Democrats & Liberals Archives

Defense As Well

You fellows may be waking up today to news of a British-disrupted plot, likely by al-Qaeda, to blow up jets with liquid explosives. First and foremost, this is not the first such plot that has been disrupted. This is not a new tactics for our enemies. Given these tactics, we must once again question the wisdom of the Right-Wing assertion that we fight in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them here.

It was called the Bojinka plot. A fire in a kitchen in Manila in early 1995 brought attention to a bomb factory full of liquid explosives. A Laptop found at the scene turned out to belong to no one else that Ramzi Yousef, one of the ringleaders of the first WTC attack. The intentions of this attack were to simultaneously detonate dozens of airliners over the pacific, coming from Far East locations.

Could it work? It already had. Yousef had already tested his bomb with a small device on another flight, a bomb which killed an unfortunate Japanese businessman.

This is where the folly of the Bush Administration's military-oriented policy towards counterterrorism shows itself quite clearly. Just one person on a plane with a soda bottle full of liquid explosive could bring the jets down. Where do you send the army to face that threat?

Many on the right wing sneer about having to get permission slips to go after terrorists. But what use is a counterterrorism policy which essentially requires us to take over the world for it to work? What use is a homeland security policy which requires us to fight endless wars that don't prevent plots like those that struck Madrid or London?

What we need is a good, dedicated counterterrorism effort here at home, exactly the kind of thing that the Bush Administration has neglected. We need the 9/11 commission recommendations fully carried out, and better tactics used where the commissions suggestions are lacking. We have to remember that the last successful attack on the United States was not a missile or rocket attack from a foreign nation, an heavy armor invasion from other shores, or a commando raid on our capital, but instead a fairly cheap ($100,000) terrorist attack which was initiated and executed here by just nineteen men.

The Bush Administration is not only behind the times, its behind the curve. Our national security is in danger and we are dealing with a very sophisticated and adaptable enemy. Despite all the constitutional violations and sacrifices, the Bush Administration has done an extremely poor job of rooting out terrorists here at home, despite intelligence about plots like the Mukhtabar plot in the NYC's subways being in action. Al Qaeda is here. It is in action, and the only thing so far that has protected us is that al-Qaeda had been targeting our allies in order to split them off. We are like a man in a sniper's sights who is only unwounded because the sniper chooses not to shoot.

The time has come to recognize that while absolute security is impossible, it is in our interests to make it more and more difficult for our enemies to strike us. We cannot forever linger in a state of high security, which means we need better international relations, better intelligence, better follow-up, and fewer distractions by ideologically driven manipulators of foreign policy. All they have succeed in doing is aggravating the situation, misleading efforts, and remaining in denial about the holes in security their efforts have created.

We need the "soft" power back. We need agile law enforcement agencies to take the lead on fighting terrorism, rather than lumbering armies. We need to minimize unnecessary disruptions in the places where al-Qaeda recruits. We need diplomacy working opening up channels for us to act through; despite what the right-wing thinks, diplomacy is useful for more than just avoiding wars. We need to get Iraq finished and over with, hopefully in one piece so it doesn't become the source of the next threat.

We need more than offense here, we need a good defense as well. Otherwise, all the billions that we spend will only serve to bleed us further of the resources we need to thrive as a nation and to confront our enemies.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2006 9:20 AM
Comments
Comment #174496

I generally agree with the assessment that we need to create a much more agile intelligence apparatus, however there are two elements that need more emphasis.

Firsr, we need to develop a much stronger human intelligence gathering network. This goes hand in hand with the second element a strong partnership in intelligence gathering with countries that share our interest in eliminating terrorism. It is hard to imagine countries alienated by our current and our allies (Israel’s) military incursions cooperating fully with our intelligence operations. An easily identified example of this is Pakistan’s duplicitousness in dealing with us and Ossama bin Laden. If Pakistan really wanted us to get him they would tell us where he is. Instead they get a de facto approval of their nuclear weapons program-in opposition to our interests and international approbation AND they continue to aid and abet Al Quaeda to satisfy the internal political interests of the Islamists. This is acceptable to us because our military incursion in Iraq requires a quiescent Pakistan. Ultimately, we lose. Our current administration is in over their heads and they don’t even know it. Only a concerted diplomatic push to achieve a truly international security regime where we value having more allies than Israel and Tony Blair will result in a tenable security situation for the West.

Posted by: Bill at August 10, 2006 10:42 AM
Comment #174508

Stephen,
Excellent article as always. You wrote:

Many on the right wing sneer about having to get permission slips to go after terrorists. But what use is a counterterrorism policy which essentially requires us to take over the world for it to work? What use is a homeland security policy which requires us to fight endless wars that don’t prevent plots like those that struck Madrid or London?
I would add that even taking over the world would not work.

It is good point about al-Qaeda targeting our allies in order to split them off, but could anyone do a better job of splitting them off than Bush?

Bill,
An interesting analysis including information that I was not aware of. Anything that you can do to expand and substantiate would be a great contribution to the discussion.

Posted by: Ray Guest at August 10, 2006 11:08 AM
Comment #174525

Stephen,

Well! At least I didn’t have to read:

“First, it appears that al-Qaeda is no longer intent on attacking us.”

That statement of yours was all the way back in, uh, well, your very last thread. Please don’t force me or others to correct you on this matter again.

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 10, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #174527

Bill,

“First, we need to develop a much stronger human intelligence gathering network.”

Agreed! Of course we had one in the early 70’s and summarily torched it thinking SatInt and ELInt could do everything we needed. Hopefully we’ll always remember the heinous error of our decision in the late 70’s.

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 10, 2006 12:01 PM
Comment #174548

I couldn’t agree more with your post. We spend hundred of billions fighting a war against invisible civilian enemies while TSA back home is a joke. Hours are spent waiting by passengers in airports every day while TSA officials check shoes and make people drink breast milk to prove it is not explosive. Meanwhile the back doors go unguarded as hundreds of airport employees who “make a whopping $10-$15/hour and have unfettered access to all vital compartments on a plane get to freely move between terminal and runway. This is one of many examples of a half-assed security system and the governmental priorities that make it so. And yet, voting these idiots who invent this crap out of office equates to a diminishment of national security in many peoples’ eyes. All I can say is: WOW.

Ken Strong-

“First, it APPEARS that al-Qaeda is no longer intent on attacking us.”

What about that statement, and especially the word “APPEARS” does not make sense to you? New facts always force change. So, aside from semantics, do you have a point to make about Al Quaida’s intentions to attack the US? Maybe about how the Iraq war did nothing to stop it, and likely fueled it?

Posted by: Kevin23 at August 10, 2006 1:26 PM
Comment #174551

—-Ken Strong—- Please do not think you need to
speak for others, I for one believe you should
proof read your statements before posting them,
instead of pulling written material from some place
an then try sticking them all together in a hodgepodge
statement!

Posted by: DAVID at August 10, 2006 1:39 PM
Comment #174599

Stephen:
“What we need is a good, dedicated counterterrorism effort here at home, exactly the kind of thing that the Bush Administration has neglected.”

Indeed — criminally neglected.
Btw, Stephen, have you heard the latest news? It seems that the Bush-created agency CIFA (Counterintelligence Field Activity) which was originally set up to coordinate policy and oversee the counterintelligence activities for the Pentagon is about to lose it’s mastermind and director David Burtt (who was also deputy assistant secretary of defense for counterintelligence at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks), and Burtt’s deputy director Joseph Hefferon?
Yes, these two have just announced their “retirement” at the end of the month after spending a billion of our taxpayer dollars during the past four years — most of it going to outsourced contractors. A Pentagon spokesman just came out and told us that this is “a personal decision that they both made together.” Isn’t that sweet?

