29 October 2008

Uncle Brucie Frightens Me


Measures such as ID cards are a temporary measure before biometric technology becomes ubiquitous; That was the warning from security guru Bruce Schneier this week who claims that surveillance technology will get more sophisticated and, more importantly, smaller and harder to detect. "We live in a very unique time in our society. The cameras are everywhere and you can still see them," said Schneier, BT's chief security technology officer. "Five years ago they weren't everywhere, five years from now you are not going to see them."


Biometric technologies such as face recognition, or systems based on a particular type of mobile phone owned or even clothes, may also be used for identity checks. The increase in background ID checks means that the current debate around national ID cards in the UK is only a short-term issue, according to Schneier. "I know there are debates on ID cards everywhere but in a lot of ways, they are only very temporary. They are only a temporary solution till biometrics takes over," he said.

Eventually, even airports won't actually require people to show ID, as the checks will just happen in the background while you queue for check-in or move through the terminal. "When you walk into the airport they will know who you are. You won't have to show an ID – why bother? They can process you quicker," he said.


zaine_ridling said...

Sounds like scenes from the 2002 movie, "Minority Report." Have we caught up to 1984 yet? Oy.

glyn moody said...

And if Bruce says it will happen, it *will* happen....

Andrew Katz said...

This is scaring me too. In a similar vein, I've come to the conclusion that because the government *can* create a humungous database of everyone, it is inevitable that at some point, it *will* create a humungous database of everyone. Once made, the database will be virtually impossible to unmake, and it will come about through a combination of mission creep, accretion and bigger leaps triggered by events like terrorist atrocities which somehow never get unmade.

But, I think there may be a solution. It would take enormous political will, but this could be the issue that, finally, requires the UK to adopt a written constitution enshrining privacy and related rights. It would have to be more far-reaching and effective than the Human Rights Act, and have an effective body able to override parliament where parliament seeks to enact incompatible legislation.

The purpose of a constitution is to provide a balance to political opportunism and short-termism, and the ever increasing shift of power from individual to state. (It's no accident that Larry Lessig is a constitutional lawyer).

Please. It's the only solution I can think of.

glyn moody said...

Interesting - thanks for those thoughts.

Sounds like an important book to me: when are you going to write it?