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Senior Editor

NetFlash: Biometrics 101

Aug 25, 20032 mins

Proponents tout biometrics as the end-all for network and physical security of key resources. But recent stories show there’s a good and a bad side to the technology. For example, police in Tampa are this week removing facial recognition software that they thought would help them spot criminals and lost children in large crowds. According to a Reuters report the 2-year old software, which was tied to surveillance cameras, didn’t bring the desired results.  A police spokesman declined to say whether the removal of the software – sold by Identix – was the fault of the software or the database used. He did say the removal was not because of privacy concerns – which were many.  Identix is a security technology company with products including fingerprint readers and other identity technology.

Meanwhile, the AP reports that the U.S. is about to embark on one of the most ambitious biometric rollouts ever at U.S. border checkpoints. The challenges of such a system are tremendous – linking databases, monitoring systems, keeping information up to date.  Not to mention the cost, which will run into the billions experts say.  Will it all work?  Sounds good on paper, but sounds complicated upon implementation.

It should be noted that all this activity is in the face of an Oct. 26, 2004, deadline set by Congress for upgrading passports and visas to include biometrics. So you’ll be hearing lots more about this topic.

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