.). There’s a wealth of information on the FBI’s site explaining their impressive but worrying capabilities, current and future; here’s a taste:
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Driven by advances in technology, customer requirements, and growing demand for Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) services, the FBI has initiated the Next Generation Identification (NGI) program. This program will further advance the FBI’s biometric identification services, providing an incremental replacement of current IAFIS technical capabilities, while introducing new functionality.
Dreaming of a future in which you unlock your iPod with a retina scan? The Economist examines the weaknesses of biometric authentication (that is, IDing individuals by bodily traits such as their iris, fingerprint, etc.) Contrary to what many people assume, these methods of identifying people are quite fallible, here’s why:
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Thanks to gangster movies, cop shows and spy thrillers, people have come to think of fingerprints and other biometric means of identifying evildoers as being completely foolproof. In reality, they are not and never have been, and few engineers who design such screening tools have ever claimed them to be so.
Authentication of a person is usually based on one of three things: something the person knows, such as a password; something physical the person possesses, like an actual key or token; or something about the person’s appearance or behavior. Biometric authentication relies on the third approach. Its advantage is that, unlike a password or a token, it can work without active input from the user.
The unstoppable iPhone: I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that even the cops are taking advantage of it’s amazing array of apps. Story from the Daily Mail:
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Police in the US are using an iPhone app to take photos of suspects and instantly compares them with a criminal database.
The app employs biometric information such as facial recognition software to help police identify suspects within seconds.
Known as MORIS (Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System), the system lets police officers take a photo of a suspect, upload it into a secure network where it is then analysed.
The system itself has been around for a number of years but this is the first time the iPhone’s unique combination of easy interface and high-end capability have been used by the police in this way.
If a biometric match is made, the identity, photo and background information about the suspect is transmitted back to the police officer’s iPhone and displayed.
Lawmakers working to craft a new comprehensive immigration bill have settled on a way to prevent employers from hiring illegal immigrants: a national biometric identification card all American workers would eventually be required to obtain. Under the potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an ID card with embedded information, such as fingerprints, to tie the card to the worker...