Posts Tagged ‘ Biometric ’

Privacy Rights Groups Ask Eric Holder To Ensure The FBI’s Biometric Database Doesn’t Become Just Another Domestic Surveillance Tool

Jul 4th, 2014 | By | Category: News

The FBI is continuing to push ahead with its development of a biometric database (Next Generation Identification, or NGI), which will combine old school fingerprints and background records with facial recognition technology and other biometric data.

The technology continues to improve, but the FBI originally greenlit the database back when it still allowed the database a 20% error rate on its facial recognition. That was back in 2010, and of course, the only reason we know the FBI was perfectly fine with a 1-in-5 screw up rate was because EPIC liberated this information with an FOIA request.

This is also being rolled out without the FBI providing an updated Privacy Impact Assessment, a mandatory document demanded by the DOJ. It told Congress in 2012 that it was working on producing one. It’s still telling this same story in 2014, as detailed in a letter to Eric Holder, signed by the ACLU, the EFF, EPIC and several other civil liberties/privacy rights groups.
The FBI recognizes this transformation and, at a July 2012 Senate hearing, committed to updating its privacy assessment of the agency’s use of facial recognition. Jerome Pender, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service Division, stated in his statement for the record that “[a]n updated PIA is planned and will address all evolutionary changes since the preparation of the 2008 IPS PIA.” Furthermore, Assistant Director Pender said the updated privacy assessment would have “an emphasis on Facial Recognition.” Nearly two years later an updated privacy assessment has not been completed.
This lack of the required privacy assessment also has had little impact on the speed of the FBI’s NGI rollout. It has stated that it hopes to have the program fully operational in “fiscal year 2014.” In the slight defense of the FBI, there’s plenty of “privacy impact” to “assess.”

The NGI database not only gathers criminal records from across multiple state and federal databases but also pulls in non-criminal data gathered from federal employees and employer background checks. This database, containing photographs, iris recognition data, palm prints and vast numbers of information collected from existing databases will be accessible by local law enforcement agencies. The possibilities for abuse are nearly endless, and the program itself is far from flawless when it comes to correctly identifying suspects.
According to an FBI study, the quality of images in the database is inconsistent and often of low resolution. Partly for this reason, the FBI doesn’t promise accuracy in its search results. Instead, it ensures only that “the candidate will be returned in the top 50 candidates” 85% of the time “when the true candidate exists in the gallery.” In fact, the overwhelming number of matches will be false. This false-positive risk could result in even greater racial profiling by disproportionately shifting the burden of identification onto certain ethnicities. The false-positive risk can also alter the traditional presumption of innocence in criminal cases by placing more of a burden on the suspect to show he is not who the system identifies him to be. And this is true even if a face recognition system such as NGI offers several results for a search instead of one, because each of the people identified could be brought in for questioning, even if he or she has no relationship to the crime.
To head off abuse, the letter asks the Attorney General to ensure that the database only collects data on “individuals who are part of the criminal justice system.” It also asks Holder to prevent the NGI program from becoming just another way for the FBI (and its partners in law enforcement) to surveill innocent Americans.

Those signing this letter likely know that neither Holder nor the FBI are particularly sympathetic to the privacy interests of Americans, but the letter does create another opportunity to bring the issue to the attention of the public. Enough public pressure can push agencies in the right direction, especially if the public also gets its representatives involved. There’s been surprisingly little oversight of the FBI’s activities, especially with the NSA claiming most of the oversight spotlight in recent months, but the ACLU and others are always there to remind citizens that there’s more than one agency playing fast and loose with American’s privacy.

Growing Concerns Over Israel’s Biometric Database

Sep 25th, 2013 | By | Category: Articles

After a group of German hackers announced they have already succeeded in breaking into the biometric security system on the new Apple 5S, opponents to the biometric database in Israel fear it is only a matter of time.

Israeli expert Amir Karnei of ESET explains “There has never been a database in Israel that does not eventually find its way on the internet and the biometric program will not be an exception. Promises that the new identity card (teudat zehut) biometric database will not be broken are nonsense. It is only a matter of time” he states.

Karnei explains that the systems become increasingly sophisticated and more difficult to penetrate but there is no such thing a system that cannot be hacked. Karnei warns that in recent months rumors have spread in Israel that the basic security platform for the biometric database is not sufficient and the system will be broken. Karnei stresses that experience regarding data security in Israel has proven him correct.
He continues by pointing out the changeover to biometric is “fashionable because it easier to use an eye scan or fingerprint as opposed to remembering additional passwords”, however he feels the move will lead to compromised security. “Anyone living with the belief that the new identity database will not be cracked is fooling himself”.

The prominent computer security expert warns that Apple will deal with the breach but it should serve as yet another warning for Israel, that the new experimental biometric database will be penetrated – stating with absolute certainty “it’s only a matter of time”.

‘Biometrics’ In The Immigration Bill

Aug 17th, 2013 | By | Category: News

Posted by Sam Rolley

A debate over whether the comprehensive immigration bill currently being discussed in the Senate contains provisions for a national biometric database that would store information about virtually every adult in the United States raises some complicated questions about how willing some Americans are to sacrifice personal privacy in the name of quelling illegal immigration.

A Wired article about a provision buried in the bill drew alarm from conservative and liberal privacy advocates this week. According to the magazine, the bill contains language “mandating the creation of the innocuously-named ‘photo tool,’ a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.”

While the bill makes clear that, for now, the compiled data will be used only to supplement pre-existing e-Verify pre-employment checks, the Wired piece suggests that the “photo tool” could later be used as a tool to track the actions of all Americans by requiring cross-checked photo identification for everything from buying firearms to logging on to the Internet.

“It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state, you do have to get permission to do things,” Chris Calabrese, a Congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the magazine. “More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”

From the bill:

“(iii) PHOTO TOOL.—

“(I) USE REQUIREMENT.—An employer seeking to hire hiring an individual who has a covered identity document shall verify the identity of such individual using the photo tool described in subclause (II).

“(II) DEVELOPMENT REQUIREMENT.—The Secretary shall develop and maintain a photo tool that enables employers to match the photo on a covered identity document provided to the employer to a photo maintained by a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services database.

The Daily Beast points out that, with regard to the language in this particular bill, alarmists may be jumping the gun a little bit in saying that The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744, is being used to quietly put into place a system of population control that extends beyond keeping illegal aliens out of the workforce.

Citing language from the bill and interviews with Congressional aides, that article deduces:

The only data collected under the law that actually qualifies as “biometric” are fingerprints. And the Federal government is not going to take everyone in the Nation’s fingerprint; but rather, would double down on efforts to collect fingerprints of immigrants so that they’re better able to identify people who overstay visas or repeatedly commit immigration offenses.
In relation to concerns over a possible national photo ID system quietly being formed under the bill, a Congressional aide told The Daily Beast, “The federal government can only access state driver’s license photos if the state and the federal government enter into an agreement to share them; if the federal government were to simply mandate individual states to just turn this information over to the federal government, that would be unconstitutional under US v. Printz.”
Keeping that information in mind, the only way the Federal government could have access to your picture in the e-Verify database would be: 1) you’ve ever applied for a visa, passport or Federal work authorization — in which case, you willingly supplied your picture — or 2) your State enters an agreement with the Federal government to provide its driver license database photos to the system.

Wired’s theory of State drivers licenses becoming a key component of a national ID system does hold water considering how the Federal government has used the threat of withholding pork funding in the past to coax compliance. But it should be of some conciliation to those worried about privacy that the bill does state, quite expressly (p. 180 line 36):

NO AUTHORIZATION OF NATIONAL IDENTIFICATION CARDS.—Nothing in this section may be construed to directly or indirectly authorize the issuance, use, or establishment of a national identification card.

