Xeni Jardin at 5:56 am Wed, Apr 10, 2013
ADVERTISE AT BOING BOING!
Surely phrenology is a cheaper, more effective option: chances are if you’ve ever been a terror suspect, you’ve got a few skull fractures to show for it.
To be fair, this has nothing to do with phrenological personality assessments. This is about how you identify people who don’t have (or don’t care to reveal) legitimate forms of identification.
As I see it, there are three ways of doing it; fingerprints, DNA, or other biometrics. Fingerprints are problematic because they are commonly used for identifying criminals, and many people would object to being fingerprinted as a matter of course (it would be legal, I think, for immigration purposes but I still think it’s a bad idea). DNA has the same issues, but has the additional complication of protecting genetic privacy. “Other biometrics” such as using the iris or the vein pattern in a hand, offer some level of identification that is not currently associated with criminal behavior and doesn’t raise issues of medical confidentiality. So compared to the alternatives, It seems like a pretty good idea to me.
Remember; just because everything looks like a nail to a hammer, doesn’t mean it’s not actually a nail.
You’re assuming that biometrics works well enough to be useful in this context. Normally it’s all about the false positive rate, but in this case you’re checking to make sure that there isn’t a match so we’re interested in false negative rates, which biometric systems are far, far worse with. Once you throw in how easy it is to spoof these machines (to yield a negative, remember, not a positive) they quickly become useless. For example, if you ever feel like not being recognized by an iris scanner more often than not, try having a couple of drinks an hour earlier.
You think fingerprinting is a bad idea? I do too. Foreigners get fingerprinted every entry to the USA AND we get ripped off by ESTA for the privilege. I love going to the states once you get past ESTA, TSA and the hopelessly inefficient airports.
I didn’t realize we already fingerprint folks at the border – very interesting.
This is the way it starts, then suddenly you can’t swing a stick without hitting a Borg sympathizer.
Well, if it does come to pass, then what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Senators, representatives, and CEO’s as well, I say. I think that would be of great benefit to society.
‘Slootly. And we need to keep cameras permanently watching those guys too.
Yet again I wish Stephen Jay Gould was still around.
When you sell hammers everybody’s problems are all nails.
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