Minority Report Becoming reality...retinal scanning

by searchfothetruth 4 Replies latest social current

  • searchfothetruth

    Iris recognition - a new game of eye spy to speed the passenger's journey

    Government wants system in 10 British airports by next year

    Owen Bowcott
    Tuesday July 29, 2003
    The Guardian
    Iris identification
    A subject looks into a camera which displays her iris for identification at a computer fair in Germany. Photograph: Fabian Bimmer/AP

    Iris-recognition machines, which can identify people by reading the distinctive pattern surrounding the pupil of the eye, are to be installed at 10 British airports within a year.

    The contract for the Iris Recognition Immigration System (Iris) has been advertised by the Home Office, but its final approval will depend upon the cost. It is being introduced as part of the government's drive to encourage biometric surveillance.

    The programme builds on a trial at Heathrow last year, and is likely to be focused in its initial phase on international commuters. Scanning cameras linked to a database will confirm the identity of previously enrolled passengers and lift automatic barriers, speeding them past immigration queues.

    The decision to press ahead with a large-scale system is a significant boost for a British invention.

    Since al-Qaida's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the security industry has been refining and promoting the technology of biometric testing.

    The public debate on immigration, the push for identity cards and the problems of electronic fraud have sharpened government interest in improved border controls and foolproof documentation.

    Although police forces continue to use fingerprints, iris recognition technology is gaining ground because of its reliability. Already it is being employed to prevent the wrong prisoners being freed from US jails and to stop returning Afghan refugees double claiming allowances.

    This summer cameras were installed at the Venerable Bede secondary school in Sunderland to scan children's eyes, ensuring that those who have allergies receive the correct food and to avoid drawing attention to those who are entitled to free meals.

    It may soon become part of our daily lives. Its future depends on its popular acceptance and whether the cameras are regarded as too intrusive.

    Each human iris has a unique pattern - even identical twins are dissimilar - and the image can easily be recorded by camera and stored on computer.

    The idea of using patterns in the iris for personal identification emerged as early as the 1930s. The breakthrough came with the development of a mathematical algorithm by John Daugman at Cambridge University.

    The 1994 patent was taken up by Iridian, an American technology company. Mr Daugman's encoding system is the basis for most of the iris-recognition products now in use.

    "All existing biometrics are capable of being spoofed," Mr Daugman told the Guardian. "But ours is the hardest to [fool]. There's general agreement that as far as accuracy goes, other biometrics cannot compete with us. I have done 11 million [iris] matches ... none have been false."

    The six-month trial at Heathrow last year was on a relatively modest scale. About 800 frequent flyers on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic had their iris images recorded.

    "[It] proved an effective and robust technology in a live airport environment," the Department of Trade and Industry concluded.

    "The average time taken of around 12 seconds to be admitted by immigration under the iris system proved a substantial reduction on the norm."

    The Home Office's tender document calls for a central database to store accumulated data as "part of the drive to modernise and improve the effectiveness of UK borders".

    "The initial implementation of Iris will include installation of entry barriers and enrolment stations at 10 sites within the UK plus the ability to undertake mobile enrolments at other locations within the UK," it says.

    The Home Office said the 10 sites would be Britain's main airports, but would not specify which ones.

    The drive to get Iris up and running suggests there is support for iris-recognition technology but no decisions have yet been taken on whether to incorporate it into either passports or what the government has termed "entitlement" cards - that is, identity cards.

    Those decisions are likely to depend on the cost of launching a national enrollment programme. The Treasury is thought to be opposed. The government has announced that the cost of a new passport will shortly rise from £33 to £42 to pay for the incorporation of some form of biometric record.

    "The main cost element is the process of registering everyone's biometrics," said Tony Mansfield, of the government biometric working group.

    Earlier this summer the Home Office minister Beverley Hughes said: "Biometrics provide a much more secure way of confirming someone's identity.

    "We are working towards the wider use of physical data like fingerprints or iris recognition in all parts of the immigration process and have already announced our intention to include biometrics in UK passports by 2005."

    Research into biometrics is also the subject of increasingly close cooperation between Britain and the US.

    In April David Blunkett, the British home secretary, and Tom Ridge, the US secretary of homeland security, set up a joint contact group of senior officials.