Still, the government’s new ID tool has privacy advocates warning that, because of its potential for other uses, the Nation will be taking one more step down a slippery slope toward a surveillance state, should the bill pass.

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, S.744

All US citizens requires to have Micro Chip Implant The New Health Care law

Aug 15th, 2013 | By | Category: Evidence, News

Micro Chip Implant The New Health Care (Obama care) law H.R. 3590 Also HR 4872 requires all US citizens to have the RIFD implanted

This evil plan is being launched by America. its a micro chip injected in your hand it will contain all your personal data heath and bank accounts etc its also a GPS device being monitored they can deactivate it at any time if they find you suspicious or not loyal to their government or go against them or their system and you will lose everything you ever had. soon this device will be made common just like they did credit cards, turning paper money into digital money. means nothing is physically in your hand. it will be made a must for every citizen with time according to their plan and then they will spread it outside America so they can monitor and control as many people as they can and turn them into slaves with their digital technologies.this device is the future or slavery

BEWARE of this EVIL DEVICE if you don’t believe me do your own research before you come to argue or debate.warn more people create this awareness do more research on your own and save yourself from this NEW DEVILRY

“666 is a time marker….There are 7 trumpets, 7 vials of wrath, and 7 seals….The antichrist makes his return at the 6th of each…It’s true that you won’t be able to buy or sell…but that’s because there will be a global currency…The “mark” is in the forehead and the right hand…This means that they are indoctrinated (forehead) and doing the works (right hand) of the beast that looks like the lamb, but speaks as a dragon…..This is the exact opposite from the seal of God in the foreheads of the people who are protected from the things to come….by their knowledge of the word….If you take the Greek word for “seal” back to it’s root…it means “protection by understanding”….Those with the mark have the opposite…They are going to be in favor of the new world system”

FBI Sued Over Facial Recognition, Biometric Database On Americans

Jul 2nd, 2013 | By | Category: News

Posted by Sam Rolley

The recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s policy of collecting American communications data in bulk has citizens throughout the Nation on high alert for all things related to government spying. A developing story about the FBI’s effort to compile an improved biometrics database provides a good example of why privacy advocates are justified in their concerns.

Last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted three separate Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the FBI seeking information on the agency’s plans to build a “bigger, faster and better” biometrics database that would incorporate facial and voice recognition technology along with other biometric identifiers.

Credit: Sam Rolley

The FBI’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) biometrics database would replace and expand upon the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and is expected to start integrating facial recognition components as early as next year.

Despite quickening progress on the project, the FBI has failed to provide up-to-date information about its plans and hasn’t responded to the EFF’s FOIA requests. Last week, EFF filed a lawsuit against the FBI in a bid to compel agency officials to release the requested information.

Read the full complaint below:

“NGI will result in a massive expansion of government data collection for both criminal and noncriminal purposes,” says EFF Staff Attorney Jennifer Lynch, who has testified before the U.S. Senate on the privacy implications of facial recognition. “Biometrics programs present critical threats to civil liberties and privacy. Face-recognition technology is among the most alarming new developments, because Americans cannot easily take precautions against the covert, remote, and mass capture of their images.”

In its FOIA filings, EFF sought information pertaining to “agreements and discussions between the FBI and various state agencies regarding the face-recognition program; records addressing the reliability of face-recognition technology; and documentation of the FBI’s plan to merge civilian and criminal records in a single repository.”

Lynch asserts what many Americans caught off-guard by news of vast government spying likely believe: that the government should be transparent in forthcoming efforts to collect information about Americans.

“Before the federal government decides to expand its surveillance powers, there needs to be a public debate,” Lynch says. “But there can be no public debate until the details of the program are presented to the public.”

If you are super worried about government facial recognition technology, you could always get some of these dorky glasses designed by Japan’s National Institute of Informatics to thwart facial recognition cameras.


Facebook Accidentally Exposed 6 Million Users’ Contact Info

Jun 27th, 2013 | By | Category: News


Facebook accidentally shared 6 million users’ email addresses or telephone numbers due to a software bug, the company announced Friday.

The breach was caused by an unfortunate combination of Facebook’s “People You May Know” and “Download Your Information” features. “People You May Know” offers friend suggestions based in part on other users’ uploaded contact lists or address books; “Download Your Information” offers a downloadable version of your Facebook Timeline archive.

When some users downloaded their Facebook archives with “Download Your Information,” the archive included contact information for second-tier connections with whom Facebook thought those users might want to connect but who hadn’t yet received or approved a friend request from that user. Translation: Data breach.

Facebook says for every email address or phone number lost in the breach, each individual piece of information was included in an archive download “only once or twice.” Facebook has no evidence there was any malicious exploitation of the bug before it was found and the service was deactivated.

SEE ALSO: How to See When Someone Unfriends You on Facebook
A security researcher found the bug and reported it to Facebook, which shared details about it on its Facebook Security page, posted in full below. Facebook says it’s notifying government regulators to the problem.

All affected Facebook users will be notified via email. Have you received an e-mail about the data breach from Facebook? Are you concerned about the breach? Tell us in the comments.

At Facebook, we take people’s privacy seriously, and we strive to protect people’s information to the very best of our ability. We implement many safeguards, hire the brightest engineers and train them to ensure we have only high-quality code behind the scenes of your Facebook experiences. We even have teams that focus exclusively on preventing and fixing privacy-related technical issues before they affect you.

Even with a strong team, no company can ensure 100% prevention of bugs, and in rare cases we don’t discover a problem until it has already affected a person’s account. This is one of the reasons we also have a White Hat program to collaborate with external security researchers and help us ensure that we maintain the highest security standards for our users.

We recently received a report to our White Hat program regarding a bug that may have allowed some of a person’s contact information (email or phone number) to be accessed by people who either had some contact information about that person or some connection to them.

Describing what caused the bug can get pretty technical, but we want to explain how it happened. When people upload their contact lists or address books to Facebook, we try to match that data with the contact information of other people on Facebook in order to generate friend recommendations. For example, we don’t want to recommend that people invite contacts to join Facebook if those contacts are already on Facebook; instead, we want to recommend that they invite those contacts to be their friends on Facebook.

Because of the bug, some of the information used to make friend recommendations and reduce the number of invitations we send was inadvertently stored in association with people’s contact information as part of their account on Facebook. As a result, if a person went to download an archive of their Facebook account through our Download Your Information (DYI) tool, they may have been provided with additional email addresses or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection. This contact information was provided by other people on Facebook and was not necessarily accurate, but was inadvertently included with the contacts of the person using the DYI tool.

After review and confirmation of the bug by our security team, we immediately disabled the DYI tool to fix the problem and were able to turn the tool back on the next day once we were satisfied that the problem had been fixed.

We’ve concluded that approximately 6 million Facebook users had email addresses or telephone numbers shared. There were other email addresses or telephone numbers included in the downloads, but they were not connected to any Facebook users or even names of individuals. For almost all of the email addresses or telephone numbers impacted, each individual email address or telephone number was only included in a download once or twice. This means, in almost all cases, an email address or telephone number was only exposed to one person. Additionally, no other types of personal or financial information were included and only people on Facebook – not developers or advertisers – have access to the DYI tool.

We currently have no evidence that this bug has been exploited maliciously and we have not received complaints from users or seen anomalous behavior on the tool or site to suggest wrongdoing. Although the practical impact of this bug is likely to be minimal since any email address or phone number that was shared was shared with people who already had some of that contact information anyway, or who had some connection to one another, it’s still something we’re upset and embarrassed by, and we’ll work doubly hard to make sure nothing like this happens again. Your trust is the most important asset we have, and we are committed to improving our safety procedures and keeping your information safe and secure.

We have already notified our regulators in the US, Canada and Europe, and we are in the process of notifying affected users via email.