That’s because Burtt and Hefferon and that jailbird Duke Cunningham were using this counterintelligence agency so they could secure contracts for companies like Mitchell Wade’s (you know, the guy who bribed Cunningham) MZM Inc.

Oh, aren’t we all so glad the way Bush administration has spent our money so wisely and carefully, in order to keep us all extra safe from terrorism? And aren’t we all so happy that we’re fighting them over there, so we that we don’t have to worry over here?
Personally, I’m so glad it makes me want to puke. Daily.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 10, 2006 3:53 PM
Comment #174616

Fortunately for us, someone else knows how to connect the dots.

U.S. Homeland Security is about as effective as a screen door on a submarine when when ports and borders are wide open?
We don’t even know who is coming and going?
Wait until terrorists get WMD and put it in one of the huge containers entering one of our ports. And, with wide-open borders, cells could already be here in the U.S., growing and planning.
I understand the concerns many have against biometrics, but secured borders and biometrics could make it damn hard to move about the U.S. undetected, or get on an airplane. Computerization could make it easier to search vast records almost instantaneously. Criminals are running around, but we don’t know who they are, because we can’t compare their finger print, face print, hand or body geometry, or an iris-scan to a database that could contain known terrorists and criminals. This may surprise many, but (provided government doesn’t abuse the information), what’s to be afraid of if you are doing anything wrong? Because, look at what’s going on now? You have to take your shoes off, empty all your pockets, be searched, can no longer carry a coke or pepsi or laptap computer onto an airplane? There are better, more commons sense ways to ensure better security. And, invading Iraq was not one of them, since they didn’t have WMD (a huge blunder based on flawed intelligence, paranoia, and disinformation).

Posted by: d.a.n at August 10, 2006 4:33 PM
Comment #174628

Ken Strong-
Here are my words on this, published in one of my reponses to you in the comments before news of this broke:

As for al-Qaeda’s intent not to attack us, let me let you in on something: that can change, once they’ve weakened our alliances and resources enough. If you like being weakened and cut off by your enemy, by all means, enjoy the show. I’d rather defeat al-Qaeda’s aims.

I wasn’t making the argument that they wouldn’t attack, but instead arguing that the fact they weren’t attacking didn’t mean that they couldn’t, and that my concern was that when they finally got around to doing so, we would be little better at interdicting the plot than we were at dealing with 9/11.

One could argue that this was internationally directed, rather than targeted at us, but I find it difficult to believe that they didn’t think Americans would be victims in all this.

My earlier posts might be dated by the change in the situation. That doesn’t mean they are invalidated, though; in fact, any new rounds of attack will simply prove my point.

They will, conversely, disprove the points of all those people out there who argued that Iraq made us safer. Iraq has had the opposite effect as intended. The time is here to realize it, and do what we have to do to redeem the situation. You can cling to the war, and to the notion that your support for Bush trickles down to the soldiers, but the fact is, neither is doing good for us.

We need leadership in this war that defines support in terms of what gets done right, rather than what’s right in the view of one man, regardless of the evidence.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2006 4:57 PM
Comment #174642

Stephen,

I could not agree with you more that, before all the faux heroics by Bush in Iraq, we should have focused on our defenses at home.

I have maintained all along that America will never be truly safe until our borders and entry/exit points are secured. We don’t need a fence. We do need defense.

There are more than enough electronic measures available to secure the border without a physical barrier. And, strangely enough, for a fraction of what has been spent on the war in Iraq, we could have secured both our northern and southern borders and initiated an actual inspection plan in our ports. Our airports could have been staffed with well trained, well paid inspectors and security troops. We could have fully funded and coordinated Homeland Security.

Instead, we have no end in sight in Iraq, a group of bumbling lawmakers who can’t find any consensus on any topic of importance, and we are all in much more danger travelling than ever before.

Defense is important. Vote out the bad politicians. Clean the slate.

Posted by: Chi Chi at August 10, 2006 5:27 PM
Comment #174661

Kevin23,

So why say “appears” if “appears” holds no weight then? Why say such a statement if you don’t think there’s an iota of reality in favor of it? Why say such a statement when the attacks on the WTC were 8 years apart and the London Bombings were just last year? Indeed, “appears” has nothing to do with terrorism or even security. It “appeared” WWI, WWII, and the Cold War were EACH the last big conflict of the century … . of course the problem is they all occurred in the same century. Alas, after we win the war on Terrorism many years down the road we will yet again say “There are no more wars to fight!” and slash our military, intelligence services, and other security agencies of the nation … only to get our butts hammered the first few years in another conflict in the mid 21st Century.

So is this how democrats will continue to argue security of the nation and reducing funds as things “appear”? … based on “appears” instead of common sense (and, well, claims from the enemy themselves that they were & are still every much our enemy) is a dangerous road devoid of maturity of thought as well as the generally accepted notion that the party in charge of the White House and/or Congress have a sworn duty to protect America.

“Appears” be damned.

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 10, 2006 6:11 PM
Comment #174664

DAVID,

My words were a direct reply to a statement by Stephen in a very recent thread. So to accuse & convict me of copying the verbage from somewhere else is junior-high-schoolish in nature and summarily deemed preposterous and slanderous.

Have more substantive facts in your corner (just one fact is a nice start) before you accuse and convict someone next time. Thank you.

Posted by: Ken Strong at August 10, 2006 6:17 PM
Comment #174669

Dan-
Oh, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear, right? Well, what happens when somebody thinks you’ve done something wrong, but that’s not the case? Should you have to prove yourself innocent, or should they have to find good reason to go after you?

There’s a reason the founding fathers gave us the Fourth Amendment. How many Democracies have foundered because the governments were allowed to indulge their whims on who to hold suspect, and who to put above reproach?

Besides, more information is not necessarily a good thing, especially when most of what is processed is not useful. We reduce the overhead on how much information we have to work through, we make it easier to follow good leads. Procedures concerning warrants and whatnot also function to make people more selective and thorough in their investigations. By encouraging deep and specific investigations rather than broad and superficial ones, we both reduce information overhead, and the injustices that come with a system that simply invades people’s privacy on a broad scale. Only Gods can get a surveillance state right.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2006 6:23 PM
Comment #174674

Stephen,

Okay, I accept that. Their intentions did change as you suggested … in all of about 3 days. I think it will do all of us good to remember how quickly things can change and why we shouldn’t skimp on security, either at the airport or during defense budgeting. The real emphasis behind my recent post is to challenge the very short term memory of America. The threat is real and it continues.

Finally, this part of your post was troubling since it shows great ignorance of my point of view: “You can cling to the war, and to the notion that your support for Bush trickles down to the soldiers, but the fact is, neither is doing good for us.”

Dems and liberals continue to characterize this “war” as if we’re battling masses of Iraqis in all 4 corners of the country. The fact is we are a security and defensive force in Iraq and trying to provide what ever stability we can while the country stands up on its feet. Sure we take action on occasion to respond to threats, but does anyone challenge the notion that if all Iraqis (and Irani and Syrian Insurgents) went home and never fired a shot again … that neither would we? Does anyone really challenge that? Or do extremists exist out there who say we would go on offensives in a peaceful Iraq? Unless you have that wacko opinion you can take pride at least in the noble idea of getting Iraq on 2 feet, and thus support the soldiers making the day-to-day effort in that regard.

So complain away about “we shoulda sent more troops”, “we shoulda let Saddam off the hook after 14 UN resolutions and simply not invaded”, “we shouldn’t have disbanded the Iraqi Army after the quick drive to Baghdad”, “we didn’t have a plan for the peace” … . those are all criticisms I don’t agree with but are still within the realm of acceptable thought in my opinion.

What isn’t acceptabe IMO is to say that I “cling to war”. It’s a false criticism of epic proportions. What I “cling to” is continuing our defensive & security operations, letting the Iraqi forces handling the sectarian strife as much as possible, and doing so for a bit longer until the Iraqi government is self-sustainable.

