a key technology of the police state
HP to build EU's biometric ID, terror database
By John Lettice
Published Thursday 28th April 2005 16:26 GMT
A consortium headed by Hewlett-Packard is to develop Europe's 'Big Brother' system for the European Commission. Along with Steria, Mummert in Germany and Primesphere in Luxembourg, HP is to produce a "high-quality technology model" for the second generation of the Schengen Information System (SIS) II and the Visa Information System (VIS) - Europe's Justice and Home Affairs Committee envisages these two systems replacing a border control system (SIS I) with a far more pervasive one of surveillance, controls and information exchange.
Security and interop issues cause EU biometric passport delays
By John Lettice
Published Friday 1st April 2005 08:48 GMT
The European Union has asked the US to put back its biometric passport deadline for another year, citing "data security and interoperability of reading devices" as issues that still needed to be resolved. Meanwhile, data security is becoming a major issue in the run up to the planned rollout of US biometric passports later this year. The current deadline, after which the US will require biometric passports for non-visa travellers, is 26th October 2005, but EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini has asked for this to be put back to August 28th 2006.
The most serious of the problems Frattini describes with some understatement as "still being finalised" relates to the planned use of a contactless chip to house the passport's data, and the security mechanisms used to protect that data from unauthorised readers. Contactless means (at least in theory) that travellers can breeze through the barriers with a wave of their passport, thus speeding their progress towards whatever destination immigration officials choose to assign them. But contactless also means that the data is vulnerable to snooping, and it should not take too much effort for would-be snoopers to produce devices that will read the passport data from a greater distance than the designers would wish.
EU: Compulsory fingerprinting for all passports
SIS II takes ominous shape
- SIS set to become the EU's "Big Brother" database
- EU security and intelligence agencies to have access to all SIS data
"Requirements" for SIS II, the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS) have been outlined by the EU. The proposals would introduce a number of new functions for the SIS, allow more types of personal information to be retained, provide wider access to law enforcement and administrative agencies and reduce data protection standards. ...
The document also suggests biometrics records that would be linked by "SIS II to national databases for… facial/iris recognition, number plate recognition and fingerprint identification". In addition it is proposed to create "new categories of objects for the purpose of seizure, use as evidence in criminal proceedings or surveillance" and to record every search on the SIS that is carried out. It is claimed that this would allow greater data protection supervision although it would also expose enquiries by authorities in one member states to those of all the others.
Finger, faceprints get green light for Europe's ID standard
Fingerprints to become compulsory for all EU passports
U.S. moving with switch to 'biometric' passports
Oct. target won't be met, but trial run set for fall
By Frank James
Originally published May 15, 2004
WASHINGTON - In the near future, Americans returning from abroad will have their faces scanned by cameras at ports of entry, then compared by computer to digitized photos encoded on high-tech chips in their passports for verification.
The goal is to prevent known terrorists from entering the country and to make the use of stolen passports virtually impossible.
Because such biometric identification incorporates a person's unique
physical characteristics, including fingerprint swirls or iris patterns,
it is considered the best method yet invented of authenticating someone's
The State Department plans to start issuing the first biometric passports in a trial run in the fall and hopes to ramp up to full production next year. Those who have traditional passports would not replace them with the biometric ones until they expire.
"In the case of the passport, what we're trying to do, not just the U.S. but the international community, is to help ensure for the border inspector that the person carrying that passport is the person to whom that passport was initially issued by that government," said Frank Moss, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for passport services.
"In the lexicon, it's called a one-to-one match."
Other countries also are moving to issue the enhanced passports, spurred by relatively new U.S. laws that would bar U.S. immigration and border officials from accepting traditional passports from certain nations.
While it's not happening as fast as Congress wanted - lawmakers had given an October deadline to the industrialized nations of Europe and Asia whose citizens do not need visas to enter the United States - the shift to biometric passports appears firmly on course.
"There's no question of the will of those other countries and the U.S. to incorporate biometrics, but it has challenging technical, scientific and operational issues, and it just takes time to resolve those problems," Moss said.
