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Privacy

Would a National Biometric Authentication Scheme Work? 178

Ian Lamont writes "The chair of Yale's CS department and Connecticut's former consumer protection commissioner are calling for the creation of a robust biometric authentication system on a national scale. They say the system would safeguard privacy and people's personal data far more effectively than paper-based IDs. They also reference the troubled Real ID program, saying that the debate has centered around forms of ID rather than the central issue of authentication. The authors further suggest that the debate has led to confusion between anonymity and privacy: 'Outside our homes, we have always lived in a public space where our open acts are no longer private. Anonymity has not changed that, but has provided an illusion of privacy and security. ... In public space, we engage in open acts where we have no expectation of privacy, as well as private acts that cannot take place within our homes and therefore require authenticating identity to carve a sphere of privacy.' The authors do not provide any suggestions for specific biometric technologies, nor do they discuss the role of the government in such a system. What do you think of a national or international biometrics-based authentication scheme? Is it feasible? How would it work? What safeguards need to be put in place?"

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