What’s “a bit longer”? Hopefully it’s only a year, maybe 2, hopefully not 3 but if that what it takes that’s what it takes. Remember, (I can’t believe I have to keep repeating this) we are not at total war with Iraq. If we wanted to just “Dresden” Iraq we would’ve been outta there at least 2 years ago. The mission of re-building Iraq into a sustainable entity is noble. So, argue the detailed tactics to achieve the goal, but I feel Americans do themselves a disfavor and demoralize the troops by claiming the end goal is wrong or frivolous or not noble in any way.


Posted by: Ken Strong at August 10, 2006 6:45 PM
Comment #174675

Ken Strong-

Wow there big guy. “Appears” is a word that has meaning. The meaning was a disclaimer that the proceeding thoughts had been based upon a snapshot of things in a context that may very well change or be different than it now seems to be. I have no idea what you tirade was really about, but I can tell you that it made no sense at all.

And if you want to start talking about ACTING on appearances alone (as if I somehow suggested that as a plan of action) I think you should talk to the president and VP and the millions of people who have been buying the crap being shoveled by their leaders. Talk to them about the consequences of making huge assumptions about the appeal of forcefully imposed “democracy”, and arrogantly marching in the army to do this fool’s work without any plan B. It certainly “appeared” to be a good idea to spend your children’s future tax revenue on that lemon eh?

Posted by: Kevin23 at August 10, 2006 6:46 PM
Comment #174680

Ken Strong-

Just curious because there is a substantially large chance, in the opinion of a whole lot of people who know a whole lot more than you and I and who have been on the front lines of this struggle for decades, that Iraq will fall into civil war regardless…that it is merely delaying the innevitable to remain as a “police force.” I do not necessarily agree, but I at least accept it as reasonably possible.

So my question to you: is your 100% commitment to this mission of Iraqi democracy coming from a place of pride that democracy is really sought by all, or fear (by this I mean that failing would be an enormously bad precedent and would invite trouble)?

Now a follow-up: Are these goals worth the money we’re taking away from our own citizens and local governments at home to finance this endless and subjectively premised war? It seems to me to be throwing all the eggs in one basket at the very least. At worst, endangering our very future existance by creating more resentment and hate than they eliminate.

Me? I agree with securing ourselves first.
Physically with secured borders and good air land and sea checkpoints,
Economically through intelligent fiscal management, environmentally by reducing dependence on dangerous, finite or foreign resources, and
Emotionally with meaningful policing of things that really matter to people so people feel like we’re living in an honest and caring society to the extent possible without being wasteful with tax money. It might even help to get a majority out to vote. THEN you can go after the rest of the world with your “noble” yet imperialistic missions to spread democracy for “security” reasons.

Posted by: Kevin23 at August 10, 2006 7:07 PM
Comment #174684
Stephen wrote: Dan- Oh, if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear, right? Well, what happens when somebody thinks you’ve done something wrong, but that’s not the case?
Non-sequitur. What’s Biometrics got to do with that? False arrest is already a problem, without biometrics.
Stephen wrote: Should you have to prove yourself innocent, or should they have to find good reason to go after you?
Again. That’s a separate issue, and a problem that already exists.
Stephen wrote: There’s a reason the founding fathers gave us the Fourth Amendment.
Non-sequitur. We already have that problem. How is it worsened by biometrics? BTW, the Fourth Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. The keyword is “unreasonable”. By your definition, we have already failed, since searches have been taking place at airports for decades?
Stephen wrote: How many Democracies have foundered because the governments were allowed to indulge their whims on who to hold suspect, and who to put above reproach?
Non-sequitur. That has nothing to do with biometrics, which is merely a more accurate identification system than an ID card that is very easy to falsify. As for Democracies that have foundered, ours is not foundering merely due to who to hold suspect or put above reproach. That’s a problem, but not related to an identification system. As for putting peoople above reproach, Bill Clinton, I think holds the record for giving pardons to 140 convicted felons (some, who even pled guilty).
Stephen wrote: Besides, more information is not necessarily a good thing, especially when most of what is processed is not useful. We reduce the overhead on how much information we have to work through, we make it easier to follow good leads.
Not more information. More reliable information. But, guess what? The government and lots of corporations already know all about you. Biometrics makes it difficult for illegal aliens and criminals to move about.
Stephen wrote: Procedures concerning warrants and whatnot also function to make people more selective and thorough in their investigations.
And?
Stephen wrote: By encouraging deep and specific investigations rather than broad and superficial ones …
Non-sequitur. Biometrics is not superficial. It’s more thorough.
Stephen wrote: … we both reduce information overhead, and the injustices that come with a system that simply invades people’s privacy on a broad scale.
They already have lots of information about you to try to identify you. So, why not make that endeavor more accurate? In fact, it might even reduce the need for more information. How many IDs do we carry around? Drivers’ license, Social Security number, Healthcare card, etc. All of that could be eliminated with Biometrics. Whether you like it or not, it’s coming. Get used to it. It’s already being used more and more. I’ve already worked at places using biometrics. It’s just a matter of time, because ID cards and other IDentifications systems are failures.
Stephen Daugherty wrote: Only Gods can get a surveillance state right.
Really? Did you ask him? Nonsense. Biometrics is merely a better way to do what we ALREADY do. It would make it very difficult for terrorists and illegal aliens to move about undetected.

Case in point. Identity theft is the nations fastest growing crime. When banks start offering customers biometric IDentification, virtually eliminating identity theft, who is going to say “No thanks, I’d rather be a target for identity theft”.

It’s coming whether you like it or not.

Chi Chi wrote: Defense is important. Vote out the bad politicians. Clean the slate.

I agree. Most of our problems are due to irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians. Don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians, and that will solve a WHOLE lot of our problems. Vote out all of the bad ones, and watch, suddenly like majic, problems getting solved, instead of growing in number and severity.

Posted by: d.a.n at August 10, 2006 7:31 PM
Comment #174687

Ken Strong-
You didn’t really read my last entry, did you?

Your view of my writings is pretty superficial in my opinion, because you miss one of my major themes: appearances are often deceiving. My standard response to those who claim that all the years without a terrorist attack on U.S. soil is to point out the eight-year gap during which al-Qaeda didn’t lay a hand on the mainland.

Also, having read Suskind’s book, I can point to the Mukhtabar plot, and the fact that they voluntarily called it off, to indicate that we have been spared only because their strategy has called for attacks to be inflicted elsewhere.

Saying it appeared that al-Qaeda was focusing elsewhere rather than saying that outright acknowledges that a)we could be off entirely, or b)they may have changed their mind on these things and rudely forgot to tell us about it.

You have this standard square peg argument that you’re trying to pound into the round hole of what I actually said.

The book The One Percent Doctrine should give you pause if you are trully concerned about people chasing appearances as opposed to realities, because essentially Cheney’s doctrine, the doctrine of the title, is to treat any trouble that has even a one percent chance of happening as if it were a certainty.

With this doctrine, Cheney has tried to action on appearance the criteria for action. No waiting around, piecing through the evidence trying to find out what reality is hidden behind the items of intelligence, or determining what’s real or not. Just action based on what it looks like is happening.

This has gotten Americans killed in Iraq. Support for the president has been presented as the primary guaged for support for the troops, a trickle-down support system, if I ever saw one.

Never mind that many of us have dissented on issues like armor, manpower, and strategy because we sought to give material support to our soldiers. No, it seems the right wing is more concerned about keeping people from doubting the president’s wisdom and judgment on the matters at hand. Which of course means denying any mistakes are being made. That means, though, that you can’t openly act to fix those things, because that’s a concession of a fact you’ve publically denied.

