Thursday, June 24, 2010

Biometric Society Security card a threat

Biometric United States passport issued in 2007Image via Wikipedia

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    Lawmakers Eyeing National ID Card

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    Lawmakers are proposing a national identification card — what they're calling "high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security cards" — that would be required for all employees in the United States.
    The proposal by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-South Carolina) comes as the states are grappling to produce another national identification card at the behest of the Department of Homeland Security. Virtually none of the states are in compliance with this Real ID program — adopted in 2005 — requiring state motor vehicle bureaus to obtain and internally scan and store personal information like Social Security cards and birth certificates for a national database.

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    Homeland Security officials pointed to the Sept. 11 hijackers' ability to get driver's licenses in Virginia using false information as justification for the proposed $24 billion Real ID program. Schumer and Graham point to illegal immigration as cause for their plan.
    "We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card. Each card's unique biometric identifier would be stored only on the card; no government database would house everyone's information," they said. "The cards would not contain any private information, medical information or tracking devices. The card would be a high-tech version of the Social Security card that citizens already have."
    Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, suggests the plan would undoubtedly lead to a national database. He added that "there is no practical way of making a national identity document fraud-proof."

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    E-Passport a Privacy Concern

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    Yosie Saint-Cyr
    It was recently reportedthat Passport Canada has issued 25,000 biometric passports, and plans to issue them to all Canadians by 2011. The government is introducing e-passports to enhance security, fight fraud, reduce identity theft and meet international counter-terrorism measures already in use in travel documents in over 60 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Australia and Israel. The e-passport will now be valid for a period of 10 years (thank you!—that's an improvement at least).
    biometric passporthas a data chip inside it that can be read electronically. The chip contains information about the holder's face—such as the distances between eyes, nose, mouth and ears—which authorities can use to identify the passport holder. These details are taken from the holder's passport photograph. The chip also holds the information that is printed on the personal details page of the passport. Biometric details are unique to each citizen, like a fingerprint, the iris of the eye and facial features.
    The US Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) describes the privacy issues and risks associated with facial recognition technology (FR) in the following manner:

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    Biometric Society Security card a threat to privacy?

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    EVEN by the standards of La-La Land, the latest ploy by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California is utterly hypocritical.
    They asked the Justice Department to investigate the new Arizona immigration law. Having cops question suspects about immigration status is "polarizing and hurtful," they said.
    This is as opposed, I guess, to chasing illegal immigrants with tanks, which is what Boxer wanted to do in the early 1990s when Californians were freaking out over immigration. Boxer inserted language into an appropriations bill requiring the Pentagon to station the National Guard on the border.
    Feinstein wanted all Americans to have to carry a national ID card that would double as a work permit. Behold the new paradigm: Trashing civil liberties is fine, as long as you do it in an equal-opportunity way.

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    Social Security numbers, when started in the 1930s, were merely for keeping track of pension earnings. Now, you can't do anything, it seems, from opening a bank account to getting a telephone installed, without one. The same will be true of the new cards, especially since computer chips can be loaded with all kinds of information that government agencies will find useful.

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    But let's indulge Feinstein and her colleagues for a moment. Suppose the card is used as they promise: to verify the right to work. When you start a new job, your boss swipes the card through a machine, and it beeps its approval — except when it doesn't. Your job will be at the mercy of every computer glitch, misspelled name or typing mistake by a data-entry clerk who had a martini with Friday lunch.

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