A View from Simson Garfinkel
Biometrics in ID Cards?
Americans say they want it. They’re wrong.
According to a recent poll by Truste, 82 percent of Americans “support the use of
biometric identification on passports,” 75 percent support adding biometrics to driver’s licenses, and 73 percent support adding it to social-security cards.
The survey polled 1,025 American consumers between September 25 and September 29, 2006. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent.
The survey has some contradictions. For example, 68 percent of the respondents believe that biometrics added to identity documents will make it harder for thieves to engage in identity theft, but 67 percent think that “criminals will find a way around the technology.”
The real problem with adding biometrics to identity documents isn’t that crooks will find a way around the technology, but that crooks will get identity documents that have your name but their biometrics. If you think identity theft is bad now, just imagine how bad it will be when the crook’s fake identity is verified through the
use of fingerprints or iris scans:
“Yes, your honor, we know that Mary Johnson was there, because she presented her identity card and had her iris scanned. That’s what the computer says, and the biometric backed it up.”
“Is the woman in the defendant’s chair the same woman who presented the ID card?”
“I don’t know, your honor. I didn’t look at her face. The computer did.”
Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.Subscribe today