The global effort has been slowed by the need to determine such matters as whether the chips would last 10 years, the standard period for which U.S. passports are issued.
Questions of privacy also had to be addressed because the chips will use radio frequency identification technology to transmit data. Without protection, the technology theoretically might allow people - identity thieves, for example, or intelligence agents other than immigration officials - to electronically, and surreptitiously, determine the identity of a passport holder.
It has also taken time for the 27 participating nations, including Japan, Australia and many European countries, to agree on standards that allow their biometric passports to be read in other countries.
"The challenge of interoperability and ensuring that the data that's written to the chips is secure ... are issues that are just taking longer to resolve than anybody expected," Moss said.
Those delays caused Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to ask Congress last month for a two-year extension on the deadline for other nations to add biometric information to their passports.
Though the initial deadline will not be met, it was prudent to press the issue, some say.
"It's always good to create a deadline and have the industry and government agencies do their level best to reach it," said Joseph Atick, head of Identix, a biometrics technology company. "I think the deadline was a great motivator to make governments, especially abroad, realize that we were serious."
The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun
Yahoo! News Wed, Dec 25, 2002
Kroger Lets Shoppers Pay Via Fingerprint
Tue Dec 24, 1:34 PM ET
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Suppose you endured the checkout line at the grocery store only to find that you were short on cash, or you'd forgotten your wallet. What if you could settle the bill with just the touch of your finger?
Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR - news), the largest U.S. supermarket chain, is offering some customers just that opportunity, testing finger imaging as a method of payment in three of its Texas stores.
A machine scans the index finger, matching the customer's unique fingerprint with the individual's account.
The company avoids the term "fingerprinting" because of its law enforcement connotation -- the same reason the technology is applied to the index finger, rather than the thumb.
Customers can register for the voluntary program by presenting a drivers license, an index finger and a method of payment -- either credit card, debit card or electronic check.
"Early indications are that it's being well received by the customer, the new technology is performing well, and it is saving both time and money," said Gary Huddleston, manager of consumer affairs for Kroger's Southwest division.
The company has been testing finger imaging in the Texas towns of Bryan and College Station for about nine months. About 10,000 customers are currently participating.
Students from nearby Texas A&M University have been particularly receptive, as have "surprisingly, many of our seniors," Huddleston said.
Cincinnati-based Kroger has not yet made plans to roll finger imaging out to more stores, as it is still in the test phase, Huddleston said.
Fla. Sheriff's Office Plans Camera System In Cruisers
Pictures Of Faces Downloaded Into Facial Recognition System
POSTED: 6:56 am EDT June 17, 2004
LARGO, Fla. -- The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is outfitting patrol cars with a camera system that will allow deputies to take digital photos of people, whose faces will then be matched against a database of felons and fugitives.
Fifty vehicles will carry a digital camera and a laptop computer with special software. Deputies will snap pictures of people at traffic stops or during investigations and download the photos into a facial recognition system.
A carefully crafted city policy requires deputies to ask the subject for permission to take the picture, but also allows them to try to take one from a public place.
"If we were secretly taking pictures, that could be an invasion of privacy," said Sheriff Everett Rice, who added subjects can always refuse, or turn away from a camera.
But Jay Stanley, who works with the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program, said people may be reluctant to refuse an officer.
"If you have an armed officer making a request of you, that's an inherently coercive situation," said Stanley. "There is really very little that is truly voluntary in that encounter."
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, airports across the nation have installed security systems that scan faces to identify criminals. Tampa police used the face-recognition technology during the 2001 Super Bowl and in the nearby entertainment district of Ybor City.
Pinellas officials installed systems at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in 2002, and at the county criminal courthouse and the county jail a year later. The four people tagged by the system at the courthouse and jail had already addressed the charges identified by the database.
The $250,000 cost to outfit 50 of the department's 550 marked cruisers will come out of a $8 million Department of Justice grant designed to improve community policing. One car is already carrying the technology, and 10 deputies were trained in its use on Wednesday.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.