[Dave Birch] I happened to be talking to someone about biometrics last week, discussing the point about convenience (rather than security) being the driving force in consumer biometric adoption and it reminded me to note that growth in biometric use in the Asia-Pacific region. Results from the recent Unisys survey revealed that respondents from Malaysia and Singapore chose fingerprint scan as the preferred security authentication mechanism to verify their identity with banks, government departments and other organizations. I’m sure this is a window into the future everywhere. It may well be that a couple of generations from now wallets, money clips and purses will be purely cosmetic. The need for somewhere to carry cards, driving licences and other forms of identity will have gone, along with the need for metal keys. As this article says, all of your relevant details will have been combined onto a single miniature chip which will, for those who are fashion conscious, be carried on a bracelet or necklace (see, for example, the contactless bracelets we helped O2 implement). Some people may even choose to have it implanted under the skin for security purposes. Other (eg, me) may implant it just out of intense curiosity to see how it works in practice.

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Perhaps we’ll give it a try at this year’s Digital Identity Forum in London on November 20th/21st. All we need to do is find a doctor to order a a “starter kit” — complete with 10 hypodermic syringes, 10 VeriChips and a reader — for only $1,400 (€1,000). Of course, we need to work out the security architecture properly, but since we understand the security architectures around personal identity rather well, I’m sure we can come up with something. We certainly wouldn’t rely entirely on the security of the chip itself because, in this case, there isn’t any. The chips used for this sort of thing are just simple chips with a simple code number. Anyone can read the number. The trick, just as with cans of beans, is to secure the provenance, not the product. So reading the number should be simple and quick, but understanding what the number means should be protected, authenticated, tracked, managed and audited. Our National Health Service has, like other government departments, a solid track record in data security, so I can’t foresee any problems there.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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