Anti

Pieces on the theory or practical use of biometric technology.


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Alex Massie writes in the Spectator: For all the talk of Cameron and his grasp of detail the fact remains that Miliband may, as Swot of the Lower Fourth, have the nuts and bolts but he’s wrong – hopelessly, utterly wrong – on policy. To recap, today he asked the Prime Minister: “Around 5,000 people each year are arrested on suspicion of rape and not charged … in certain cases these individuals have gone on to commit further offences and be convicted as a result of the DNA being held on the national database, but his proposal is that for those arrested and not charged the DNA would be disposed of straight away. “I ask him again, why is it right to discard the DNA of those arrested but not charged with rape? Because, my dear boy, it is wrong for the state to treat the innocent as though they […]

Miliband May Know the Detail But His Policies Are Wrong


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Alan Travis writes in The Guardian: The supreme court has declared that chief constables who refuse to delete the DNA profiles of more than 1 million innocent people on request are acting unlawfully. The ruling by the most senior judges in England and Wales says that the current police policy of indefinitely keeping DNA profiles of people arrested but never convicted is excessive and violates privacy rights. Chief constables have continued collecting the DNA profiles of everyone arrested, whether they are convicted or not, and keeping them indefinitely on a national database. This is despite a ruling by the European court of human rights more than three years ago that it was a breach of privacy rights. More than 200,000 new DNA profiles of innocent people have been added to the national police DNA database since the ruling that their blanket retention was unlawful in February 2008, bringing the total […]

Police breaking law by keeping DNA of the innocent, supreme ...


Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, writes in Public Servant magazine about ACPO’s stance on the DNA database: In March, the Commons committee scrutinising the bill heard its first evidence from expert witnesses, including the Association of Chief Police Officers and GeneWatch UK. The Times reports of chief constable Sims’ claim that 1,000 crimes a year would not be solved as a result of the bill, but it does not report the detailed examination of these claims by the committee. GeneWatch disputes the police figures, which are exaggerated because they are based on a false assumption that innocent people are as likely to commit future offences as people convicted of serious or multiple offences: in fact about eight out of ten offences are committed by a small number of repeat offenders. As chief constable Sims made clear in evidence, they are also estimates of database matches not convictions. Only […]

Police ‘exaggerated’ Freedom Bill dangers



According to the BBC: Facial recognition gates at Manchester Airport were temporarily taken out of use after a couple walked through the scanners after swapping passports. It is believed the pair passed through the gates in Terminal One on the morning of 8 February. The UK Border Agency said they were stopped by the immigration officer supervising the gates afterwards. It said use of the gates was suspended while an investigation was carried out but they later reopened.

Manchester Airport facial recognition gates suspended


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Kashmir Hill writes in the American Forbes Magazine: The next big privacy battle may be over who has access to your DNA. It is becoming surprisingly easy for someone to test your DNA without permission. Every drop of saliva you leave on a Styrofoam coffee cup or hair follicle that falls to the floor contains DNA that in theory can be tested for everything from ancestry to disease risk. In 2009 New Scientist writer Michael Reilly “hacked” a colleague’s genome using samples from a water glass. He found labs willing to extract DNA from the glass and amplify it, producing enough DNA to send off to a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company. Within weeks Reilly had results predicting his colleague was at risk for baldness, psoriasis and glaucoma. Amazingly, there is no [American] federal law against surreptitious DNA testing. There is also little regulation of what consumer genetics companies such as […]

Genome Hackers


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Judith Duffy writes in the Daily Express: Dozens of Scottish schools have introduced “intrusive” biometric systems, such as fingerprinting, to identify pupils as young as four. New figures show 68 schools are now using technology to manage meals, control library books and even allow access to toilets. Almost two-thirds are primaries, where fingerprinting and palm recognition can be used to identify young children. And another 10 schools in Midlothian have the capability for biometric ID but are not yet using it. Yesterday, critics said the extent which the technology was being used in Scotland’s schools was “worrying”. Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown, who uncovered the figures through Freedom of Information legislation, said: “If the vast majority of Scotland’s schools can let children move round the premises and pay for their lunch without biometric identification, it is difficult to see why it is necessary for these 68 schools. Public bodies […]

Biometric ID check on Scots schoolchildren as young as four



Bruno Waterfield writes in the Daily Telegraph: 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”.

Europe tells Britain to justify itself over fingerprinting children in ...


Ewen Callaway writes in Nature: A drop of blood can provide a rough estimate of a person’s age, helping forensic investigators to draw physical profiles of suspects and victims who leave few other traces behind. Conventional forensic DNA analysis matches samples gathered from crime scenes and compares them with those of people identified in an investigation or in a database. Increasingly, however, investigators are building physical profiles of individuals on the basis of their DNA alone. For instance, six genetic markers can indicate whether a person has blue or brown eyes.

