Mark of the Beast or Not?
Paying attention to the biometrics community requires a certain mental flexibility. For example, I was interested to read a guest post on The Future of Privacy blog by Kathy Harman-Stokes. She attended the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) 2010 Biometrics Conference and noticed that several speakers emphasized the value of “ubiquitous biometrics.”
For biometrics to become ubiquitous, one speaker said biometrics should be widely used for facilities access, by employers for time and attendance recording of employees, and customer identification for various transactions, such as financial transactions. One goal of this NDIA Conference was to address government progress on implementation of U.S. Homeland Security Presidential Directive 24, which calls for interoperability of government biometric systems to aid the fight against terrorism. Speakers at the conference spoke of the promise for biometrics to minimize terrorist activities and also improve our everyday lives.
The very same day, I read an article in the Washington Post: “Human microchips seen by some in Virginia House as device of Antichrist”. I can’t get the link to work from the WP but you can read it at The Raw Story.
I originally thought the concerns were about privacy, and that’s partially true but it also turns out the lawmaker is concerned that the chips will prove to be the Antichrist’s “mark of the beast.” So the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that forbids companies from forcing their employees to be implanted with tracking devices.
OK, I’m having a hard time finding an objection to that. Who on earth is in favor of forcing employees to be chipped?
Well, RFID chips do not use biometrics. The privacy issues are similar but there are no issues concerning biometrics. Right? Right?
The New Hampshire legislature is considering a bill which would ban biometric data, including fingerprints, retinal scans, DNA, palm prints, facial feature patterns, handwritten signature characteristics, voice data, iris recognition, keystroke dynamics, and hand characteristics from being used in state or privately issued ID cards, except for employee ID cards.
Well, that is quite the range. We go from ubiquitous – existing or being everywhere at the same time : constantly encountered – to potentially banned in just a few days.
To me, passing a law that bans biometric data being used is silly. The technology exists and technology is neutral. The important thing is transparency and communication. I think it would be convenient to be able to pay for my groceries using my fingerprint linked to a bank account.
I don’t have to carry around credit cards and I don’t have to worry about fraud. I don’t have to remember passwords or PINs. But I still want this system to be optional. I want to be able to go online and view or remove my biometric data from the system at any time. I still want to be able to use cash or a plastic card.