And so, appearances dominate realities in policymaking.

If I hate Bush, it is for that. Why of all the times in our country’s history do we have to be saddled with deluded, distracted leadership. It’s like finding out in the middle of a flight through a thunderstorm that your pilot only stayed at a Holiday Inn.

I want better leadership than that. I want somebody who can take the learning curve at a steeper rate. I want a reader, a man who isn’t so interested in plausible deniability that his people are shielding him from intelligence he needs to know I want somebody who isn’t perpetually running a political campaign, but who can put down the campaign button and take care of serious issues.

I wish Bush was that kind of man. But he’s not.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2006 7:46 PM
Comment #174701

Stephen,

Amen, brother.

Posted by: Trent at August 10, 2006 8:21 PM
Comment #174716

Dan-
I’ve visited your site, so I know how enthusiastic you ar about the idea, but forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical.

Let’s try this for starters:

Biometric scanners used for the national identity card scheme could exclude people with visual, facial or other physical disabilities from using the technology, according to a leading expert on Tuesday.

Angela Sasse, professor of human-centred technology at University College London, warned that biometric technology is underdeveloped to such an extent that iris scanners are often unable to verify identities of people wearing glasses and contact lenses, for example.

“Users may have problems presenting characteristics,” said Sasse. “If you have arthritis, you could have trouble putting your finger flat on the reader. Many biometric iris readers are unable to scan people with no irises or eye injuries. That’s where we see the percentage of people that can’t use biometrics going up and up.”

So, with Biometrics, the biological nature of the systems can become a hindrance to their proper usage.

Then there’s this guy’s read on things:

Certainly a fingerprint or iris scan can identify an individual. Unfortunately, the means for acquiring biometric records are neither convenient nor inexpensive. Even then, biometrical records will not result in a completely secure system. Obtaining a copy of an individual’s biometrics can be trivial. I have seen two movies where a waitress lifted a fingerprint from a glass in a restaurant for nefarious uses. There are also devices that can capture iris images of a person walking within a few feet of a video camera (often behind a one-way mirror) so that it can be duplicated and used for illegitimate purposes. The real problem with biometrics is that once an individual’s biometrics has been compromised, they are compromised for life and can never be trusted again. However, my most severe objection to biometrics as an authentication method is their reliance on a central database that contains the identifying graphic templates. If such database is compromised, then the biometrics of ALL users in the database are compromised for life.

Voice recognition must be also considered as a potential authentication biometric. Unfortunately, the technology is as yet not sufficiently reliable, is expensive and difficult to implement. It also suffers from all of the disadvantages of having to rely on a central database for storing voiceprint templates.

All technologies have their problems. You start from a principle, a theory, a possibility. Then you have to design something out of real world materials, which behaves according to the rules of the real world (which could mean failing to do what you want, or doing something else you didn’t anticipate, and perhaps don’t want). Then you have to implement it in an existing society full of laws, traditions, idiots, vandals and all sorts of other things. What works in theory and what works in practice are not necessarily the same things.

Technology also poses problems in terms of the rights we expect. What exactly keeps a person from being able to keep track of your movements all day? What’s the oversight? Who’s there when that face you’re looking for shows up, if you can get a positive match? I speak of Gods being the only folks able to run a surveillance society, because even if you can capture the information, how does it reach the right people?

We had a terrorism watchlist on 9/10. We had a database the people working security could plug into to determine whether a person was on the watchlist. But that didn’t do any good because of the human element. That was a case in which things could have been done better, really. Does it improve when the information is biometric? Instead of having a name not show up, it’s a face or a fingerprint I.D.

Biometric ID’s have a place in our society. I actually used one on checks for a while, and thought it was the coolest thing. But it’s no magic bullet. That’s one of the things we must learn about technology. We should not blunder our way into a police state thinking that all this new technology can keep us safe, if we simply give up our claim to the presumption of innocence. If you check the legal opinions on what constitutes a reasonable search and seizure, the answer settled upon is pretty plain: warrants and/or probable cause.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 10, 2006 10:10 PM
Comment #174739
Stephen Daughtery wrote: Dan- I’ve visited your site, so I know how enthusiastic you ar about the idea, but forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical.
Of course you are. What’s new?
Stephen Daughtery wrote: Let’s try this for starters: Biometric scanners used for the national identity card scheme could exclude people with visual, facial or other physical disabilities from using the technology, according to a leading expert on Tuesday. Angela Sasse, professor of human-centred technology at University College London, warned that biometric technology is underdeveloped to such an extent that iris scanners are often unable to verify identities of people wearing glasses and contact lenses, for example.

It’s only a matter of time before iris scanner issues like that are resolved.

Besides, use three (or more) metrics (e.g. iris scan, fingerprint, hand geometry, facial geometry, eye color, voice pattern, retina, height, vien geometry, Signature, thermogram, DNA, ear geometry, finger geometry, odor, and keystroke dynamics, password). Therefore, it would be damn difficult to steal all of those metrics.

Stephen Daughtery wrote: “Users may have problems presenting characteristics,” said Sasse. “If you have arthritis, you could have trouble putting your finger flat on the reader. Many biometric iris readers are unable to scan people with no irises or eye injuries. That’s where we see the percentage of people that can’t use biometrics going up and up.”

IF, IF, IF … That’s flimsy.
If a frog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass on the ground.
Like I said, don’t rely on one metric.

Stephen Daughtery wrote: So, with Biometrics, the biological nature of the systems can become a hindrance to their proper usage.

Not if they are designed and used properly, and don’t rely on only one metric.

Stephen Daughtery wrote: Then there’s this guy’s read on things: Certainly a fingerprint or iris scan can identify an individual. Unfortunately, the means for acquiring biometric records are neither convenient nor inexpensive. Even then, biometrical records will not result in a completely secure system. Obtaining a copy of an individual’s biometrics can be trivial. I have seen two movies where a waitress lifted a fingerprint from a glass in a restaurant for nefarious uses.

Oh! Well, then. Gee … if you saw it in a movie, it must be true.

The cost is falling fast. Another flimsy argument.
Many of these systems are already in use at airports, the workplace, personal use, the CIA, etc., and the cost will continue to fall.

Like I said before, you don’t rely on only one metric. Use three or more of the following:

  • [01] iris scan

  • [02] fingerprint

  • [03] finger geometry

  • [04] hand geometry

  • [05] facial geometry

  • [06] eye color

  • [07] voice pattern

  • [08] retina

  • [09] hand vein geometry

  • [10] signature

  • [11] facial thermogram

  • [12] facial vein geometry

  • [13] DNA

  • [14] ear geometry

  • [15] odor

  • [16] keystroke dynamics

  • [17] height

  • [18] weight

  • [19] skin color

  • [20] age

  • [21] password(s)
  • Therefore, it would be damn difficult to steal and fake all of those metrics.
    But, nobody ever said anything was perfect, but it would be more accurate than an ID card, which is very easy to falsify.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: There are also devices that can capture iris images of a person walking within a few feet of a video camera (often behind a one-way mirror) so that it can be duplicated and used for illegitimate purposes.

    Like I said before, you don’t rely on only one metric. Use three or more. There could also be many other metrics on record to fall back on for further verification. It’s going to be damned hard (if not impossible) to falsify all of the numerous different types of metrics (see list above).

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: The real problem with biometrics is that once an individual’s biometrics has been compromised, they are compromised for life and can never be trusted again.
    Not true, because it’s very unlikely the 20+ metrics (above) could all be faked. Unlikely if not impossible. It would be simple to reconcile the true identity.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: However, my most severe objection to biometrics as an authentication method is their reliance on a central database that contains the identifying graphic templates.

    Not true. The databases would be replicated (non-central) and securely backed up. And, if ever destroyed, it can be re-established.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: If such database is compromised, then the biometrics of ALL users in the database are compromised for life.

