The improper use of biometrics is a little known, but very worrying growth industry. When organisations such as Microsoft and Cisco are concerned, we should all be.
An off-licence in Bridlington has installed a fingerprint scanning machine to ascertain the age of customers who wish to purchase alcohol and cigarettes. First you go in, with either your passport or driving licence to verify your age. Then, if you want to, you can have your thumbprint taken and stored on the shop’s database.
Any hacker who knows what they are doing (and unfortunately there are too many of them around) will be able to steal this information. Your collar may be felt by the police for a crime you didn’t commit, simply because someone has your thumbprint on their computer which they can reproduce and leave at the scene of a crime.
Couple this with the fact a criminal will also have sensitive personal information about you, the scope for fraud is immense. All of these risks to stop a 17 year-old from buying a can of lager. It’s simply not worth it.
I have recorded an interview which will be broadcast on BBC Look North tonight explaining some of the dangers. My advise to anyone thinking of handing over their biometric details voluntarily is: DON’T! Use your passport instead. It is a recognised form of identification and it displays the minimum amount of personal information about you.
I will keep you all updated on this story when there are more developments.
UPDATE: Here is the full report on BBC Look North, ending with an interview from Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch.