Tag Archives | Identity

EU Challenges Britain’s Fingerprinting Of Children In Schools

finger_1785510cIt’s nice to know that the classroom is preparing kids for the future. In one out of every seven British schools, pupils are compulsorily fingerprinted, with finger scanners being used in lunch rooms and libraries, the Telegraph reports:

The European Commission has demanded Britain justifies the widespread and routine fingerprinting of children in schools because of “significant concerns” that the policy breaks EU privacy laws.

The commissioner is also concerned that parents are not allowed legal redress after one man was told he could not challenge the compulsory fingerprinting, without his permission, of his daughter for a “unique pupil number”.

In many schools, when using the canteen or library, children, as young as four, place their thumbs on a scanner and lunch money is deducted from their account or they are registered as borrowing a book.
Research carried out by Dr Emmeline Taylor, at Salford University, found earlier this year that 3,500 schools in the UK – one in seven – are using fingerprint technology.

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Electronic Pickpockets And The Wallet To Stop Them

DataSafe wallet and passport protector. (Kena Kai)

DataSafe wallet and passport protector. (Kena Kai)

Turns out the paranoid people with tin foil on their heads weren’t completely wrong. Except the foil doesn’t need to protect your head, but your wallet. The latest thing in pickpocket-technology is being able to scan your credit or ID cards from several feet away. The Washington Post reports:

Stuck on the tarmac, flipping through a travel magazine, you’re struck by the blurb for metal-lined wallets. Purpose: to prevent digital pickpocketing by blocking radio frequencies.

These handsome babies start at $79.99 and top out at the $225 Italian Leather Teju Lizard Embossed Travel Wallet.

Your reaction: Wow! Luxury accessories for paranoids! But you would be wrong. Maybe.

Because, says electronic security expert Bruce Schneier, crystallizing the view of many: “As weird as it sounds, wrapping your passport in tinfoil helps. The tinfoil people, in this case, happen to be correct.

[Continues at The Washington Post]

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NYPD To Start Iris Scanning Suspects And Prisoners

Will iris scans replace the fingerprint? With the many ways someone can change their identity, NYPD is taking a step to insure that their prisoners remain the same person from booking to the arraignment. From DNAinfo:

The NYPD implemented a new identification procedure this week – using digital eye scans to prevent prisoners from assuming false identities during arraignment.

The new practice, which identifies prisoners by taking high-resolution pictures of their irises, the colored part of the eye, began on Monday at Manhattan Central Booking and is expected to expand to other boroughs, the NYPD confirmed Tuesday.

The eye scans are performed first during the booking process and again before the arraignment to confirm that it’s the same person, according to police.

While NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told the New York Times that the department did not know how many people had fallen through the cracks by pretending to be different people at their arraignments, there have been at least two such instances reported in the past year.

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Biometric Identification: More Flawed Than You Think

BarprintDreaming 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:

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.

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Google CEO To Young People: You’ll Be Able to Get a New Identity When You Reach Adulthood

Google Chrome and CEOCheck out Google CEO Eric Schmidt's solution for privacy advocates in this Wall Street Journal article over the weekend. Suddenly that Google Chrome logo looks like an all-seeing eye to me instead of some futuristic Simon. Is this a future service Google is considering offering (the opportunity to "reload" your identity)? Worth reading the whole article from Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. in the WSJ:
Google takes a similarly generous view of its own motives on the politically vexed issue of privacy. Mr. Schmidt says regulation is unnecessary because Google faces such strong incentives to treat its users right, since they will walk away the minute Google does anything with their personal information they find "creepy." Really? Some might be skeptical that a user with, say, a thousand photos on Picasa would find it so easy to walk away. Or a guy with 10 years of emails on Gmail. Or a small business owner who has come to rely on Google Docs as an alternative to Microsoft Office. Isn't stickiness — even slightly extortionate stickiness — what these Google services aim for? Mr. Schmidt is surely right, though, that the questions go far beyond Google. "I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," he says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites. "I mean we really have to think about these things as a society," he adds. "I'm not even talking about the really terrible stuff, terrorism and access to evil things," he says.
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