    One of its priorities is "closer working on the development of biometric technology such as iris and facial recognition".

    Not everyone is convinced. The Belgian government recently introduced a new identity card system but chose not to include biometric technology.

    "It's all about the Americans wanting to have post-9/11 security on their borders," said Bart Vansevenant, whose company, Ubizen, designed the Belgian cards.

    "If someone is not already down on the database as a suspect, then an iris-recognition system won't stop a terrorist coming through passport control."

  • maxwell

    Before I went to see the movie last fall, I read an article concerning stores that are considering using retinal scanning to id customers and remember certain things about customers. For example someone goes into the Gap (trendy casual dressing store in the US), and looks at certain stuff buys certain stuff, the person is unknowingly scanned and it stores what the person bought and what the person looked at and maybe even the person's body build. Next time the person comes, perhaps the person is directed toward merchandise that might be appealing for his/her particular profile which is recalled by IDing the person using the eye. So they store the same type of information that online merchants might store in cookies right now. Of course, there's other methods of iding a customer but that one did set off privacy concerns. Some stores were and may still be actually considering this. Presumably the customer would not know that he is being scanned. I wish I could get a link to the article, but it's probably in some archives I'd have to pay to access. When I went to see Minority Report, and I watched Tom Cruise walking through the city and his eye getting scanned triggering video ads directed exclusively at him, it reminded me of that article.

  • searchfothetruth


    Do you mean like this: http://www.channel4.com/news/2003/07/week_4/28_chips.html

    Chips with everythingalt


    Published: 27-Jul-2003
    By: David Rowan
    Microchip trackers, no bigger than a grain of sand, are set to become the latest weapon in the battle of the high street.

    The so-called Smart Tags can be fitted into virtually everything we buy, and send out a radio signal picked up by internet-linked computers.

    The technology could already be on its way to a supermarket near you. But there are fears that the retailers' dream is a Big Brother nightmare.

    At Prada's showcase New York store, you have to steel yourself to look at the prices.

    But the price tags here are smarter than you'd think: they send out signals that are picked up all over the store, leaving a snapshot as individual items are detected, and, in the changing rooms, triggering video images of whatever you're trying on.

    This is the place to go if you do need that $3,000 dress. But unlike most stores, almost everything in this one has a chip attached.

    The chips are the size of a grain of sand - but it they're not switched off after you've left the store, you leave a trail wherever you go.

    This trail can be picked up by anyone with the right scanner, which can identify an item by its unique signal.

    Companies from Coca Cola to Marks & Spencer are introducing these tiny chips.

    Tiny trackers

    Prada removes them at the cash-desk, but firms such as Benetton have discussed embedding them with their antennae inside the clothes themselves. So somewhere, a database could be tracking your progress.

    At MIT in Boston, the Auto-ID Centre is building the global information network that will put this technology - known as radio frequency identification, or RFID - into everything.

    The Centre's sponsors - from Walmart and Unilever to government departments - see huge commercial benefits in tracking products in real time through a vast computer network. The man who speaks for these corporations aims for nothing less than to change the world.

    Kevin Ashton told us: “One day, and not this decade, it's not impossible that everything in the global supply chain, almost every manufactured object, could contain a tiny wireless computer.

    “So the computers that we use to manage this supply chain will know where everything is, all the time.”

    Internet of things

    He's calling it the 'internet of things' - with scanners everywhere linked to databases following trillions of items.

    As these smart tags get cheaper and more universal - and Gillette's just ordered half a billion of them - the MIT visionaries say we'll all benefit if firms know when and where goods are needed.

    Ashton adds: “We'll see lower prices, fresher food, it will be easier to buy the things we want to buy, and maybe, 15 years hence, we won't need to stand in line at the checkout.

    The question is whether consumers are ready for their personal items to be monitored, and that data logged over the internet.

    When Benetton said in March that it would put the tags in sweaters, a boycott put its plans on hold. Privacy campaigners say RFID lays you open to permanent surveillance.

    Big Brother?

    Katherine Albrecht said: This technology has the potential to track people from the time they get up in the morning to the time they go to bed.

    Reader devices have been fabricated into floor tiles, carpeting, doorways. They're very easily hidden. As you enter a doorway, you will be emanating an electronic cloud. Everything from your earrings to what's in your briefcase would be sending out information that would be picked up by the doorway.

