Sunday, May 28, 2006

Establishing identity: Bloomberg's DNA database

NYC Mayor Bloomberg wants biometric ID methods for all:
BREITBART.COM - NYC Mayor Advocates U.S. Worker Database

... You don't have to work _ but if you want to work for a company you have to have a Social Security card,' he said. 'The difference is, in the day and age when everybody's got a PC on their desk with Photoshop that can replicate anything, it's become a joke.'

The mayor said DNA and fingerprint technology could be used to create a worker ID database that will 'uniquely identify the person' applying for a job, ensuring that cards are not illegally transferred or forged...
He's wrong about the SSN; even if one were as wealthy as Bloomberg, and didn't need to work, it's difficult to live in the US without having at least a fake SSN. The SSN is used very widely now; in fact one advantage of a true national ID number is that it would make visible abuses that are now obscure.

In any case, he's right that we will do biometric identifiers one day -- whether iris scans or thumbprints or DNA fingerprints. Our failure to deal now with identity theft (by, for example, making banks liable for financial losses) will eventually make Americans happy to accept an identity management solution they might otherwise have refused. Funny how that works.

In any case Americans would gladly trade their privacy for convenience -- really, Americans are not very private people. The convenience/identity theft issues are a double whammy for biometric identification.

Oh, yeah, and "security" and immigration too. Make that a quadruple whammy, even though Schneier makes a good case that the security benefits are marginal or negative. (When identity is trusted you can do far nastier things once you breach the system borders than when it's not protected.)

Eventually we will also do a full DNA registry, which will be handy for identifying children likely to sin; including identifying future secular humanists. and finding evildoers and rebels through their kin. Might as well sign up now. I'll be registering for the 'authenticated flyer program' myself...

PS. I was going to write something caustic about the NRA's belief that owning weapons was some protection against state tyranny, but then I realized they don't talk about that any more. They only talk about using guns against fellow citizens -- not the state. I guess they feel the state would be on their side ...

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