We appreciate the security researcher’s report to our White Hat program, and have paid out a bug bounty to thank him for his efforts.


India: The Unique Biometric Identification project is a mission of surpassing ambition

Aug 30th, 2011 | By | Category: News

The Indian Express

Tue Aug 30 2011, 03:51 hrs

The Unique Identification project is a mission of surpassing ambition — it aims to provide every Indian citizen a unique 12-digit number that can be used to call up basic demographic and identity information through biometric scans. The government sees it as giving every Indian an acknowledged existence, ensuring that no one is locked out of social entitlements for the lack of a scrap of official paper. It hopes to ensure sharper targeting of welfare programmes, minimise leakages and collapse the many cumbersome IDs currently in use, into a single number. Critics of the project have focused on the privacy hazards and surveillance possibilities of the scheme. The UIDAI’s rationale has been that the clear benefits outweigh potential dangers to privacy, which can, in any case, be averted by strong safeguards.

However, the philosophical battle apart, the UID has a more concrete cost-benefit analysis to contend with. The project’s cost has escalated many times since it was first conceived in February 2009. A single UID, earlier estimated to cost around Rs 31 per person, may now end up in the Rs 400-500 territory. First, the finance ministry balked at the new levels of spending — partly data compilation costs, from designated registrars — and suggested the UID mesh its efforts with the national census wherever possible. It also wants to trim the biometric technology costs — the iris scan has nearly tripled the UID’s price tag. While the UID defends its choices, and says the high volume of iris devices and software demanded by India will bring the price down, others in the Planning Commission claim the iris scan was intended as an extra measure to prevent duplication, not thrown in with every ID. These are not arguments to be settled on notions, and it would be timely for the UID to make a persuasive case for its choice. The Planning Commission has also expressed its concern about the UID’s registrar system (which includes public and private companies), asking for clear lines of responsibility and supervision. The UIDAI had even suggested a cash incentive for some of these registrars, a plan that met with serious objection



Was this the email that took down RSA?

Aug 28th, 2011 | By | Category: News

A spear phishing email that has surfaced in a security database looks like it may have been the one to hit RSA

By Robert McMillan, IDG News Service
August 26, 2011 02:34 AM ET


“I forward this file to you for review. Please open and view it.”

As a ploy to get a hapless EMC recruiter to open up a booby-trapped Excel spreadsheet, it may not be the most sophisticated piece of work. But researchers at F-Secure believe that it was enough to break into one of the most respected computer security companies on the planet, and a first step in a complex attack that ultimately threatened the security of major U.S. defense contractors including Lockheed Martin, L-3 and Northrop Grumman.

The email was sent on March 3 and uploaded to VirusTotal, a free service used to scan suspicious messages, on March 19, two days after RSA went public with the news that it had been hacked in one of the worst security breaches ever.


Researchers at F-Secure, the company that discovered the message Monday, believe that it was very likely the message that led to the RSA compromise. If true, the finding sheds light on the kind of trickery, called social engineering by security pros, it takes to break into a major security company.

F-Secure anti-malware analyst Timo Hirvonen discovered the email message buried in the millions of submissions stored in this crowd-sourced database of malicious or potentially malicious files. VirusTotal lets computer users upload a suspicious file, say an Excel spreadsheet that might be infected, and have it scanned by over 40 of the world’s top antivirus companies. In return for the free scan, the AV vendors get to examine the files, making the service a great way of learning about malicious software after the fact.

Click to see: The email

Hirvonen had been searching VirusTotal’s database for the RSA attack file ever since RSA acknowledged that it had been compromised. The hackers had sent two different phishing emails to small groups of company employees over a two day period, but nobody outside of RSA and its parent company EMC knew the full contents of those messages. It wasn’t even clear if they were included in VirusTotal’s data.

RSA has released some details about the attack, but Hirvonen’s find is a first look at just what it took to get an EMC employee to open that dangerous attachment.

“The email was crafted well enough to trick one of the employees to retrieve it from their Junk mail folder, and open the attached Excel file,” wrote RSA Head of New Technologies Uri Rivner in the April 1 blog posting that laid out most of what RSA has said publicly about the email. “It was a spreadsheet titled “2011 Recruitment plan.xls.”

Hirvonen didn’t know for sure he’d find the email in VirusTotal, but he thought that there was a chance that someone at RSA had uploaded to see what it was. Searching for the 2011 Recruitment Plan spreadsheet yielded nothing, however.

But this month Hirvonen finished up a data analysis tool that allowed him to find his needle in the Virus Total haystack. His technique: he scoured the data for flash objects — software written to run in Adobe’s Flash Player — that looked like they may have been used in the RSA attack. RSA had previously said that the hackers used software that took advantage of a bug in Adobe Flash and offered some technical details on the attack.
“It was a difficult one to find,” Hirvonen said. “We had to work really hard to find it.”

With his new tool, Hirvonen quickly discovered a Microsoft Outlook .msg file. When he opened it up, he knew he was onto something. Inside was a message that had been spoofed to look like it had come from recruiting website “I forward this file to you for review. Please open and view it,” the message read. The subject: “2011 Recruitment plan.” The attachment: an Excel spreadsheet entitled “2011 Recruitment plan.xls”

Looking closer, Hirvonen found that the file seemed to match RSA’s description in possible every way. The Excel file contained the same Flash attack code; It used the same remote control software, called Poison Ivy, and it tried to connect to the same Internet address as RSA’s attacker.

The email was sent to EMC employees, apparently in the human resources department, and looked like it came from, a generic address from a website that has listed EMC jobs in the past. But that was a spoofed address, Hirvonen said. In reality the email wasn’t sent from the servers.



F-Secure believes that it’s one of the two spearphishing emails used to target RSA.

In the past, RSA characterized the hacking incident as an “extremely sophisticated cyberattack,” but if this is indeed the email used to break in, it illustrates a guiding principle of these cyber espionage attacks — the hackers will use anything that works, even simple tricks. If they fail, they will try again and again until they break through.

The key, security experts say, is in spotting the attackers and keeping them from moving around the network once they’ve broken in.

Reached Thursday, EMC’s RSA Security group was reluctant to say anything about the message. RSA wouldn’t say if there were any differences between Hirvonen’s email and the one that compromised the company. The company wouldn’t confirm that it was the one that got the attackers in, either. “Can we validate that this is the actual email?” said RSA spokeswoman Helen Stefan. “No.”

If this was the attack that wedged open RSA’s security, it wasn’t as sophisticated as others have been, said Alex Stamos, a partner with iSec Partners, a security consultancy that is part of NCC Group. “That’s a pretty embarrassing example for RSA,” he said. “It tells you that in any reasonably sized company, including a security company, there’s someone who will do something really dumb.”

Robert McMillan covers computer security and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Robert on Twitter at @bobmcmillan. Robert’s email address is




Biometric recognition and privacy concerns

Aug 14th, 2011 | By | Category: News

Face recognition software of the kind incorporated into biometric identification tools, photo-gallery applications and social media websites can be very useful but the technology raises privacy concern


Post by: crisisboomThe more you know, the better off you will be…



Face recognition software of the kind incorporated into biometric identification tools, photo-gallery applications and social media websites can be very useful but the technology raises privacy concerns, given the seeming ease with which faces in photos can now be tied to an individual. Researchers in Russia and Poland hope to take face recognition technology an important step forward with the even more powerful software they have developed.

Writing in the International Journal of Biometrics, Georgy Kukharev of Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University in Russia, and colleagues Paweł Forczmański and Andrzej Tujaka of the West Pomeranian University of Technology, Szczecin, Poland, explain how they have developed algorithms they refer to as two-dimensional Canonical Correlation Analysis (CCArc) and two-dimensional Partial Least Squares (PLSrc) for image matching where “rc” implies the analysis is applied to the images’ rows and columns.

