Privacy Issues Related to Biometrics
fingerprints, face scans, retina scans, embedded chips, and surveillance cameras

Giving The Fingerprint:  Home Law Raises Concern.  Fingerprinting is something we often associate with crime.  So the fact that Cook County home sellers — and homeowners across the state — will soon have to provide a thumb print left some people shocked.

Tennessee Speeders Could Get Fingerprinted.  Motorists stopped for traffic violations in Tennessee could be fingerprinted if state lawmakers approve a bill pending in the legislature.  Currently, when drivers are cited during traffic stops, police officers ask for the driver's signature on the ticket, but the proposed bill would allow police departments to eliminate signatures and collect fingerprints.

A new biometrics risk?  A commonly-used cancer drug can make patients' fingerprints disappear, potentially causing problems for foreign travel, a doctor warns.

Ask your doctor if capecitabine is right for you!
Cancer drug erases fingerprints.  A commonly-used cancer drug can make patients' fingerprints disappear, potentially causing problems for foreign travel, a doctor warns.  One patient was held by US immigration officials for four hours before they allowed him to enter the country.  The case is highlighted in the journal Annals of Oncology.

The Editor asks...
Is the drug available to those who just want new fingerprints — or no fingerprints?

Japanese vending machine face recognition accepts 10-yr-old as adult.  A 10-year-old boy in Kyoto was able to purchase cigarettes from a vending machine equipped with face identification technology, it has been found.  Kyoto Prefectural Police conducted an experiment with the cooperation of the boy, who had bought cigarettes from a vending machine this February.

Millions of children to be fingerprinted.  British children, possibly as young as six, will be subjected to compulsory fingerprinting under European Union rules being drawn up in secret.  The prints will be stored on a database which could be shared with countries around the world.

Big Brother really is watching:  All four walls are filled with plasma television screens, the latest in display technology, including some with satellite videoconferencing capabilities.  The floor space is filled with rows of tables and computers, and populated with men and women from various branches of the military as well as civilian experts in science, medicine and bioterrorism.

Biometrics Pinned to Social Security Cards.  The Social Security card faces its first major upgrade in 70 years under two immigration-reform proposals slated for debate this week that would add biometric information to the card and finally complete its slow metamorphosis into a national ID.

Biometrics Becoming Fact Rather Than Fiction.  More and more people are coming to the realization that using a biometric ID system is becoming a reality.  Some of the advanced technologies portrayed in Sci-Fi movies are quickly becoming part of our everyday life.

Eye Scan Technology Comes to Schools.  At this point, the New Jersey program is not mandatory.  When picking up a child, the adult provides a driver's license and then submits to an eye scan.  If the iris image camera recognizes his or her eyes, the door clicks open.

The following synopsis came from this page.
Finger Scanning At Disney Parks Causes Concern.  Disney's theme parks are trying to prevent people from buying season passes and then sharing their passes with others.  To make sure you are really you, they scan several fingers and encode the data on to a magnetic stripe on the season pass.  When you visit the park, your fingers are scanned and compared to the information on the card.  If they match, cool.  Of course, the system is not perfect and legitimate pass holders can be rejected by the system.  A new report though says that Disney is now scanning the fingers of all their customers.  Presumably they are storing this information in an online database.

Spy imagery agency takes new role inside United States after Sept. 11.  In the name of homeland security, America's spy imagery agency is keeping a close eye, close to home.  It's watching America.  Their work brushes up against the fine line between protecting the public and performing illegal government spying on Americans.

Pentagon Tests Blimp Over D.C..  A developmental Army surveillance blimp made an extended appearance over the nation's capital Wednesday [9/29/2004], buzzing over the Pentagon and other landmarks in what officials said was a demonstration of a technology that could be used to protect troops.

Who Will Watch the Watchers?  Mexico's emerging surveillance state offers a sobering look into the future if the Power Elite's proposal for a "continental security" perimeter becomes reality.

Want to use the Web?  Your fingerprint, please.  Soon, patrons of the Naperville Public Library - at least those wanting to use the Internet – will need more than a library card.  They'll give a fingerprint. … The library, like other Internet providers nationwide, has realized computer users aren't always who they say they are.  And the technology it will use to check up on them is fairly simple – patrons will press a glass-topped scanner.

