Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking back 2013

Bio - body  metric - measure

"Once a child has touched a scanner they will be at the mercy of the matching algorithm for the rest of their lives."
Brian Drury, IT Security consultant

(Photo link)

The introduction of biometrics in society has rolled out more in 2013 than any other with smart phones using facial recognition and fingerprint biometrics for authentication, shops tracking consumers with facial recognition, police using CCTV and facial recognition, a US company using facial expressions of pupils to determine their reaction to lessons, the list could go on...

Notably in the UK now for every child's biometric, a school has to store a corresponding parental signature of consent.  This is required in law which became enforceable on 1st September 2013 - the first country globally to have parental consent in legislation for educational establishments to store and process a child's biometrics.

UK Police can potentially access school databases (see Q50 & 51) but a recent Freedom of Information request, sent in May 2013 to every police force in the UK, could not ascertain whether or not police have ever actually accessed a school biometric database - more in the New Year on those Freedom of Information request results.

I guess we'll never know if government authorities do access our children's biometrics.  Given the recent Snowdon revelations, why would we believe they would not access harvested biometric data from millions of children?

Maybe keeping our, and our children's, biometrics private, off institutional and corporate databases as much as we can, is prudent.  These are interesting times we are living in, where the free flow of data is great.  Information at the quickest touch of a button via the Internet.  Information is a tool.  Governments and institutions may be benign now (though some might debate that point) but this may not be so in the future and the highly personal level of information we willingly give now may come back to bite us in the future.
History, unfortunately, has a habit of repeating itself.

Monday, December 02, 2013

What is hidden in our biometrics?

Dermatoglyphics Multiple Intelligence Test, DMIT - a way to tell a person's intelligence by their fingerprints.  Hogwash or truth?  Can fingerprints really reveal our intellectual strengths and weakness?

Parents in India seem to think so with the article 'How brainy is baby? Parents find out' appearing in The Times of India.  According to the article this emerging trend is appearing in Asia, US and Australia with over 2,000 tests a month being done.  Children as young as 9 months old can take the test with the vast majority of clients being under 9 years old.  This is what the article goes on to say:

"A DMIT report tells parents whether their child learns better by 'seeing, hearing or doing' (visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner), whether he has high or low inborn learning capacity (short-term memory ), how long it takes for his mind to process information and so on. This, coupled with the finding about his dominant type of intelligence (there are eight listed ones, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, kinesthetic, musical, naturalist, inter-personal and intrapersonal ) can help parents give their child a good "head start", say companies." 

One company cites the need for DMIT in that "12,000+ students commit sucides in India every year due to exam related stress.  Parental and peer pressure and prime causes for such high number of suicides" and that "DMIT can provide crucial inputs for students counseling and guidance" also stating "In recent years U.S., Japan and Taiwan have applied Dermatoglyphics to diagnose Down’s Syndrome, congenital disorders, genetic abnormalities, educational fields, human resources management, employee recruitment etc."

It is fair to say then, that our biometrics have the potential to give data about us that we cannot possibly imagine.  When children are encouraged willynilly to give up their biometrics for everyday mundane activity in schools, this DMIT analysis does show there is further potential to glean information from our biometrics - maybe today's children offering up their biometric data in schools should be mindful of this.  Yet more information about us, profiling, categorising with potential to judge.  

Are we being informed of what it is that is being collated about us?  Fingerprints for school meals?  Most probably benign... let's hope so.