Conventionally, scanning techniques based on CCA and PLS convert an image into a small set of variables, such as distance between eyes, width of jaw, and other factors. New images in which a face is to be identified are then categorized in the same way and the variables compared with those in the database. Correlation of a significant number of the variables gives a variable positive identification for the “new” face with one in the database and allows the software to verify with varying degrees of certain whether that new face is a specific individual in the database. The same technology can be used for biometric identification of a face on a driver’s license or on a social network, or for finding your friends and relatives in your photo collection.

The original algorithms for assessing and assigning variables are based on statistical methods developed in the 1930s. However, with the advent of more and more powerful computing, Forczmański and colleagues realized that these algorithms could be made much more powerful by measuring and analyzing many more variables in each image.

The team has extended the algorithms to utilize rows and columns and so generate a matrix for each image. They have tested them on known family databases as well as a photo gallery of their own creation with positive results. The algorithms perform well even with low-resolution images of faces and with varying lighting conditions and even if other objects, such as overhead lights or “loud” shirts are present in the photo. They have even developed a practical application that can find a person’s spouse given the presence of pairs of faces in single photographs.



Biometric Drivers License – PIRATE PARTY OF OKLAHOMA

Aug 25th, 2010 | By | Category: News


As the first results of our Endorsement Survey are arriving, and we feel that we need to clarify one of our questions and share our reasons for opposing a particular law in Oklahoma.

The Pirate Party of Oklahoma is not opposed to the inclusion of an identifying facial picture on drivers licenses issued to Oklahomans. Our drivers license was not created to be an ID card, it’s only purpose was to certify that the carrier of the license passed an examination by the Department of Public Safety and is authorized to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Oklahoma. For a law enforcement official to verify that the bearer of a license is the licensee in question, the official needs to be able to visually compare the person that is in possession of the license to the person the license was issued to. This objective is achieved by taking the picture at the time the license is issued and then printing it on the license.

The process we oppose is the collection of a biometric picture, in addition to biometric fingerprints, whenever a drivers license is being issued. Biometric facial pictures feature a higher resolution than is needed for a small picture on a license. This high resolution picture is then digitized, a biometric template is created, and together with a digital version of your fingerprint this information is stored in a database controlled by the Department of Public Safety.

Including a traditional photograph on your drivers license enables a law enforcement official to physically compare your face to the picture on the license. Taking your picture and adding your biometric profile stored in a database enables the Department of Public Safety to compare this profile to any other picture they want. This is already happening every time you renew your license, or when you change your address and have a new license issued. The Department of Public Safety takes a new biometric photo, converts it to a digital biometric profile, compares it with the previous biometric profile they have stored in your database, and if they match you get a new license.

The problem with technology like this is the always popular mission creep of our Government. Once the State of Oklahoma is in possession of your biometric profile, it can be used for many applications not originally indented by the legislators who wrote the law. Storing your biometric profile enables the state to use automated surveillance to monitor and log the activities of Oklahomans.

Using CCTV cameras already in use in many places, the state will be able to record crowds and use facial recognition software to scan the faces present at the event and match them to stored biometric profiles. Law enforcement officials would be able to use cameras mounted on vehicles to scan all the faces in a particular area and compare them to the database. Law enforcement officials on foot will be able to utilize hand-held video cameras to record your presence at a lawful rally, then scan all the faces and create a log of all people present. In short time the State of Oklahoma will have a database that shows that Oklahoman X was present at the Tea Party Rally, the Gay Pride Parade, and the Thunder playoff games. And by analyzing your past behavior, the state can anticipate your future actions.

While this might sound very futuristic and unlikely to many Oklahomans, we urge you to keep in mind that the same Department of Public Safety that is responsible for storing and using your Biometric Data is currently in the process of implementing an Automated License Plate Recognition System; one requirement of which is the ability to keep a database of the time and location each license plate was seen, even if no crime was committed.

Our Department of Public Safety has already demonstrated that given the opportunity to deploy an automatic system that gives them the ability to track the driving habits of any given vehicle in the state that passed the proposed camera systems, they will store this data even if no unlawful activity exists. This eagerness by the DPS to create a database of lawful activities does not give us much hope that they will be able to restrain themselves when it comes to the opportunity to perform additional monitoring of Oklahomans.

Oklahoma legislators are becoming increasingly aware of the threat created by technology such as this, and HB 2923 is a good example of turning towards the right path. HB 2923 would have deleted the biometric data stored by the Department of Public Safety, as well as requiring a return to non-biometric pictures on our license. If would also have prohibited the implementation of radio frequency identification technology , the use of which will require a separate article all together.

As Oklahomans who are concerned with privacy, and the increasing surveillance of our activities, we need to push our legislators to stop this invasive technology before it reaches a point of no return.


Aug 22nd, 2010 | By | Category: News

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has begun fingerprint checks with Australia as part of a biometric programme to strengthen border security and prevent identity fraud.

The programme will expand to include checks with the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States under the umbrella of the Five Country Conference (FCC), which has developed a system for securely – and with substantial privacy safeguards – matching fingerprint biometrics of persons of interest. Fingerprints of FCC citizens will not be shared“.

The system will help INZ combat fraud and strengthen border security by helping identify, early in the immigration process, people with criminal histories or those using false identities.

“Organised crime groups and illegal migrants are increasingly using identity and passport fraud to evade detection,” says Arron Baker, INZ’s Programme Manager for Identity and Biometrics.

“Biometrics uses technology to improve on traditional checks using names to detect and prevent these people from entering New Zealand. It is a fast, effective and privacy protecting way of quickly facilitating genuine clients while filtering out those who pose risks to New Zealand.”

INZ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship on 30 June 2010, and is now completing similar agreements with the UK, Canada and the US.

The Department of Labour completed a Privacy Impact Assessment of the system in close consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. This is available to the public at

G-4 visa holders are not required to submit their biometrics upon arrival to the USA

Jul 25th, 2010 | By | Category: News

Department of Homeland Security Report of the Chief Privacy Officer:


G-4 visa holders are exempt from US-VISIT procedures and are not required to submit their biometrics upon arrival at a port of entry in the United States. A G-4 visa is a type of nonimmigrant U.S. visa for employees of international organizations and members of their immediate families. US-VISIT received a redress letter by mail from a G-4 visa holder who had been erroneously fingerprinted. He requested that his fingerprints be deleted from the US-VISIT system. US-VISIT checked his records and discovered that his fingerprints had already been deleted from the system. No further action to correct his record at US-VISIT was required at the time. US-VISIT sent a letter to the individual indicating his biometrics had been deleted from the US-VISIT system.

Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2010 Report to Congress
Department of Homeland Security Report of the Chief Privacy Officer Pursuant to Section 803 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007
June 23, 2010

Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2010 Report to CongressDepartment of Homeland Security Report of the Chief Privacy Officer Pursuant to Section 803 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007June 23, 2010

Opposition Grows Opposing Biometric National ID Card

Apr 17th, 2010 | By | Category: News

Written by RSN Press Release,  SATURDAY, 17 APRIL 2010 15:40

The Rutherford Institute Joins with Broad Coalition to Urge White House and Members of Congress to Oppose Biometric National ID Card

Groups Insist That Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Respect Civil Liberties and Privacy

WASHINGTON – The Rutherford Institute has joined with a broad coalition of groups urging the White House, the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to oppose a proposal by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would include a biometric national ID card in comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

Signatories to the letter opposing the national ID card are from across the political spectrum and include advocates for privacy, consumer rights, gun owners, limited government and religious liberty.

