Bloggers I Have Met

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My First Poke at a National or Universal Biometrics ID card or Mechanism.

Yona had related a story of a problem where a potential biometrics customer had refused to use a hand geometry scanner because of concerns over germs.  He went on to explain how they had to deal with people concerned about the hand scanner was reading "The Mark of the Beast".  I related my concerns and why I was opposed to biometrics in certain applications.  There was no public response to my posting.

Date: Sun, 27 May 2001 16:50:30 +0800
Reply-To: The Biometric Consortium's Discussion List
Sender: The Biometric Consortium's Discussion List
Subject: Resistance to biometrics.

-----Original Message-----
From: yona flink
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2001 1:49 AM

Some of you may consider this a Joke, but it is not and should
be taken very seriously, since these and similar problems exist
in the real world of biometrics.

I suspect that many of the people on this list will be baffled by what I am about to say. Other's may think it a joke, and still other may dismiss it as 'crazy talk'. But whatever it is, practitioners of biometrics must address this concern in some way before this technology will get wide acceptance.

I have given this concern the name "The Jews in the Attic Problem." Basically, whatever would make it difficult or impossible to 'hide Jews in your attic' will be resisted. Imagine living in Germany in the late '30s, but with the computer technology we have now. Would it have been possible for you to hide and smuggle people targeted for the "work camps"? Documents, magnetic swipe cards, smart cards, and the like can be forged, stolen, and duplicated. Biometric ID is much, much more difficult -- which is one of it's great selling points. But this great selling point also makes it (in the minds of many) totally unacceptable because of the tremendous potential for abuse by tyrannical governments. Imagine instead of the cliché of the German accented "Papers please" request at random check points, traffic stops, and border crossings it's a request for a biometric identifier. This is the image in some people's minds of biometrics.

A year or so ago an acquaintance told me of his state's consideration of fingerprints on drivers licenses. He seriously told me that if it passed and the governor signed it into law he would start mailing legislators (who had voted for it) thumbs to the governor. Since he had spent several years in the US military as a commando, including extensive combat action, I was fairly certain he had both the physical and mentally capacity of doing this. Yes, I know that several states have done this and to date there haven't been any terrorist activities (that I know of) associated with those requirements. But people could move from those states -- which this person did. He said he was done moving and ready to "make his stand for freedom".

There are organized groups that take this issue exceedingly seriously and although you have to read between the lines or talk to people in private about it there are many people that would advocate 'solutions' similar to that proposed by my acquaintance in the paragraph above. One example organization is "Concerned Citizens Opposed to Police States" (http://www.ccops.org/). This is a sister organization to "Jews For the Preservation of Firearms Ownership" (http://www.jpfo.org). I am fairly certain the executives at these organizations would not publicly advocate violence over the requirement of biometric identification required by law. But they certainly advocate that option be available should an abusive government come into power. And I'm nearly certain they would view government mandated biometrics as another step closer to "A Police State".

I don't have any solution to this concern and in fact there may be no solution. But without a clear statement of the problem there is no hope for a solution. Perhaps I have made a small step closer to a solution by presenting my statement of the problem to the rest of this group.