    It would not matter. Backups are abundant. Replicated databases also serve as a backup. An entire city could be wiped off the face of the planet, and the system would continue to operate with replicated databases. And, if absolutely necessary, the data can be re-entered from archives, or re-acquired.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: Voice recognition must be also considered as a potential authentication biometric. Unfortunately, the technology is as yet not sufficiently reliable, is expensive and difficult to implement.

    That’s just one of the many metrics, but it is very promising. I’ve used voice recognition. The computer has to be trained. Afterward, it won’t understand someone else’s voice. This metric is currently not the easiest or cheapest, but will be much cheaper and reliable, eventually.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: It also suffers from all of the disadvantages of having to rely on a central database for storing voiceprint templates.

    Non-sequitur. Where do you think the government stores information about you now? In a computer. Along with your mother’s maiden name, your favorite color, and your favorite movie. What’s the difference? That’s a flimsy excuse.

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: All technologies have their problems. You start from a principle, a theory, a possibility. Then you have to design something out of real world materials, which behaves according to the rules of the real world (which could mean failing to do what you want, or doing something else you didn’t anticipate, and perhaps don’t want). Then you have to implement it in an existing society full of laws, traditions, idiots, vandals and all sorts of other things. What works in theory and what works in practice are not necessarily the same things.
    Well, hell … we might as well all stop cutting our toe nails and finger nails since they just keep on growin’ and growin’ .

    Why be so defeatist?

    Stephen Daughtery wrote: Technology also poses problems in terms of the rights we expect. What exactly keeps a person from being able to keep track of your movements all day? What’s the oversight? Who’s there when that face you’re looking for shows up, if you can get a positive match? I speak of Gods being the only folks able to run a surveillance society, because even if you can capture the information, how does it reach the right people?
    If you are in a public place, what does it matter? If you are not breaking any law, what does it matter? If, if, if. I answered all your ifs, but I’m sure it will fall on deaf ears.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: We had a terrorism watchlist on 9/10. We had a database the people working security could plug into to determine whether a person was on the watchlist. But that didn’t do any good because of the human element. That was a case in which things could have been done better, really.
    It was not properly implemented. I have designed and implemented complex systems and networks. It is possible to make the system useful, reliable, and secure. If it were not possible, then hundreds of millions of people would not use online banking.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: Does it improve when the information is biometric? Instead of having a name not show up, it’s a face or a fingerprint I.D.
    Yes, it does improve the information, because it is very difficult to falsify biometric information. And, it may be impossible to falsify all biometrics, since I only listed 20 biometrics above. There are much more potential biometrics. Possibly thousands or millions. So, that just makes it more and more difficult to falsify IDentification.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: Biometric ID’s have a place in our society. I actually used one on checks for a while, and thought it was the coolest thing. But it’s no magic bullet.
    No one said anything was perfect all the time. But, that’s always the lame excuse. Find some flimsy, weak argument, and blow it out of proportion.
    Stephen Daughtery wrote: That’s one of the things we must learn about technology. We should not blunder our way into a police state thinking that all this new technology can keep us safe, if we simply give up our claim to the presumption of innocence. If you check the legal opinions on what constitutes a reasonable search and seizure, the answer settled upon is pretty plain: warrants and/or probable cause.
    I already showed you the 4th Amendment. Reasonable is the key word.
    Fourth Amendment states: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    No where did I read anything about verifying IDentification as a violation of civil rights. Besides, no one should be forced to participate. If they prefer, they can stand in long, long, long lines where IDentification may take some time by doing it the old, hard, unreliable way.

    OK, I answered all your IFs and BUTs with quite plausible and logical responses.

    But, it doesn’t matter.
    You are just going to have to get used to it.
    Biometrics are coming whether you like it or not.
    In time, you’ll need it to get in your office at work.
    Get into your bank safety deposit box.
    Get onto an airplane.
    Get into a federal courtroom.
    Get into a secure facility.
    Banks will use them to positively identify customers.
    The CIA is already using them.
    Some airports are using Iris scanners.
    I’ve already used fingerprint and hand-geometry scans.

    They are coming whether you like it or not.
    Why? Because it is a better form of IDentification.
    That’s all. To mischaracterize biometrics as a violation of civil rights, impossibly accurate, the sign of the devil, big brother, or end of times is nonsense.

    Biometrics is merely a better way to do what we ALREADY do.

    Identity theft is the nation’s fastest growing crime. When banks start offering customers biometric IDentification, virtually eliminating identity theft, who is going to say “No thanks, I’d rather be a target for identity theft” ?

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 11, 2006 1:33 AM
    Comment #174743

    d.a.n - Wow! Close, but no Nobel Prize today. At least not for debate. If you read closely, Stephan had a completely valid view, asked pertainent questions, and was met with a series of stock responses.

    I need to discuss V.O.I.D. with you. I’m concerned that there may be a significant third party influence that would tend to discredit your mission.

    Posted by: DOC at August 11, 2006 2:09 AM
    Comment #174752

    DOC, I read every word of what Stephen wrote, and broke it down carefully. Stephen raised the same issues I hear all the time in opposition to IDentification by biometrics. My answers were not stock answers, since I don’t even know where they store stock answers. But, I believe I addressed each and every issue, thoroughly. Beware. Many of the issues raised are issues that already exist, and are clever mechanisms to cloud the issue and obscure the facts. While Stephen tried to poke holes in any system, each item was addressed with a simple solution. No system will be perfect, but there was an attempt to presume it is supposed to be. Why? Is what we have now perfect? Just because an alternative is not perfect does not mean it is not better. If so, why so much identity theft? And, if government abuse is a concern, we should already be concerned, because government already has lots of information about us. They can listen to our phone calls. They can monitor our communications, financial transactions, etc. The problem with the current system is that the government can NOT verify who is really WHO, or who is drawing funds from your Social Security account, bank, or ATM. This type of fraud is rampant. Identity theft is real and growing … the fastest growing crime in the U.S. When banks and merchants start offering biometric IDentification, do you think people will choose to remain vulnerable with no good form of IDentification?

    I need to discuss V.O.I.D. with you. I’m concerned that there may be a significant third party influence that would tend to discredit your mission.
    OK. if you’d prefer, email me at d.a.n@comcast.net , because I doubt Stephen Daugherty wants any discussion of VOID on his thread.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at August 11, 2006 3:19 AM
    Comment #174755

    ——Ken Strong—- I did not want to embarrass you
    earlier, but in your post to me, you used the
    verbage, an their is no such word, you can look
    it up if you like. Be nice to people an most of
    the time they will be nice to you. (”)

    Posted by: DAVID at August 11, 2006 4:14 AM
    Comment #174776

    Dan-
    You say it would be damn difficult to steal all of the metrics. You’re wrong. Just hack into the central computer and get the computer records. Once the information leaves the body, it is no longer safe from compromise. It is little ones and zeros just like all other forms of authentication. And as the guy said, a person whose identity is stolen from a biometric source is compromised for life.

    The anatomical problems are critical. Biometrics, by the very etymology of the word, is the measurement of a life form.

    You express confidence that all such problems will be dealt with. Well, there’s one problem with that. Do you speak into your computer, or do you type?

    Biometric data like voice is very tricky, because computers are poor listeners and processors of the human voice. We’re keyed from the very start to distinguish voice from background noise. We can distinguish phonemes with much more accuracy, a critical problem when the difference between one and the other can be tenths, even hundredths of a second. The ifs in technology are not quibbles, they are the very test of a design.