(A copy of the coalition’s letter is available bellow)

“No one disputes that our broken immigration system harms both immigrants and non-immigrants, but a full scale National ID system is not the solution,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “A National ID would not only violate privacy by helping to consolidate data and facilitate tracking of individuals, it would bring government into the very center of our lives by serving as a government permission slip needed by everyone in order to work.”

A biometric ID card, like the kind under consideration for inclusion in the comprehensive immigration reform legislation being considered by Congress, is a national system for identifying individuals that is used to determine if they are eligible for rights and benefits-a classic national ID. In order to create a biometric ID, every worker in America would have to present a birth certificate and other identification documents, then have his or her biometric, like a fingerprint, captured.

In its letter, the coalition stated, “A National ID would not only violate privacy by helping to consolidate data and facilitate tracking of individuals, it would bring government into the very center of our lives by serving as a government permission slip needed by everyone in order to work.” Both Republicans and Democrats have opposed a National ID system. President Reagan likened a 1981 proposal to the biblical “mark of the beast,” and President Clinton dismissed a similar plan because it smacked of Big Brother. Furthermore, as the letter points out, contrary to the contentions of Senators Schumer and Graham, it would be impossible to create such a system without establishing a national database-a central electronic repository-of Americans’ personal information.

Every government identification system currently in existence requires a database. Databases are necessary in order to reissue lost or stolen cards and as a check on fraud and abuse. Without record keeping, the same Social Security number and birth certificate could be used again and again to issue new cards to different people-defeating the entire purpose of the system. Such a central repository will be irresistible to identity thieves, hackers and those who want to misuse personal information for crimes like stalking.


April 14, 2010

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Re: Oppose Schumer/Graham Biometric National ID Proposal within Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Dear Senator:

We write today to express our opposition to a proposal by Senators Charles Schumer (D – NY) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC) to create a biometric Social Security card – one that relies on personal characteristics like fingerprints to identify individuals. No one disputes that our broken immigration system harms both immigrants and non-immigrants, but a full scale National ID system is not the solution.

Both Republicans and Democrats have opposed a National ID system. President Reagan likened a 1981 proposal to the biblical “mark of the beast,” and President Clinton dismissed a similar plan because it smacked of Big Brother. A National ID would not only violate privacy by helping to consolidate data and facilitate tracking of individuals, it would bring government into the very center of our lives by serving as a government permission slip needed by everyone in order to work. As happened with Social Security cards decades ago, use of such ID cards would quickly spread and be used for other purposes – from travel to voting to gun ownership.

Contrary to the contentions of Senators Schumer and Graham, it would be impossible to create such a system without establishing a national database – a central electronic repository – of Americans’ personal information. Every government identification system currently in existence requires a database. Databases are necessary in order to reissue lost or stolen cards and as a check on fraud and abuse. Without record keeping, the same Social Security number and birth certificate could be used again and again to issue new cards to different people – defeating the entire purpose of the system. Such a central repository will be irresistible to identity thieves, hackers and those who want to misuse personal information for crimes like stalking. The cost of this system will be extraordinary, running to hundreds of billions of dollars and dwarfing the expense associated with other parts of immigration reform. As one example, the federal government recently began to issue a limited number of biometric ID cards, called Transportation Worker Identification Credentials. It is estimated that the Department of Homeland Security will spend $1.9 billion to issue cards to approximately 1 million workers.

Expanded to the entire US workforce of 150 million people, that would translate to a proportionately greater cost of $285 billion. A biometric system would likely have to be fee based – requiring not just government permission, but also a government fee to work. Adding insult to injury, this unaffordable scheme will probably never work. Even ignoring the enormous difficulties of creating a system to fingerprint every worker and distributing readers to employers across the country, the truth is that some employers prefer the ambiguity of the current process.

Unless significantly greater resources are dedicated to enforcing the law, employers will continue to have a strong incentive to circumvent a broken system. Such enforcement could be accomplished just as easily without a National ID.

A biometric ID system would be controversial and unpopular with constituencies across the ideological spectrum. It would require the fingerprinting of every American worker – not just immigrants. It would also require the creation of a bureaucracy that combines the worst elements of the Transportation Security Administration and state Motor Vehicle Departments. For all of these reasons we believe that a National ID system should play no part in the otherwise needed reform of our immigration system.


American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

American Policy Center

Americans for Tax Reform

Bill of Rights Defense Committee


Campaign for Liberty

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Citizen Outreach

Citizens Against Government Waste

Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Watchdog

Cyber Privacy Project

Defending Dissent Foundation, Inc.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Equal Justice Alliance

Former Congressman Bob Barr

Hispanic Leadership Fund

Home School Legal Defense Association

Indian American Republican Council

Liberty Coalition

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Lawyer’s Guild–National Office

National Whistleblower Center

Patient Privacy Rights

Privacy Activism

Privacy International

Privacy Journal

Privacy Lives

Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Privacy Times

PrivacyRightsNow Coalition

Rutherford Institute

The 5-11 Campaign

The Identity Project

The Multiracial Activist

U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

World Privacy Forum

Crackdown on terror credit cards

Apr 13th, 2010 | By | Category: News

Pradeep Thakur, TNN - The Times of India

NEW DELHI: After seeking information from the US authorities on who picked up the tab for Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley’s credit cards, security agencies have launched a crackdown against terror suspects using international cards as a mode of funding their operations in India.

In two operations in Lucknow and Delhi, intelligence agencies with the help of local police seized more than 65 international credit cards with at least Rs 4-5 crore withdrawn on them and distributed to sleeper cells, sources said.

In the first operation, the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the UP police last month recovered 20 international cards from two individuals in Lucknow after a close surveillance revealed that they were using the credit cards to draw money and pass it on to sleeper cells in the city on the instructions of Nepal-based masterminds.

In a similar action in the national Capital, officials of the Delhi Police raided a resident in Rohini and recovered 45 international credit cards from his possession along with Rs 6 lakh in cash. Initial questioning of the accused in both the cases that the revealed money was paid in Nepal and the operatives in Lucknow and Delhi were instructed to withdraw it and pass it on to contacts as per orders.

While the income tax department is on the job to map the economic footprint of these jehadis within the country, the government has roped in the Enforcement Directorate to register and investigate each of these cases to identify the sources of transactions made in foreign countries on these cards and further investigate the cases under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Meanwhile, the government is in touch with the authorities in US and Canada to ascertain who had paid for the credit card bills of Headley and other accused linked to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

A year-long investigation in the use of international credit cards by terror suspects in India has revealed that at least Rs 20-25 crore had been spent by them in the recent past across the country. These credit cards were issued in US, Canada, UK, Dubai, Nepal and Bangladesh and the bills were picked up by terror masterminds based there. Agencies are identifying all such payment gateways, their beneficiaries and sponsors.

The authorities are hopeful of busting the terror and narcotics syndicates by establishing a link between the users of such credit cards and their masterminds who are picking up the tab. Though the FBI has shared some details with the National Investigation Agency while referring to Headley’s co-accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana’s company, World Immigration Service, as one of the funding sources which also provided him a cover for his jehadi mission, it is not yet clear who picked up Headley’s credit card bills in the US.

Sources said Pakistan-based jehadi outfits are using the new modus operandi to fund their operatives in India without alerting the security agencies as the earlier hawala mode of funding had come under close surveillance.

Obama & Co. Want National Biometric ID

Apr 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: News



The Government(s) intend to use Biometrics as an ultimate authentication tool, can they let the private sector use, collect or even share “Governmental” Biometric records?

Are they wonder whether companies will sell biometric data of our body parts the way they sell email addresses and phone numbers?

hoto of Senators Schumer (left) and Graham: AP Images

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is teaming up with the Obama administration to legalize illegal immigrants and require biometric national ID cards for every American worker, prompting a swift and bipartisan backlash across the nation.

