Tuesday, August 10, 2004

TSA -- Sign me up

I registered yesterday with the a pilot program from the new fingerprint/retinal scan airport security process at Logan airport. I was picked because I've flown into and out of it about 50 times this year. Essentially, what they do is take a biometric scan of your eye (retina? iris? both?) and your fingerprints, and then encode this information into a smart chip on a card. When you insert this card into a machine, it matches the information on it with the eyeball and finger infront of it to see if the two are the same.

The process as very straightforward. You bring in 2 good IDs, they scan them into some machine, verify something (I guess) and then have to stare into this fancy camera and put your finger(s) on this special plate of glass, and the other biometric photo is taken. They then run some sort of background check to see if you are eligble -- I'l find out in about a week if I passed.

What this will mean from a "what will I actually have to do once I get to the airport" is unclear, but if this gets me through airport security lines faster, I am all for it. However, as Bruce Schneier has pointed out many times before, ensuring that an individual has valid ID does little to improve security. Instead, human should be looking for "suspicious" activity, because as vague as that dictate is, it's better at picking up *real* security threats.

Right now, however, there are lots of people who do nothing but compare IDs to faces. It will probably be an improvement if those folks could instead be keeping an eye open for "suspicious" activity.

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