    With a fingerprint scanner, one has to deal with buildups of oil, and yes, fingerprints. I know for a fact that the oils in fingerprints actually can etch into the plastic of a CD or DVD, and are worse for it than a simple scratch

    As for stealing the metrics, you can always hack into the mainframe. And doing that, you can compromise many folks biometrics at once. Duplicating them only makes it worse, because now you have to keep two computer secure from hacker attack. It’s not continued operation that’s the issue, it’s the ability of the system to keep the information used for authentication hidden from Identity thieves.

    You provided no real counter-argument to the necessities of design. You merely asserted that somehow I was just being defeatist. It’s not being defeatist, though, to look at the battlefield and diagnose the possible problems.

    I provided the 9/11 example, and you said it wasn’t properly implemented. Well, that happens in the real world. That happens where people get lazy, are incompetent, make decisions based on narrow office politics, and other stupid decisions. When we design a system to be foolproof, there are plenty of fools around to test it.

    As for Reasonable Searches and Seizures? I’ve already told you that it was the basic legal opinion in this country that warrants and probable cause are what support that. Public areas, to a certain extent, can be monitored, but to do so broadly and without limit is problematic. The questions about the Fourth Amendment are reasonable, because the tracking of a person’s movements and a surveillance of their activities is an invasion of privacy, and privacy is a basic legal right.

    Don’t get me wrong here. I am not trying to beat up on your pet technology unfairly. It is useful in many ways, and does many things well. I just don’t see it as the second coming of sliced bread. I don’t see it through rose colored glasses. I see it through the eyes of somebody who knows all about technology and the limitations of design. Trust me when I say that all technology has its limitations.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2006 8:59 AM
    Comment #174815

    Why has no one made the point that, almost 5 years after 9/11, al Qaeda remains capable of planning and almost accomplishing a direct attack on our citizens? Invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 has not only landed our brave troops in another quagmire like Vietnam, it has diverted our resources, human, financial and spiritual, from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his partners in crime. This gross miscalcalculation, to put it euphemistically, should be brought to the Republicans’ door over and over again.
    As for their slogan of “stay the course,” why has no one replied that this translates to: “now that we are in a hole, let’s continue to dig?”

    Posted by: Dragon at August 11, 2006 11:52 AM
    Comment #174823
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Dan- You say it would be damn difficult to steal all of the metrics. You’re wrong. Just hack into the central computer and get the computer records. Once the information leaves the body, it is no longer safe from compromise. It is little ones and zeros just like all other forms of authentication. And as the guy said, a person whose identity is stolen from a biometric source is compromised for life.
    Then, why have bank accounts and online banking with nothing more than a password? In most cases, what good is stolen metrics going to do a person without the metrics themselves (e.g. fingerprint, iris, etc.) required to get access on a plane?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You express confidence that all such problems will be dealt with. Well, there’s one problem with that. Do you speak into your computer, or do you type?
    I can do both, as I already said above. I already use voice recognition, and have set it up for customers. A calibration process is required to teach the computer. It only works, thereafter, for that one person. The technology is impressive. You can type a letter with it quite easily. For a voice pattern IDentification system, it would not be nearly as complicated, because you don’t have to teach the system to recognize every speech pattern. Only a few given phrases is all that is required, eliminating the lengthy calibration process (which can 10 to 30 minutes, or more).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Biometric data like voice is very tricky, because computers are poor listeners and processors of the human voice. We’re keyed from the very start to distinguish voice from background noise. We can distinguish phonemes with much more accuracy, a critical problem when the difference between one and the other can be tenths, even hundredths of a second. The ifs in technology are not quibbles, they are the very test of a design.
    Again, that is only one of many metrics, and technology improvements will eventually resolve the problems. In the mean time, use three (or more) of the many other metrics.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: With a fingerprint scanner, one has to deal with buildups of oil, and yes, fingerprints. I know for a fact that the oils in fingerprints actually can etch into the plastic of a CD or DVD, and are worse for it than a simple scratch
    Clean it. Or make the scanner more durable. Or replace it just the same way you would replace a drivers’ license or replace parts on an ATM machine when they wear out.

    Most of your complaints are problems that already exist with existing systems, and they are all dealt with.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for stealing the metrics, you can always hack into the mainframe. And doing that, you can compromise many folks biometrics at once. Duplicating them only makes it worse, because now you have to keep two computer secure from hacker attack. It’s not continued operation that’s the issue, it’s the ability of the system to keep the information used for authentication hidden from Identity thieves.
    So? What good are biometrics going to do someone else? Like I said, that won’t them much to get onto an airplane? Stolen biometrics are not useful in the way you think, because data and physical biometrics must match. And, database systems ALREADY exist with all sorts of information about everyone, such as your Social Security number, drivers’ license number, name, address, telephone, a password, your mother’s maiden name, etc., etc., etc.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You provided no real counter-argument to the necessities of design.
    Most certainly did. And, whether you like it or not, Biometrics is coming, and it is merely a better way to do what we ALREADY do, and it is ALREADY in use, and the usage is growing fast. You keep picking on one measely metric, such as voice patterns, even though I keep emphasizing no system should rely on only one metric. You use security issues and unauthorized access to data, but that’s ALREADY an issue with existing systems, and it ignores the fact that another persons’ biometrics are USELESS to another person who does not have the physical biometrics to go along with the data. As a matter of fact, some of the existing security problems could be reduces with better IDentification systems, such as biometrics. That’s the real beauty of the biometrics which you choose to ignore and gloss over. Many have heard and considered all of these weak arguments. So has the CIA, corporations, banks, airports, etc., and they are moving ahead with biometrics. Why? Because it is simply a better form of IDentification.

    NOTE: Stolen biometrics can not help a thief that also does not have the physical biometrics to go along with the data. The thief can’t easily get on an airplane with stolen biometric data if their physical biometrics do NOT match the stolen data. At some point in the reconciliation of data and the true owner of the biometrics, only the true owner has the biometrics that can match the data. Also, if the data is comprimised or changed, the real owner will know it immediately. The real data is easy to re-establish, because only the real owner has the real physical biometrics.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You merely asserted that somehow I was just being defeatist. It’s not being defeatist, though, to look at the battlefield and diagnose the possible problems.
    Yes you are. Defeatism or argumentativeness. Not only with with regard to biometrics, but most everything debated. It’s a pattern.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I provided the 9/11 example, and you said it wasn’t properly implemented. Well, that happens in the real world. That happens where people get lazy, are incompetent, make decisions based on narrow office politics, and other stupid decisions. When we design a system to be foolproof, there are plenty of fools around to test it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for Reasonable Searches and Seizures? I’ve already told you that it was the basic legal opinion in this country that warrants and probable cause are what support that. Public areas, to a certain extent, can be monitored, but to do so broadly and without limit is problematic.
    It’s already happening and growing. Public areas are fair game. England already does it and has seen significant drops in crime due to vast video surveillance systems. Get used to it. There are very good, common-sense, no-brainer reasons for it, and crime statistics prove it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The questions about the Fourth Amendment are reasonable, because the tracking of a person’s movements and a surveillance of their activities is an invasion of privacy, and privacy is a basic legal right.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Don’t get me wrong here. I am not trying to beat up on your pet technology unfairly.

    Yes you are, and to call it MY pet technology proves it, and is as lame and flimsy as your other weak arguments. Talk about fairness?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It is useful in many ways, and does many things well. I just don’t see it as the second coming of sliced bread. I don’t see it through rose colored glasses.

    Some call me pessimistic, but you may take the cake. To characterize someone as looking through rose-colored glasses for advocating biometrics is nonsense. Rather than specious conclusions, how about more facts?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I see it through the eyes of somebody who knows all about technology and the limitations of design.

    That is one of the MOST ARROGANT statements I’ve ever heard.

    You know all about techmology, eh?

    Dang, I bow to your supreme and superior intelligence.

