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Protecting yourself

Biometric technology to be used in U.K. ID cards

Emily Crone

I’ve previously blogged about biometrics — technology that allows people to be identified or given access to secure places and objects through scanning of the eyes, fingers or voices. Biometric technology is currently used to access the secure digital wallet I wrote about, as well as gaining entry to Disney theme parks. Now the United Kingdom is beginning to require biometric identity cards for Americans staying in the country longer than 90 days.

A recent USA Today article says the cards are controversial in the U.K. due to privacy issues and concerns about data breaches, but are being used as a tool to fight against illegal immigration, terrorism, identity theft and benefits fraud.

“Foreigners’ ID cards, which will be about the size of a credit card, will contain a digital photo and details of the cardholders’ immigration status, whether they are allowed to work, receive government benefits and how long they can stay. It also will contain a ‘biographic footprint’ of personal history and ‘biometric data’ such as fingerprints on the cardholder,” the article says. The information will be stored in a database called the National Identity Register.

The cards will also be required of British citizens working in airports and other places vulnerable to terrorism by next year, and most British citizens are likely to have them by 2017, according to British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

While I admit this is an expensive endeavor that could potentially lead to a data breach if not well maintained, it’s an incredible measure against identity theft. Just imagine if credit cards came with this technology. If your finger, eye or voice needed to be scanned before a credit card purchase, perhaps in combination with a PIN number, think of how difficult it would be for a fraudster or identity thief to use your card. As prevalent as identity theft is today, our money would be so much safer with these biometric precautions.

What do you think?

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  • Robin

    Sorry, I don’t like the idea of big brother, read the book 1984.