The proposal would unconstitutionally force nearly all Americans to obtain the new “tamper proof” Social Security cards while purporting to require that all employers purchase new $800 ID scanners. It would also provide a “path to citizenship” for the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal immigrants currently living in America.

Led by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, pro-amnesty and national ID legislators have already started the public relations campaign to build support for the “new and improved” version of “comprehensive immigration reform.” In a column published by the Washington Post entitled “The right way to mend immigration,” the two architects provided a superficial glimpse at their agenda. And though the piece is lacking in details, it reveals a dangerous agenda that Americans must oppose in order to maintain freedom.

“Our plan has four pillars: requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here,” wrote Graham and Schumer. “We would require all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants who want jobs to obtain a high-tech, fraud-proof Social Security card.”

The national ID cards would include a “unique biometric identifier,” according to Graham and Schumer. Some of the likely candidates include finger prints, retinal scans, or even the layout of a person’s veins in the top of their hand. Employers who refuse to “swipe the card” would face “stiff fines” and “prison sentences,” the Senators noted. “Our blueprint also creates a rational system for admitting lower-skilled workers,” they added.

President Obama promptly signaled his approval and pledged to “act at the earliest possible opportunity.” The White House released a statement noting that the President would do everything in his power to push the issue, and Obama called the Schumer-Graham proposal “a promising, bipartisan framework which can and should be the basis for moving forward.”

After the Democrats recent success in ramming through the wildly unpopular health care “reform,” analysts suggested the “momentum” from that victory could help Obama and the Democrats in their efforts to pass a variety of legislation – including immigration “reform.” And despite broad opposition by a majority of Americans, the agenda marches forward.

But the proposals are already meeting fierce resistance from legislators, citizens and non-profit groups. “This so-called comprehensive immigration reform really means amnesty for the 10 to 20 million illegal immigrants in America today,” explained Republican Representative Brian Bilbray of California, the chairman of the House Immigration Reform Caucus. “What part of the word ‘illegal’ doesn’t the president understand?”

Congressman Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty sent out an e-mail to supporters vowing to battle the proposal as well, warning that it was a “statist’s dream” and that the immigration issue was being used as “cover” for an even bigger agenda.

“Instead of controlling the border and enforcing the rule of law, these statists want to control you,” explained the group’s president, John Tate. “Allowing our government to have this much ‘prying power’ in our lives will ultimately result in the TOTAL loss of freedom.”

Tate noted in the letter that this sort battle often determines whether a country will remain free or descend into tyranny. “You see, once ‘well-meaning’ government bureaucrats know exactly how we live our lives, it won’t be long until they try to run them,” added Tate. “In fact, it will only be a matter of time until they spend their workdays making sure you and I don’t go anywhere we ‘shouldn’t,’ buy anything we ‘shouldn’t,’ read anything we ‘shouldn’t,’ eat anything we ‘shouldn’t’ or smoke anything we ‘shouldn’t.’”

In the media, commentators have also blasted the proposal. “Graham’s [Republican In Name Only] tactics will enable the President to turn illegal aliens into documented Democrats.  And in the process, hand the Federal Government yet another way to monitor and control our lives,” explained Roger Hedgecock in a piece for Human Events. “Opposition to this tyranny will come from all parts of our divided political spectrum,” he predicted.

And indeed, even the liberal American Civil Liberties Union is gearing up to fight the “bipartisan” effort. “It is fundamentally a massive invasion of people’s privacy,” said Chris Calabrese, the ACLU’s legislative counsel. “We’re not only talking about fingerprinting every American, treating ordinary Americans like criminals in order to work. We’re also talking about a card that would quickly spread from work to voting to travel to pretty much every aspect of American life that requires identification.”

These amnesty and biometric national ID proposals are dangerous for a lot of reasons. And this battle is a crucial one. The Social Security cards will quickly go from being required to work — which is bad enough itself — to being needed for everything imaginable, from health care to everyday purchases. But the problem is not a lack of biometric ID cards for the serfs; it is the wide open Southern border and the unconstitutional incentives encouraging illegal immigration.

Legalizing the tens of millions of illegal immigrants will harm America on several fronts. Not only does it send a loud message that the rule of law means nothing (except if it furthers statist aims), it will also fundamentally alter the voting dynamics of America. The true solution to the illegal immigration crisis is to stop providing perks like welfare to law breakers, and to properly police the border and defend the states from invasion.

Citizens must unite to defeat this effort. If Obama and his allies like Senator Graham manage to force this monstrosity on the American people, the last remaining semblances of freedom will be in critical danger. Americans already said no to amnesty under former President George W. Bush. Why would adding an unconstitutional national ID scheme with biometric data make it any more desirable? This is not the “change” people voted for, and it must be opposed.

Photo of Senators Schumer (left) and Graham: AP Images

Biometric ePassport is Cloneable – How it happened, who will benefit, and how hard will it be to counterfeit these things.

Mar 17th, 2010 | By | Category: News

The EU’s own working group FIDIS (the “Future of Identity in the Information Society” research network) said safeguards on the biometric ePassports with embedded Chip were too weak.

By: Michael Scott Moore | March 17, 2010 | 05:00 AM (PDT)

One detail from the assassination last month of a Hamas leader in Dubai should, at first glance, ease the minds of privacy experts. None of the hit team — widely suspected to be Israeli Mossad agents traveling under stolen identities — used newfangled biometric passports. The 11 members of the team traveling with falsified European identities, used old-fashioned, unchipped passports, according to Interpol.

Biometric passports were one of the most powerful and unobtrusive changes to international travel that the United States insisted on after Sept. 11, 2001. As a direct result of U.S. pressure, all EU governments introduced more-expensive passports after 2006 that included RFID microchips to broadcast basic personal information, including name and passport number, your photograph, your fingerprints, and (if it’s been collected) a retina scan of your eye.

Washington demanded these passports from friendly countries that maintained visa-free travel agreements with the United States. To stay in the visa-waiver program, Washington said after 2001, friendly nations would have to upgrade their passports to high-tech, microchipped “ePassports” with machine-readable data.

The new documents belonged to what Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff once envisioned as “a worldwide system of tripwires,” set off by personal data, “that make it easy for the vast amount of travelers to move along unimpeded but that make it dangerous and difficult for terrorists to do the same thing.”

But they upset privacy experts who argued that RFID chips radiated unsecured personal details to the world, making it easy for criminals with a simple machine to read them. The EU’s own working group FIDIS (the “Future of Identity in the Information Society” research network) said safeguards on the first biometric passports were too weak.

“By failing to implement an appropriate security architecture,” the group wrote in 2006, “European governments have effectively forced their citizens to adopt new international Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs), which dramatically decrease security and privacy, and increase the risk of identity theft.”

After 2006, both America and the EU gave “second-generation” e-passports a measure ofsecurity” though whether they’re really a safe way to carry your data around will be a topic for a future column. The “Crypto Group” at Belgium’s University Catholique de Louvain, says no, and Europol argues that the supposedly secure passports are still vulnerable to counterfeiting by “determined” criminals.

But it’s significant that the team of assassins in Dubai who killed the Hamas commander, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, used old-fashioned passports. Any group willing to send an international hit team after a man would have to qualify as “determined,” and Mossad, according to Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad officer interviewed recently on Australian radio, has a passport “factory” dedicated to making counterfeits. “They create various types of papers, every kind of ink,” he said. “It’s a very, very expensive research department.”

So the new ePassports are possibly too much of a headache ”for now” for such a sophisticated operation. But tests carried out by The Times of London in 2008 suggested that falsifying an ePassport wasn’t complicated at all, so there could be another reason why Mossad might have avoided using biometric documents. Namely: The databases themselves might be vulnerable.