    Stephen, as an electrical engineer, and 25 years of hardware and software design, implementation, and support, I most likely know more about it than you do, and I would not EVER presume to know but a very tiny percentage of all there is to know. Your comment above, that you are “somebody who knows all about technology”, in itself, reveals an uncommon arrogance I don’t see often, and subsequently, a huge flaw in your credibility. But, even overlooking that absurd statement, your arguments are weak and flimsy.

    • It is not a 4th amendment issue, unless the data is misused. That CAN already happen (and may be already happening, with regard to monitored telephone calls and data?).
    • Stolen biometrics is not the huge problem you mischaracterize it to be. On the contrary, the beauty of biometrics (not just one, but three or more metrics) is that the stolen data is of little use to someone else, since they can not use it, since they do not have the physical metrics to match the data. They can’t easily get on an airline with the data. They need the matching biometrics.
    • Many of your points are non-sequiturs, because they are problems that ALREADY exist. But, in many cases, biometric IDentificaiton would reduce the problems. Most importantly, being able to determine true identity, reduce identity theft, reduce fraud, and make it very difficult of criminals, terrorists, and illegal aliens to do certain things (like get on an airline).
    • Questioning the reliability and cost of equipment is not a strong argument. The accuracy is increasing fast and the cost is falling fast. Also, the number of different types of metrics is growing fast too, making it harder and harder for criminals. A damn sight harder than making a fake ID or fake driver’s license.
    • The central database issue is a red-herring, because no such system would rely on one central database. Modern database systems that provide wide availability are replicated across many networks. The data does not exist in merely one place. Security is an issue that ALREADY exists, but the usefulness of biometrics by thieves is limited, since they can’t have the corresponding physical biometrics.
    • The Big Brother argument is a common one. Most of it is paranoia. And, government abuse is truly a separate issue, beacause the government can ALREADY abuse data about us, if they want. In fact, maybe easier, without the ability to determine true identity. It can work both ways.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Trust me when I say that all technology has its limitations.

    Sorry, but when someone says “Trust me when I say”, it is usually a red flag.

    It usually equates to “OK, my case is flimsy, but never mind that, just believe what I say”.

    Famous last words. And, to say “all technology has its limitations” must be the most earth shattering revelation yet. Really?!

    Well, most likely, biometrics is coming whether you want it or not. It is already being used more and more. Not just be government, but in the work place, airports, restricted areas, in place of clock-in timecard, CIA, etc.
    Anywhere that limited access is required. And the technology is getting much better all the time. And the costs are coming down, which is why it is showing up more and more in the workplace, airports, CIA, etc. Hence, you’re going to be a very unhappy person, as the years go by and biometrics become more and more prevalent.

    We’ll have to simply agree to disagree.

    Biometrics offers more advantages than disadvantages.
    When biometrics finally proves that it is a better form of IDentification, who will say “No thanks, I prefer to be vulnerable to identity theft”?

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 11, 2006 12:12 PM
    Comment #174824

    Dragon-
    You don’t have much cause to be worried. There’s been plenty of that point made on the blue column. Heck, that’s part of the underlying theme of the work above.

    It just gets boring to repeat the obvious again and again. The point has been well made, so we’re making other points as well.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2006 12:15 PM
    Comment #174832
    Dragon wrote: As for their slogan of “stay the course,” why has no one replied that this translates to: “now that we are in a hole, let’s continue to dig?”

    Well put.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 11, 2006 12:34 PM
    Comment #174890

    Dan-
    Let me clear something up for you: Regardless of what part of the body, what visual or audio signal it uses for ID, all that ID is in the end is a bunch of binary numbers in a template on some computer. If the Biometric device reads the proper information from you, it authenticates whatever access, and lets you in.

    A thief who can get to that authentication information never has to bring a severed hand or a voice recording, or anything to get into a system. No, all they have to do is hack past the device, and input that information directly into the computer asking for authentification, because that’s all the computer ever sees anyways. Or, they could simply erase your template, and put theirs in place.

    Biometric data is still data, and requires protection, not the least of which because it is incredibly difficult to change the authentication information. That is one advantage to those bad old passwords! Compromise one, and you can come up with another. It makes up in redundancy what it lacks in uniqueness to the user.

    I provided you with factual information on how Biometrics had already had problems, but you seem intent on pushing this technology as a cure-all for security problems. It’s good for some applications, just not for all.

    You consider me a defeatist because I don’t accept all your claims about it. Well, I’m naturally skeptical about claims regarding technology. I know too much about its limitations, about the quirkiness and human factors drenched world in which technology works.

    I know about the way steel fails if you get too much sulfur into it. I know about the complexities and information overload that plagues the huge programs we now write. I know about the way computers do and do not see things like visual images, and why we’re still ahead of computers on so many matters.

    I jokingly called it your pet technology because you seem so big on it. I have a pet technology myself: HDTV. I love it. I want to make movies in it, do all kinds of things in it. But you know what? I recognize the problems in its implementation, issues with quality in terms of compression, camera characteristics, and the ability of the displays to bring forth the imagery asked of them. I know why you should get the 16X9 sets rather than the regular screen ones, but why people are going to do that anyways. I know why what we now call a fullscreen DVD is going to become letterbox, and vice versa.

    Technology is one of my big subjects. I can tell you that the person who talked about the fire at the WTC not being hot enough to melt the steel was wrong about that being a problem, because metals get more ductile the more they heat up; it didn’t have to melt, it just had to fail to keep from bending under its own weight.

    I can tell you that it was a valve that failed in Three Mile Island, and because it never closed precious coolant escaped, and we came damn close to a real China Syndrome.

    I can tell you what the difference between an LCD display, a Plasma Screen, and a standard CRT are, and what the heck 720P and 1080i mean .

    I can tell you general things about how Microchips are made, about the templates and the resists, and about how changes in band-gap engineering are allowing lasers, chips, optical devices and light emitting diodes to develop as never before. I know what a quantum well is, as well as a quantum dot.

    Technology is a big subject for me, and I know all about it. Not everything. That would be arrogant to say. But as I’ve demonstrated, I’ve got pretty broad knowledge of these things.

    Data is data. the computer doesn’t care. As long as the right tokens and codes are in place it will accept things.

    I admit, and have never denied that such technology is in use. But it’s not perfect. This stuff will never be perfect. I’m sure plenty of people like yourself have trusted in technology, only to find unforseen issue cropping up. EVEN EXPERTS.

    I know biometrics are coming. I read the magazines. That’s where I find out about issues and challenges. You’re assuming I’m naive about that. Well, maybe since I’m presenting a mainly negative case, you might get that impression, but the fact is, I know about the promise of such technology. You just seem like a person in need of a good Devil’s Advocate. You’re too trusting of one technology, one approach. That won’t solve everything.

    Sure I want biometrics on important security points. I just want us not to get a false sense of security about these things.

    Not the least of the reason for this is all I can recall about times when the technology worked well, but the people failed utterly.

    That’s why I brought up the terrorism watchlist. There are so many things we could still do amongst with the technology we have to make things work better. Let biometrics have a role, please! But keep in mind that people still have to make decisions, and that no technology works perfectly as intended.

    Flaws in the technology and its use will be exploited by our enemies. Is it not unreasonable to debate about the potential flaws of it, and the pitfalls of becoming too dependent or trusting of it?

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2006 4:38 PM
    Comment #174938
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Dan- Let me clear something up for you: Regardless of what part of the body, what visual or audio signal it uses for ID, all that ID is in the end is a bunch of binary numbers in a template on some computer. If the Biometric device reads the proper information from you, it authenticates whatever access, and lets you in.
    No kiddin’ ? Imagine that. What a revelation.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: A thief who can get to that authentication information never has to bring a severed hand or a voice recording, or anything to get into a system. No, all they have to do is hack past the device, and input that information directly into the computer asking for authentification, because that’s all the computer ever sees anyways. Or, they could simply erase your template, and put theirs in place.