    The Auto-ID Centre's own confidential research, obtained by Channel 4 News, suggests that 78 per cent of consumers oppose these smart tags. So behind closed doors, it's fighting back. We've learned that its PR agency urged a "proactive approach on privacy" - "neutralising opposition" by creating a new advisory body of "credible experts and potentially adversarial advocates".

    Minority Report

    It's a futuristic vision straight out of the film Minority Report. Already your personal information is being stored each time you make a phone-call or credit-card purchase. Computers can then cross-reference hundreds of databases to predict your behaviour.

    But these chips are a marketing man's dream - one that's fast becoming reality.

    Judd Ferrer, of location-based marketing firm, Insitu, said: “What this chip can offer to the marketing world is the ability to track consumer behaviour from the store to the home, and if they've got the ability to put RFID into appliances, the ability to understand what's going on at the home and then taking it back to the store.

    Imagine what this could one day mean:

    Talking adverts in Times Square….

    Budweiser – “Hi David - feeling thirsty today?”

    Swatch Wink – “Oh, David...”

    Cup Noodle – “Mmm, chicken flavour, David, your favourite...”

    Moving Strap – “Don't forget your wife's birthday... “

    Samsung – “Catch this special offer, David...”

    When all this information the scanners have picked up about you is out there on the internet, who knows how it will be used - not just to sell you things, but to know where you've been, and what you've been doing.

    At Tesco, the future has already arrived. It's taking part in government-funded trials that use RFID tags in Gillette razors and DVDs to track them through the store.

    Automatic re-ordering

    Readers built into the shelves monitor each item - so if it's sold, the computer automatically orders another.

    And if one leaves the store unpaid for, the system can trigger security cameras. There are no warnings that these DVDs have tags attached.

    Greg Sage, Tesco spokesman, says: “The tag itself is tiny so you wouldn't see it, but when customers come to ask our staff, they can see the benefits immediately, because it's much quicker for them and it means they can get on with their shopping with the minimum of hassle.

    From next week, this store will be scanning the tags at the checkout too. If a DVD's unique number could be matched to, say, my loyalty card, who knows what it could reveal about me? And it doesn't end there.

    Tesco doesn't disable its tags when you leave the store - so scanners can pick up their electronic trail, as we found out when we visited a firm which programmes this technology.

    Single identifying number

    Forty miles away, our DVD of The Matrix bought in Tesco was still signalling its tag's unique number.

    At MIT, they're advising corporations to keep all this data anonymous, and to give you the chance to have tags 'killed' at the checkout.

    Because once the trail's out there, the police, and maybe your boss, could access it to know where you are at any time. And what if hackers accessed your records too? Today, the system's unregulated - but soon it may be too late.

    Richard Allan MP(Lib Dem technology spokesman) said: “People being able to track your movements may seem like a theoretical risk, but in reality, do we want where we were at any particular point of the day to be known to everyone?

    “The idea that one not only has CCTV cameras watching over you but your own clothes watching over you and sending off data that could be jumbled up and spat out to your detriment is one that's of serious concern to me.”

    Twenty years after barcodes took over, the smart tag is on the edge of a far more pervasive revolution. The one question that isn't being asked is whether you want it.

  • maxwell


    Yes, the article I read was about that same application for the similar technology, storing information about customers in order to predict what the customer will want to buy in the future. I know it specifically mentioned eye scans but probably mentioned other types of technology used for this purpose. It definitely brings up some privacy concerns. Embedding chips sounds even scarier.

    I don't know if they do this in the UK but here, some of the grocery stores and drug/pharmacy stores give out discount cards. You fill out some identifying information and they give you the card, which is, of course, linked to your identifying information. Certains items will be marked down if you scan your card at the checkout counter. Benefit to the customer is cheaper items without the need to cut out coupons. However, I'm sure the merchants are also using those cards to catalog what the customer is buying. Sounds like the new technology will take things a few steps farther soon.

  • obiwan

    I don't know if anyone has heard this, but the government is considering letting parents have the option of chipping thier children when they are born. The practice is done with dogs and other pets to find them if they get lost or stolen. I don't know if I could go along with that.

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