Jerusalem hasn’t started to issue ePassports yet, and one argument used by their opponents in Israel is that an entire national database of personal details could be hacked and revealed wholesale to a government unfriendly to Israel — say, the United Arab Emirates. Then the border guards in that country would have a way of double-checking the identity of, say, a Mossad agent trying to enter. Then “every Israeli agent who gives his fingerprint at a biometric border control station is liable to be in danger of exposure,” according to the Israeli paper Ha’aretz.

“The fear … is not unfounded,” the paper continues. “A similar database, containing the identity details of Israeli citizens, was leaked a few years ago from the Interior Ministry and can be download today, for free.”

But Rafi Eitan, an Israeli politician and former Mossad officer, believes the agency’s intelligence talents will catch up. “By 2015 most countries will have moved over to biometric identification methods,” he told Ha’aretz. But “… this will not affect the various intelligence activities in the future, because I assess that the organizations engaging in this will find suitable ways to overcome the difficulties ”should there be any.”

There may come a time, in other words, when you’ll need the trappings of a government to do something as tricky as counterfeit a passport.

VIDEO: Cloning passport card RFIDs in bulk for under $250

Biometric: REAL “Dangerous” ID

Jan 31st, 2010 | By | Category: Articles

By: The Kentucky Anti Real ID

The concept of a National ID card has been around for quite some time, back to at least the creation of the Social Security Number (SSN), and while (SSN) is a form of identification, it is not a National ID card in the sense that is being promoted in our time. The push for a National ID card in the modern era started back in the 80′s during the Reagan administration. Reagan, being the type of man he was, knew exactly what this would lead to and flat out rejected the concept. It was brought up in the Clinton administration as well, and while opposition to it was not as strong as Reagan’s, Clinton also did not sign off on a National ID card. Unfortunately, though the times have changed, I feel we can no longer trust our Federal government to operate in our best interest; it has severely broken with the Constitution and the ideals that founded this union. After 9/11 everyone was scared, angry, wanted protection from terrorism, and in that hysteria, most people did not care what it was or how it worked. As a result we got the PATRIOT Act written two years before 9/11 that gives the government the authority, among other things, to enter your house when you’re not there and to take anything. It’s called a “sneak and peak” (and they say trust us on healthcare). The Military Commission Act (MCA) was passed that has language so vague that it could catch average citizens in the category of a “threat” to the government and warrant the same treatment our government gives terrorists. During the process of making us safer a National ID card also became law in 2005 that was tacked onto a tsunami relief and military spending bill as a national security measure meant to guard against terrorism, illegal immigration and identity theft. Being attached to the type of bill that it was guaranteed no opposition, and so it sailed right through Congress straight to the President where it became law.

I will now remind everyone at this juncture what a couple of founding fathers has to say about Liberty and Security:

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

-Thomas Jefferson

“Those willing to sacrifice Liberty for Security will get neither and deserve neither”

-Benjamin Franklin

The issue of REAL ID and all it entails is too complex to give in this medium, but I will give a brief overview and then direct you to a few sites where you can get all the dirty details. REAL ID is not just a National ID card but much more as it is an INTERNATIONAL ID card. When REAL ID became law, DHS had a non-negotiated rule making process, and so they inserted international regulations. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency, are the ones charged with setting the ISOs for identification programs of the various participating countries, and there are a lot that are participating. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) will be the entity that will see to the implementation of REAL ID. AAMVA is American in name only. As they state on their website they are an international organization. Then there are the corporations, most prominently, a company called L1-Identity Solutions. This corporation has a monopoly on identification cards (i.e. drivers licenses) like Microsoft does on computer operating systems.

The required data on these cards will not just be our physical attributes for identification purposes but our religious, political, educational, medical, financial, sexual, firearms, and biometric data will be on this card. Considering the fact that all our information will be on this card and that the state DMV databases will have to be linked and consolidated, the information will be held primarily by one corporation, and our government will be sharing it with any “nation” of the world such as Canada, England, Mexico, Australia, Russia, China, or Iran to name very few. There is no possible way for our information to remain secure. The more information or data on us that is compiled and shared, the more likely it will be stolen (130 million credit card numbers stolen). Note that one of the pieces of data that will be collected is biometric. When most people think biometric, they think fingerprints, iris scans, DNA; however, the biometric of choice is facial recognition because it can be taken without your knowledge or consent. A mathematical algorithm will be used based on your facial features to assign you a specific number. Law enforcement personnel do not need numbers to identify you, but a camera and computer surely does, and we are well on our way to being a surveillance society more than you think we are.

Biometrics, Retinal Scanning, and the Right to Privacy in the 21st Century

Jan 31st, 2010 | By | Category: Articles

By: Stephen Patrick Hoffman, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities


Biometric identification techniques such as retinal scanning and fingerprinting have now become commonplace, but near-future improvements on these methods present troubling issues for personal privacy. For example, retinal scanning can be used to diagnose certain medical conditions, even ones for which the patient has no symptoms or has any other way of detecting the problem. If a health insurance company scans the retinas of potential clients before they purchase coverage, they could be charged higher premiums for conditions that do not present any issues. Not only is this unfair, but the ease with which these scans can be conducted—including scanning without the subject’s consent or knowledge—present disturbing privacy concerns and suggest an Orwellian future, instead controlled by Big Business rather than Big Brother.


Imagine it is the year 2030. As you walk down your street to visit your favorite coffee shop, a camera mounted at the nearest intersection tracks your movements. Initially, you are just a set of pixels transmitted to a video screen somewhere; however, after your movement has been picked up by the camera, it uses algorithms based on general body and skull structure to pinpoint the location of your eyes. Once the camera has found your eyes, it projects an infrared beam of light into your eyes which would not be noticed because infrared light is not visible to the human eye. Using the reflection of the light from your retinas and choroids, the camera photographs the vasculature structure of your eyes and runs it against a database of known criminals, immigrants, and even people dissenting from popular opinion. If your retinal pattern matches that of a person listed in the database, the computer transmits this information to the proper authorities. All of this happens before you even step through the door of the coffee shop. This Orwellian1 future of an omnipotent Big Brother is not consistent with a free democracy subservient to the people.

However, this is not the only worrisome issue presented by this scenario—what if private companies, instead of the government, are the ones running those cameras? What if a health insurance company installs these cameras outside its offices to identify individuals and detect disorders and illnesses before they walk through the door? Retinal vascular patterns have been shown to anticipate future illnesses as well as conclusively identify several illnesses that the individual suffers from, and many of these are hereditary or genetic conditions. If the insurance company knows what you are susceptible to before you are personally aware or have been notified of, and uses this to refuse coverage or charge a higher premium for the policy you apply for, they have appropriated something extremely private of yours without consent and may use this knowledge to profit from your supposed “condition,” regardless of whether those future or current illnesses have manifested or will manifest themselves. Why should such an intrusive procedure be allowed without any concern to the privacy rights of those being examined?

Suggested Citation

Stephen Patrick Hoffman. 2010. “Biometrics, Retinal Scanning, and the Right to Privacy in the 21st Century

Jill Schensul: Whole Body Scandal (“TSA Porn”)

Jan 26th, 2010 | By | Category: Articles

Should our body be considered a form of property to government?

Biometrics and Security should enhance rather than conflict with individual privacy and dignity. As stated by the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): “Human beings should never be treated as merely means to an end” – Namely, ‘Human beings are already the purpose, they must not be sacrificed to fulfill other purposes’.



OK, let’s calm down for a second. I think it’s time to put this issue on whole body scanning — aka “TSA porn” — in perspective.

Yes, these scanners can put together a good idea of what’s underneath our traveling clothes. That’s the point, after all, when looking for concealed weapons. But some privacy groups, passengers and elected officials watching out for our modesty think the results are a little too creepily lifelike. As Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, coiner of the TSA porn epithet, said: “Nobody needs to see my wife and kids naked to secure an airplane.”