Face recognition passports expected by December.  The first U.S. passport to feature facial-recognition technology should be produced by December [2004], but the technology won't be widely distributed until late 2005, a State Department official told Congress on Tuesday [6/15/2004].

Are new passports an identity-theft risk?  Privacy advocates warn data chips can be "seen" by anyone with reader.

Sci Fi Reality Creep:  Subdermal biochip implants are no longer radical right-wing or fundamental Christian fear mongering — they are reality, and Digital Angel is hard at work convincing a gullible world that they are the slickest thing since pre-sliced bread.

Impact of Artificial "Gummy" Fingers on Fingerprint Systems
This is an original compilation, Copyright © 2013 by Andrew K. Dart

Chicago Mayor Unveils Surveillance Plan.  More than 2,000 surveillance cameras in public places would be tied in to a network that would use sophisticated software to spot emergencies or suspicious behavior under a plan announced by Mayor Richard Daley.

Machines at Palm Beach airport fail face-recognition test:  Random tests of facial-recognition technology at a Florida airport this spring show that it failed to identify even half of the employees who went through screening.  The American Civil Liberties Union released the results of the first four weeks of an eight-week study at Palm Beach International Airport.  According to the group, the system made a match only 455 out of 958 times that volunteers who had their faces recorded digitally in the computer system went through it.

EPIC's Face Recognition Page:  Throughout the nation and the world, the debate on the privacy implications of face recognition and other surveillance technologies is heating up.  In January 2001, the city of Tampa, Florida used the technology to scan the faces of people in crowds at the Super Bowl, comparing them with images in a database of digital mug shots.  Privacy International subsequently gave the 2001 Big Brother Award for "Worst Public Official" to the City of Tampa for spying on Super Bowl attendees.

Face the Facts. One stubborn fact remains:  Facial recognition technology doesn't work.

Who's watching you?  Among the many reactions to the September 11 tragedy has been a renewed attention to biometrics.  The federal government has led the way with its new concern about border control.  Other proposals include the use of biometrics with ID cards and in airports, e.g. video surveillance enhanced by facial-recognition technology.

Human bio-chip implant arrives for cashless transactions.  At a global security conference in Paris, an American company announced a new syringe-injectable microchip implant for humans, designed to be used as a fraud-proof payment method for cash and credit-card transactions.

Biometrics:  Uses and Abuses.  Biometrics are the oldest form of identification.  Dogs have distinctive barks.  Cats spray.  Humans recognize faces.  On the telephone, your voice identifies you.  Your signature identifies you as the person who signed a contract.

Olympic Spy Zeppelin Flies Into Greek Flak.  Greek activists say a 200-foot surveillance zeppelin patrolling Olympic Athens tramples on civil rights and have launched legal action to ground it.  The blimp, dubbed Big Brother by local media, carries a battery of hi-tech sensors from spy cameras to chemical agent detectors and is part of Greece's $1.2 billion security plan.

Nanny-Cam may leave a home exposed:  Thousands of people who have installed a popular wireless video camera, intending to increase the security of their homes and offices, have instead unknowingly opened a window on their activities to anyone equipped with a cheap receiver.

Fingerprint scanner to ID school children:  Board votes to spend $700,000 on system, privacy advocates cry foul.

How to find hidden cameras:  While it was easy to spot cameras twenty years ago due to their large size, this has become increasingly difficult during the last decade.  Cameras have become much smaller and consume a fraction of the power they did ten years ago.  Due to this, covert installation in nearly any imaginable place is possible.

Smile, You're on In-Store Camera:  If you can't shop anonymously at your local retail giant, then privacy as we know it is dead.

Face recognition technology is a proven farce:  Crowd surveillance kit using face recognition technology by Visionics has been a comic failure in tests by the Tampa, Florida police, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has discovered.  By leveraging the Florida open-records law, the watchdog organization obtained system logs proving that the Visionics contraption has thus far failed to identify one single crook or pervert listed in the department's photographic database, while falsely identifying 'a large number' of innocent citizens.

Surveillance Monitor:  The Electronic Frontier Foundation maintains this web page documenting public surveillance and related information from around the world.

