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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The European Union is questioning the use of insecure biometric ID cards, while at the same time the United Kingdom is using its presidency of the organization to push for adoption of the cards across the entire EU. EU standards on consumer privacy are already much higher than the U.S. requiring many American companies to increase their benchmarks significantly before managing data overseas. Biometrics is a technology used for recognizing humans based on one or more intrinsic physical or behavioral traits like fingerprints or iris scans. The U.S. Department of Defense has used it in military locations around the world, even some in the U.S. From an article in London’s The Register, EU-funded FIDIS (Future of Identity in the Information Society) warned of the risks in implementing this kind of ID for travel because it would decrease security and privacy, and increase the possibility of identity theft. The reason is that this new Machine Readable Travel Document (MRTD) is remotely readable at distances from 6.5 feet to 32.5 feet. This would allow stealing of the data in much the same way the TJ Maxx 47 million credit card numbers were taken from a wireless cash register by thieves navigating a parking lot in St Paul, MN. (See TJ Maxx story) With the continued development of this kind of technology without the accompanying addition of security measures to protect the data, ID thieves of the future will be walking around looking for wireless locations with their directional antennas much like searchers looking for valuables with a metal detector. With the advancement of this science far out-pacing the protective measures for our sensitive data, the only answer is protection by individual control over our names and private information. Please join me in this grassroots movement by letting me know your thoughts on the issue.

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