Biometric voter enrollment engenders rewards and risks

Ensuring quick and precise voter enrollment and identification is the cornerstone of any credible election. Biometric systems are increasingly being deployed in the developing world with the aim to ensure a fair and efficient electoral process. In rich countries, almost everyone has a reliable form of official identification, and biometric technology has traditionally been employed mainly for security and forensics. However, many developing countries suffer from an identity gap where millions of people lack official forms of identification, including birth

Obama’s new measures won’t limit government spying

Despite President Obama directing his administration to reform U.S. surveillance programs in order to make the intelligence community more transparent, spying will continue unabated. While his new guidance to the U.S. intelligence community declares that the United States must not collect intelligence “for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent, or for disadvantaging persons based on their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion”, the continued widespread electronic collection of intelligence will go on. Obama’s administration is only

$1,000 Genome will improve health, lower healthcare costs

Last year, the going cost to get one’s genome sequenced was about $10,000. Now it will be closer to one grand.  Illumina, a publicly traded biotech company that specializes in the gene-sequencing machine market, has succeeded in reducing genomic analysis costs by a factor of ten. Through continuous innovation, Illumina technology has broken down barriers in human genome sequencing by increasing data throughput by an astounding rate.  The result has been dramatic price reduction, ushering in the age of the

U.S. right to review consumer facial recognition technology

The U.S. Government recently announced that it will review the privacy implications of facial recognition technology.  As originally reported, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration has announced that a new consultation process will begin in Feburary to examine the commercial use of the technology. The objective of the consultation, according to the Obama administration, is to develop a voluntary, enforceable code of conduct that specifies how the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to facial recognition technology.  Concerns about the

Usability should be key consideration in biometric border systems

Usability and functionality should be a primary concern for designers and manufacturers of biometric systems. Though such systems typically are deployed for security applications, they should still provide an exemplary service experience that quickly meets the basic needs of the user, without fuss or bother. Most would attest that the air travel experience is anything but an exemplary one. Travelers in the high-security, post-911 era have to run a high-paced gantlet of airline flight check-in, along with baggage drop-off, security

TouchID doesn’t always recognize prints, leaving users to create workarounds. Is that OK?

If your iPhone 5S doesn’t work the way it should, what do you do? If you were anyone but an iUser, you could build your own fix, find someone who already has and learn from them, or you might even go out and get a new device – one that works. Over the last couple of weeks, there have been numerous reports of troubles with the TouchID sensor and there’s a new report about a workaround that supposedly makes the

Technologies embody inherent risk and fallibility

Users of any computerized system should remember that there is always the potential that a technology-based system can be hacked. Hackers increasingly are able to compromise cars, smartphones and medical devices, due to the ubiquity of wireless devices and open computing development environments. Avi Rubin, a professor of computer science and director of the Health and Medical Security Lab at Johns Hopkins University, warned of the dangers of an increasingly “hack-able” world during a TED talk a couple years ago.

Franken asking right questions about smartphone biometrics

Good legislators should provide insight and argue for greater oversight concerning technologies which have the capacity to be intrusive and erode our sense of privacy.  This is why Al Franken should be commended. Recently, the U.S. Senator from Minnesota raised privacy concerns about the inclusion of fingerprint reader technology into Apple’s newest iPhones.  Apple now uses biometrics to lock and unlock its newest generation of mobile phones and has developed patents that will allow its customers to complete e-commerce transactions

Intel drops facial recognition from TV set-top box, and why cable needs to ‘get the net’

I haven’t had a cable TV subscription in a long time, and it’s not because I’m too good for TV. It’s because the internet is a much better delivery medium and as online entertainment models surge forward, cable companies have found themselves either unable or unwilling to adapt. Pricing is through the roof, commercial breaks are increasingly intolerable and loud, and 30% of the channels users are forced to buy under cable subscriptions aren’t relevant or interesting. This isn’t to

Big Government will exploit Big Data

Big government is increasingly exploiting “Big Data” to track U.S. citizens at unprecedented rates without effective oversight. Big Data is a term used to describe large and complex data sets that can provide insightful conclusions when analyzed and visualized in a meaningful way.  Over the past five years, new Internet and biometric technologies have emerged that are able to combine silos of data from different information sources into a single unified location where data can be analyzed. Law enforcement and