Face ID Technology Could Be Part of Security Solution:  Twenty-first century technology could play a major role in combatting any future terrorist attacks.  Digital face recognition technology used at the 2001 Super Bowl triggered outrage in some quarters over privacy concerns, but some of those concerns may be set aside in today's post-September 11 world.

FDA Clears Implantable Chip:  A company plans to begin selling a computer ID chip that can be embedded beneath people's skin, now that the Food and Drug Administration has said it will not regulate the implant as long as it contains no medical data.

Biometrics:  Beyond hype and hysteria.  Although the September 11 terrorist attacks focused the spotlight on technologies that recognize irises, facial features, fingerprints and voice, the heightened focus on security is not translating into boom sales of biometrics products.  In fact, biometrics suppliers are still struggling to find ways to sell their technology to more enterprise-level customers.  Even worse, they are viewed in some quarters as facilitators of a "Big Brother" police state.

Privacy fears move closer to reality:  In a post-Sept. 11 world, the technical opportunities for surveillance seem endless:  national identification cards, face-recognition systems and video cameras on street corners.  But who will ensure that those technologies are not abused in the name of protecting citizens from terrorism?

Big Brother chips away at civil liberties:  A US technology company is seeking to market the first-ever computer ID chip that can be embedded beneath a person's skin.  For airports, nuclear power plants and other high security facilities, the immediate benefits could be a security system that is close to fool-proof – but human rights groups warn that the chip could lead to encroachments on civil liberties.

House Leader Wants Probe of Privacy Invaders:  House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, is calling on congressional investigators to find out to what extent the federal government is funding facial-recognition technologies.  He is also calling on the relevant House committees to hold hearings on law enforcement use of surveillance technology.  The General Accounting Office, the congressional watchdog, is looking into the question of taxpayers' own money being used to finance efforts to spy on them.  In a joint statement with the American Civil Liberties Union, Armey refers to "the troubling expansion in the way technology is being used in the surveillance of ordinary Americans."

Armey, ACLU Jointly Declare War Against Surveillance Cameras:  Even though most of the time, House Republican Leader Richard Armey (R-Texas) and the American Civil Liberties Union are on opposite sides of issues, both on Wednesday issued a joint statement calling on state and local governments to stop using surveillance cameras.  "Over the past several days, a troubling expansion in the way technology is being used in the surveillance of ordinary Americans has come to light.  In response, we are today joining together to call on all state and local governments to stop using these dangerous technologies now before privacy in America is so diminished that it becomes nothing more than a fond memory", the joint statement said.

Study says "Big Brother" Cameras Have Little Effect On Crime:  Putting closed-circuit TV cameras in public places has only a small effect on crime, according to a British report released Friday, but the U.K. government insists the police cameras dissuade criminals and make people feel safe.

House Republican Leader Criticizes Surveillance Cameras In Tampa, Florida:  A top Republican leader who has been critical of surveillance cameras being placed in various locations in the Washington area wasted no time Monday criticizing Tampa, Fla. officials for placing a surveillance system in its downtown area.

What Has Happened to Our Privacy?  Law enforcement is increasingly using technology to catch lawbreakers.  But where it does so without using the judgment of a police officer as well, it damages traditional law enforcement and thus the Constitution.  Such things as traffic cameras violate our rights of privacy.

Armey Opposes "Big Brother" on HighwaysHouse Majority Leader Dick Armey, angry over the use of radar cameras to enforce speed limits on federal roads, will send a letter later Tuesday to the Interior Department decrying the practice as a "step toward a Big Brother surveillance state," The Washington Times reported.

Fingerprint May Soon Be Needed to Buy Groceries The day will come when you put your finger on a scanning device to prove who you are before you engage in transactions at retail stores, ATMs, banks and even when you buy groceries.  One company making such a device is engaged in a pilot project (in the Houston area) with the nation's largest grocery chain:  Kroger.

Fingerprints Sought From California Gun BuyersA top Democrat in the California legislature is pushing for a new gun control measure that would require gun buyers to provide their fingerprints when purchasing a weapon.

Smile for the Secret Service Image Data is purchasing driver's license photos for the USSS.

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Updated June 18, 2009.

©2013 by Andrew K. Dart