Integrity biometric scan doubted in Tilburg

18th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

The biometric scan, a technology that could replace passport control officers, isn't error free.

TILBURG—Researchers at the University of Tilburg say that security checks based on an iris scan or a fingerprint are not secure enough. A recent investigation they conducted found that one in five such checks produced incorrect results. These occurred, for example, because of grease on a finger or a speck of dirt in an eye. For this reason, the researchers are calling for double controls, such as a combination of an iris scan with the entry of a numbered code.

The Tilburg researchers have expressed their doubts about the security of such biometric security measures, which are currently mainly in use at Schipol airport. They worry that individual details may not be stored safely enough and that unauthorised persons might be able to access them. Based on their findings, the researchers soon intend to make recommendations about security to the government.

Facial recognition technology is already in use at many airports including in Great Britian, Japan and the United States.

Interpol, the Europe based international law enforcement group, would like to turn facial scanning into a world-wide system, creating a searchable database, linking facial scans with finger prints. These scans could be checked against information in a criminal database.

The ethical bases of such a system has been called into question by watchdog groups. The database could potentially hold information on everyone whose ever travelled. The goal is to phase out passport control officers and replace them with machines, scanning the passengers face and comparing it with a biometric photo in his passport.

In an issue of Tilburg Research, available online, Corien Prins, Professor of Law and Technology, refers to the practice of storing massive amounts of biometric data as not only Orwellean, but Kafkaesque. “Orwell is already here,” he says, “We’re already being watched. There are cameras everywhere.”

In Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial the protagonist Josef K awakens one morning, and is taken off by police for reasons never explained. He tries to clear his name without knowing where to go, or what he’s been accused of.

“One day this will go wrong. I’m sure of it. You can compare it with the credit crisis. Gathering and linking data is highly speculative, just as those financial constructions proved to be. We think we can analyse and control reality by keeping all telecommunications data… But is that really the case?”

Radio Netherlands/Expatica

0 Comments To This Article