The birthday candles in your veins


Moneylife, an online magazine from India, carries an article putting that country’s Unique Identification scheme in a historical context. It’s a useful reminder of past campaigns against official attempts to “own” individual identity: About a century ago, Gandhiji started the world famous ‘Satyagraha’ in order to oppose the identification scheme of the government in South Africa. Hundred years later, India is repeating a similar programme under the pretext of unique ID numbers As the old saying goes, ‘Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it’. It seems that both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and ultimately the Indian government have overlooked history and even the Mahatma’s views while going ahead with the ambitious and expensive unique identification number (UIDN) programme. Mahatma Gandhi or the erstwhile Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had started his historic ‘Satyagraha’ in South Africa by opposing the identification programme in that country. On 22 August […]

Even Mahatma Gandhi was against ID cards



Infosecurity magazine reports: The German government’s new national ID card – which will start being issued this November – has been publicly hacked on TV by members of the infamous Chaos Computer Club. The feature-rich cards, which the government has spent €24 million on so far and is hoping will be used by a variety of third-party organisations, are capable of storing useful authenticators such as biometric data and allied information. Or rather, was hoping, as German newswires have reported that members of the Chaos Computer Club demonstrated how easy the cards were to crack live on the WDR TV channel, reportedly resulting in considerable consternation in government circles. The article quotes Richard Kirk, European director of Fortify Software: The ID card industry was hit badly this year, he explained, when the UK government scrapped its plans for an ambitious UK national ID card system, so this very public cracking […]

New German national ID card hacked by Chaos Computer Club


Infosecurity magazine reports: The German government’s new national ID card – which will start being issued this November – has been publicly hacked on TV by members of the infamous Chaos Computer Club. The feature-rich cards, which the government has spent €24 million on so far and is hoping will be used by a variety of third-party organisations, are capable of storing useful authenticators such as biometric data and allied information. Or rather, was hoping, as German newswires have reported that members of the Chaos Computer Club demonstrated how easy the cards were to crack live on the WDR TV channel, reportedly resulting in considerable consternation in government circles. The article quotes Richard Kirk, European director of Fortify Software: The ID card industry was hit badly this year, he explained, when the UK government scrapped its plans for an ambitious UK national ID card system, so this very public cracking […]

New German national ID card hacked by Chaos Computer Club


Ellen Messmer writes in the US publication Network World: A lengthy review of the general state of biometrics raises questions about the reliability, accuracy and scalability of these technologies, as well as whether they have the public’s trust. The 183-page report, “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities,” is the culmination of a multi-year study done by a committee under the [US] National Research Council (NRC), which receives federal funding and issues reports to advise government on scientific and technical matters. This NRC biometrics committee, chaired by HP Labs distinguished scientist Joseph Pato, with its membership drawn from industry, academia and the analyst community, late last week published a withering critique of biometrics that is getting slammed by some in the industry. “Biometrics recognition has been applied to identification of criminals, patient tracking and medical informatics, and the personalization of social services, among other things,” the NRC report states. “In spite of […]

National Research Council report on biometrics raises hard questions, ire



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Andrea Petrou writes in Tech Eye: Despite the coalition government making a promise to only allow children’s fingerprinting with the consent of an adult it has made no firm plans to put this in place. The new government outlined these plans which were welcomed by Action on Rights for Children (ARCH) in section 10 of its coalition paper. It said that it would banish schools fingerprinting children of under 18 unless there was parental consent. However both ARCH and No2ID, which has also been fighting for this cause, have said they have not been able to contact any key figures in parliament to find out when this is going to happen. Terri Dowty, director at ARCH, told TechEye: “Departments are silent, we don’t get replies.

Coalition government remains silent over kids fingerprinting proposals


Ian Dunt writes in a comment piece on the Politics.co.uk web site: Remember that Crewe and Nantwich by-election in 2008? Back then, the controversy was all about how Labour tried to paint the Tory candidate as posh. But those same Labour leaflets had something else interesting in them. “Do you oppose making foreign nationals carry an ID card?” they read, in a mock-up Tory MP application form. In actual fact, the Conservatives opposed ID cards for everyone. This was desperate, ugly prejudice, the vain attempt to press that racist button in the British electorate. The media thought prejudice against rich people was more important, as is fairly typical. Labour seized the opportunities offered it by the EU law and ran with it in the most irresponsible way possible. The legislation for foreign nationals was never even in the ID Cards Act – it was completely different legislation. The only similarity […]

ID cards by the backdoor?


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Graham Titterington writes on Ovum’s Straight Talk news service: The project was in reaction to the 9/11 terrorist incident and had confused objectives and incoherent use cases. It was intended to deliver an identity system for every adult in the UK, but “identity” was never defined. The government promoted the vision of a card that would solve most of the world’s problems, including illegal immigration, terrorism, illegal working, and even crime – although it would not be issued to the juvenile age group, which commits many crimes. It would control access to services such as the National Health Service, but whether it would be used just when registering with a service or on every visit was never made clear. The card was to be a “gold standard of identity,” incorporating biometrics such as iris scans and fingerprints, and based on a “clean” database with everyone enrolling in person. The project […]

The end of the UK ID card project