Having married and taken on a new last name, I recently had the pleasure of diving into a whole lot of paperwork. Or rather, diving online, as most of this bureaucracy has become electronic in the past few years – though this doesn’t really make it any easier.
Security-driven regulations have increased considerably, with biometric data continuously being taken. For example, photographers of passport photos have to be real specialists today – the size of the photo as well as your head on it have to be exact, and you need to look straight into the camera with your hair back, but do not smile! Border officials should not be distracted by a friendly face when trying to spot potential criminals...
Even the smallest municipality in Germany’s countryside is now equipped with devices to take citizen’s fingerprints – just place your right index finger, then your left finger on the scanner. No ink, that’s it.
This made me think a bit about current security developments.
The applications of biometric technology have only just begun. For example, the authorities at the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing will do their best to prevent ‘fake athletes’ from attending, as biometric technology has been used since Athens 2004 as a security measure against potential attacks. Another prominent example is Walt Disney World - in order to stamp out resold park passes, visitors must now leave their scanned fingerprints in the Disney security system.
However, characteristics such as palm structure, lip movements, keystroke dynamics, brain waves and more have barely been explored. The problem is that many believe the misuse of biometric information can never be completely avoided.
To prove this, German hacker group “Chaos Computer Club” published a fingerprint of our Home Secretary Wolfgang Schäuble in its magazine Die Datenschleuder. Vendors, therefore, are continually being challenged to better protect this data.
It’s certainly a controversial subject, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that most of these measures are ultimately designed to increase our security – and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, wouldn’t it actually be really nice to feel completely secure when travelling, attending large events, accessing your employer’s network or making purchases via the internet?