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    USA Today: Report questions biometric technologies in fighting crime

    USA Today discusses a new report (here or pdf here) about security problems with biometric technologies.

    Released by the National Research Council, the “Biometric Recognition: Challenges and Opportunities” report headed by HP Labs distinguished technologist Joseph Pato, concludes all biometric recognition technologies are “inherently fallible.”

    “A lot of things possible on a TV series just don’t work that way in real life,” says panel member Bob Blakley of Gartner, a computer security firm in Stamford, Conn. “While there are lots of good uses for biometric recognition, there are lots of ways to create systems that waste time, cost too much and don’t work very well.” […]

    Federal agencies such as the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are funding research in improved biometric screening, but the report cautions they’re not doing basic research into whether the physical characteristics involved are truly reliable or how they change with aging, disease, stress or other factors. None look stable across all situations, the report says.

    Deployment of biometric screening devices at airports, borders or elsewhere without understanding the biology or the population being screened will lead to long lines, false positives and missed opportunities to catch criminals or terrorists, the report says. […]

    For that reason, the report calls for open and independent testing of biometric screening technologies before they are placed into widespread use. Cultural factors such as how long people are willing to wait in line for screening, as much as raw accuracy, will determine whether a particular kind of biometric recognition system will work.

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