The tales of the good, the bad, the ugly and the simply bizarre in security technologies are many and varied.
Let's start with the good.
U.S. consumers want companies and their governments to turn to biometrics to protect them. One recent report said that 63 percent of consumers believe that the rise in identity fraud and the insufficient protection of personal information will become a "significant security threat," according to a study done by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Unisys, a security technology and consulting company. They also believe financial institutions and the government are not doing enough to stop the threat.
Enter the government.
Northrop Grumman Corp. has won a contract to build a biometric identification system for the Defense Department that will integrate the Pentagon's global biometrics efforts. The system will be designed to provide the military with near-real-time capture or release of identification data. The system would be able to handle fingerprints along with facial, iris and palm identification.
If the Pentagon gets what it wants, can P.Q. Consumer continue to feel unwatched, unphotographed and unscrutinized for long?
The chance that the developed technology would be adapted for use on consumers may become the bad in our tale.
The really ugly part is when this biometric ID stuff starts to become pervasive, keeping track of our movements.
At the upcoming RFID World in September, Harold Clampitt, an RF fingerprinting expert and CEO of American RFID Solutions, will discuss the benefit of integrating RFID, biometrics and encryption algorithms to create a "feasible automated assignment and determination of various levels of trust. ... We desire the credential to have zero knowledge in the hands of a bad guy," said Clampitt.
That problem--defining the "bad guy"--could quickly turn the use of biometric technology into the bizarre experience.
According to Russia's Federal Migration Service, that country may totally switch over to "biometric passports" by 2010. Those identify the personality of a Russian citizen and contain an electronic chip carrying all the information about him or her. For its part, Iran plans to release biometric passports "for all applicants." So far, 34 countries have added biometric features to passports.
English Prime Minister Gordon Brown is also seeking protection from the "bad guy." And who can blame him?--there are plenty of bad people out there. He has told Parliament that "from March next year, we will extend biometric visas to all visa applicants."
This is all done in the name of protection from those bad guys, but I can't help but wonder whether this biometric stuff in our daily lives will make us feel safer. That's because one thing is still missing: where is the true truth meter to gauge the intentions of our souls?