The scans don’t exactly look like naked people. More like naked … avatars.

The TSA also says the machines have a program that blurs faces/identities. And they point out, on the Web page of information about the machines, that the scanner “does not store, print, transmit or save the image. All machines have zero storage capability and all images are automatically deleted from the system after they are reviewed by the remotely located security officer.” It’s not like you’ll be seeing yourself on some site in the future, or finding your head cloned onto some X-rated body.

Probably not, anyway.

An Internet watchdog group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center [EPIC], has obtained documents from the Department of Homeland Security suggesting that the TSA wasn’t being transparent about what the machines can do; apparently, there’s a “test mode” that does allow for data storage and the export of images. Only employees with high-level clearance can access this particular mode, though, and certainly those folks are too busy poring over lists of terrorists and the like to be unleashing such unflattering images upon cyberspace.

‘Virtual strip search’

No matter what their ultimate fate, even subjecting travelers to these scans is an egregious invasion of privacy — tantamount, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, to a “virtual strip search.”

Hello? When was the last time these protesters went through a security check?

Invasion of privacy is what it’s all about. A veritable humiliation, violation marathon, from shoe removal to pocket-emptying, from undoing belts to declaring underwire bras, from swabbing our laptops to disassembling our carry-ons and pawing through purses. And the ultimate de-privatization – usually reserved for the beep-producers – is to be ordered into wanding position, to stand in that Leonardo DaVinci arms-and-legs-spread mode and be subjected to hand scanning and hand-goosings that somehow seem to suck all the freedom out of your soul.

All done before an audience of your peers. Who get to watch the belts come off and the beer bellies bared and the plumber-butts revealed as the beltless pants begin sagging. All in all, I’ll take the scanner.

The more worrisome aspect of these new machines, to me, is the radiation issue. I just keep thinking of those rolls of fogged film I’d get back from the labs every so often. The long strip of nothing but eerie billows of gray, the fallout of overradiation.

So when the TSA tells us the new scanners’ X-rays are harmless, I think about the little sign they used to have at the security screening area, way back when, that assured us X-rays would not harm film up to 400 ASA. And I think about all that gray.

The TSA already has 40 whole body scanners at airports around the country, and, since the recent close call on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, has decided to buy and deploy nearly 450 more.

There are actually two types of scanners being tested. Experts in the field of radiation seem in agreement that millimeter wave technology, which uses radio frequency energy for scanning, is harmless.

Opinions vary on the safety of the backscatter machines, which use low-level X-rays. The dose of radiation is small – about 0.1 microrem of radiation, compared with 100 microrem for a chest X-ray or 10,000 microrem for a CT scan.

According to TSA officials, backscatter machines produce a clearer image.

Radiation danger?

In an article on the American College of Radiology’s Web site, Mayo Clinic neuroradiologist Peter Kalina questions the use of even small doses of ionizing radiation in non-medical applications. “The amount of radiation may be extremely small and safe, but parents have to grasp that their 4-year-old child is being subjected to radiation. Some parents will be concerned,” he says.

David J. Brenner, a Columbia University professor of radiation oncology and public health, worries about subjecting pregnant women to the scans, too. He also says that about 5 percent of the general population is radiosensitive, among them women who carry certain breast cancer genes.

The TSA says these scans will be voluntary – you can opt for the pat-down if you want.

Kalina is concerned about a potential scenario in which a less-developed nation might adopt backscatter scanning technology, but fail to keep its scanners calibrated. “As a traveler,” he has said, “I don’t know who’s checked that machine or equipment. Can I be sure there won’t be a larger dose of radiation coming from it?” I believe he said this before the recent discovery that 206 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles received eight times the normal dose of radiation from a CT scan machine with a computer-resetting error.

Risk-benefit analysis

But all these debates are secondary to the real question: Are the benefits worth the risks, hassle, humiliation and expense?

The new scanners might do a better job than the current technology but obviously have their drawbacks, and opinions vary on whether they can reliably detect weapons hidden in body cavities. And they’re simply an option – not even a terrorist can be forced into one.

The scanners are a good straw to grasp at after the latest high-profile oops in the security system was brought to light.

The problem is, every new measure is simply a reaction to the latest near-miss, a Band-Aid rather than a real systemic change for the better. Various tech companies that make the equipment will certainly benefit in the short term, but will the cost and the risks really benefit the war on terrorism and make us safer?

I’m with Bruce Schneier, an internationally recognized security technologist who said that while whole-body-imaging technology “works pretty well,” the financial investment is a mistake. He believes money would be better spent on intelligence-gathering and investigations.

“It’s stupid to spend money so terrorists can change plans,” he said by phone from Poland, where he was speaking at a conference. If terrorists are swayed from going through airports, they’ll just target other locations, such as a hotel in Mumbai, India, he said.

But the orders are already in for another 100 of these machines. So, well, we’ll deal with it. I’m going to opt for the whole scan thing, especially if I don’t have to take off my shoes. And the new option should at least cut down on the incidence of plumber butt.

But technology is just one link in the security system.

And as the recent incident shows, no matter how much intelligence we gather, no matter how many alert systems we put in place, they’re useless if ignored.

Biometric: FBI found on Google a photo of what an aged Osama bin Laden might look like

Jan 17th, 2010 | By | Category: News

The FBI says the used an image found on Google of Spanish lawmaker Gasper Llamazares, right, to create a digitally altered photo of what an aged Osama bin Laden might look like, as reported by El Mundo. Madrid, Spain – A Spanish lawmaker says he was stunned to find that the FBI used his photograph as part of a digitally enhanced image showing what Osama bin Laden might look like today.

Gaspar Llamazares says he would no longer feel safe in the U.S. after his hair and other features appeared on a wanted poster showing an older bin Laden on a U.S. government Web site A reward of up to $25 million is offered.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo, which noted the similarities between the bin Laden composite and Mr. Llamazares, quotes FBI spokesman Ken Hoffman as acknowledging that the agency used a picture of Llamazares taken from Google Images for the digitally altered image of bin Laden.

The photo appeared on a U.S. State Department Web site, where a reward of up to $25 million is offered for bin Laden, wanted in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya.

Llamazares said he planned to ask the U.S. government for an explanation and reserved the right to take legal action.

FBI headquarters in Washington did not respond immediately when asked for comment Saturday, requesting that questions be sent to them by e-mail. The State Department told a reporter to call back Tuesday after the U.S. federal holiday on Monday.

Llamazares said he couldn’t believe it when he was first told about the similarity, but he quickly realized the seriousness of the situation.

The 52-year-old politician said he would not feel safe traveling in the U.S. now, because many airports use biometrics technology that compares the physical characteristics of travelers to passport or other photographs.

“I have no similarity, physically or ideologically, to the terrorist bin Laden,” he said.

They do share on characteristic — both are 52.

Jose Morales, spokesman for Llamazares’ party, told the Associated Press that no one in Spain had any idea that important security computer images such as the retouched bin Laden photo were built up from photographs of real people. Llamazares, the former leader of his party, was elected to Spain’s parliament in 2000.

Llamazares said it was worrying to see elite security services like the FBI resorting to such sloppy techniques, especially in the light of recent security alerts like the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound airplane.

“It might provoke mirth, but it demonstrates that what we’re seeing from security services isn’t exactly recommendable,” he said.

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in the lawless Pakistan frontier bordering Afghanistan. His exact whereabouts have been unknown since late 2001, when he and some bodyguards slipped out of the Tora Bora mountains, evading air strikes, U.S. special forces and Afghan militias.

The U.S. State Department Web site shows the photos and bounty on bin Laden and 41 others wanted for terrorism.