    That’s not likely because that would create duplicate signatures in the database, which could be identified. Guess you didn’t think of that eh?

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Biometric data is still data, and requires protection,

    You have a real knack for stating the obvious.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: That is one advantage to those bad old passwords! Compromise one, and you can come up with another. It makes up in redundancy what it lacks in uniqueness to the user.

    Who said passwords were bad? That was the list above. That should be used in conjunction with other metrics (three or more).

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I provided you with factual information on how Biometrics had already had problems, but you seem intent on pushing this technology as a cure-all for security problems. It’s good for some applications, just not for all.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You consider me a defeatist because I don’t accept all your claims about it.
    That’s not why. It’s not just about this subject. How does any one debate any issue with anyone who knows all about it and uses I in every sentence.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Well, I am naturally skeptical about claims regarding technology. I know too much about its limitations, about the quirkiness and human factors drenched world in which technology works.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I know about the way steel fails if you get too much sulfur into it. I know about the complexities and information overload that plagues the huge programs we now write. I know about the way computers do and do not see things like visual images, and why we’re still ahead of computers on so many matters.
    Of course. You know all about technology.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I jokingly called it your pet technology because you seem so big on it.
    Hmmmmm. Right. Just kidding. It was just a joke.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I have a pet technology myself: HDTV.
    Are you still just joking, now?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I love it. I want to make movies in it, do all kinds of things in it. But you know what?
    That’s nice. What’s it got to do with biometrics?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I recognize the problems in its implementation, issues with quality in terms of compression, camera characteristics, and the ability of the displays to bring forth the imagery asked of them.
    Really? Well, you a wealth of information?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I know why you should get the 16X9 sets rather than the regular screen ones, but why people are going to do that anyways.
    That’s nice.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I know why what we now call a fullscreen DVD is going to become letterbox, and vice versa.
    OK. And?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Technology is one of my big subjects.
    Right. You told me that already …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I see it through the eyes of somebody who knows all about technology and the limitations of design.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I can tell you that the person who talked about the fire at the WTC not being hot enough to melt the steel was wrong about that being a problem, because metals get more ductile the more they heat up; it didn’t have to melt, it just had to fail to keep from bending under its own weight.
    Z z z z z z z z z … .
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I can tell you that it was a valve that failed in Three Mile Island, and because it never closed precious coolant escaped, and we came damn close to a real China Syndrome.
    Uhhhmmmm huhhhh … that’s nice. You are smart feller.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I can tell you what the difference between an LCD display, a Plasma Screen, and a standard CRT are, and what the heck 720P and 1080i mean .
    Wow. No kiddin’ ?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I can tell you general things about how Microchips are made, about the templates and the resists, and about how changes in band-gap engineering are allowing lasers, chips, optical devices and light emitting diodes to develop as never before. I know what a quantum well is, as well as a quantum dot.
    Wow. How impressive. You already told me you know “all about technology”. Are you trying to prove it now?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Technology is a big subject for me, and I know all about it.
    Yes, you keep saying that.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But as I have demonstrated, I have got a pretty broad knowledge of these things.
    Yeah, Yeah … repeat after me …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Data is data.
    You really are smart. Really. I’ve never met anyone else that “knows all about technology”. Tell me more.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The computer doesn’t care.
    Really? You mean it doesn’t have feelings?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As long as the right tokens and codes are in place it will accept things.
    Z z z z z z z z …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I admit, and have never denied that such technology is in use. But it’s not perfect. This stuff will never be perfect. I’m sure plenty of people like yourself have trusted in technology, only to find unforseen issue cropping up. EVEN EXPERTS.
    Well, you should know since you know all about it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I know biometrics are coming. I read the magazines. That’s where I find out about issues and challenges. You’re assuming I’m naive about that. Well, maybe since I am presenting a mainly negative case, you might get that impression, but the fact is, I know about the promise of such technology. You just seem like a person in need of a good Devil’s Advocate. You’re too trusting of one technology, one approach. That won’t solve everything.
    If you say so. What can you say to someone who knows everything and is so enamored with themself ?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Sure I want biometrics on important security points. I just want us not to get a false sense of security about these things.
    Really? With all its pitfalls that you know all about?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Not the least of the reason for this is all I can recall about times when the technology worked well, but the people failed utterly.
    Z z z z z z …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: That’s why I brought up the terrorism watchlist. There are so many things we could still do amongst with the technology we have to make things work better. Let biometrics have a role, please! But keep in mind that people still have to make decisions, and that no technology works perfectly as intended.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Flaws in the technology and its use will be exploited by our enemies. Is it not unreasonable to debate about the potential flaws of it, and the pitfalls of becoming too dependent or trusting of it?
    Of course it’s not unreasonable. When does the debate begin? Posted by: d.a.n at August 11, 2006 6:58 PM
    Comment #174971

    OMG, D.A.N. told a joke, and I laughed heartily, what is the world coming to, and F*ck biometrics.
    Our local grocery store, now owned by Albertsons, tried to sell us all on using our fingerprint to access our debits cards. That went over like a lead balloon.

    Posted by: ohrealy at August 11, 2006 9:13 PM
    Comment #175009

    Dan-
    There’s no need to get rude here.

    We don’t get to run our ideal technology. If you want to use biometrics now, you have to deal with current processing, current systems integration, current everything. You don’t get to run 2016’s technology. Whatever’s available, flaws and all, that’s what you’ll get.

    In Scotland, a state of the art Fingerprint lock system is successfully defeated by prisoners.

    In Boston’s Logan Airport, where many of the terrorists boarded, a Facial Recognition system flunks its test.

    Here’s a PC World Article on it.

    I mean, come on, Dan! This is not Bullshit I’m talking here. Fact is, all technologies, especially immature ones like biometric IDs are vulnerable to this kind of cheating.

    Fact is, I do know quite a bit about digital sampling, which is the basis of most biometrics. My degree is in Telecommunication, which means I learned about Digital Video Cameras, Digital Audio Recording, Digital media and signal processing and quite a few other technologies. As a person interested in the way the mind works, I’ve taken classes and read up on subjects concerning artificial intelligence, neuroscience about how the brain processes voices, faces, and visuals (and how computers have a hard time with them). As a person with a life-long interest in computer science, not to mention current employment in the IT field, I’ve learned a great deal about the processing demands for captured information. So, I’m not talking out of my ass.

    And of course, because I’m speaking from personal experience, I use the first person pronoun. If you think I’m obnoxious now, just wait until Stephen Daugherty starts referring to himself in the third person. Stephen would much rather write conversationally, so I use the first person pronoun instead, and avoid writing like I’m Lord Greystoke, King of the Jungle.

    All sampling technology has to reduce its biometric yield to data. How it does that determines what kind of physical cheats can be used to fake an ID, or copy it. All sampling technology draws the line at a certain resolution. I read accounts in my search of multiple people being able to access a biometric ID because the resolution was so low on the pattern. Low resolution, of course, makes it more likely the pattern will resemble others. Of course, if you set it too high, with certain fingerprint ID’s, even the rotation of your finger might create a false negative.

    As for my list of facts, yes I was trying to demonstrate that I had broad factual knowledge of these things. But of course, you’ve chosen to be rather rude about all this. Was it a mistake for me to let that crybaby graphic slide? Did I give you the impression that I tolerate such baiting well?

    I can provide you with multiple examples of biometric failures and problems. Does this mean the technology is doomed? No. It means we should be cautious in its use, and not declare it, even with multiple signatures, to be foolproof. I’m sure you could provide counterexamples of newer models doing better, but still my point would hold: for this technology to be useful, it has to be matured to the point where it can work in the messy real world. Some technology has matured to that level. A great deal has not. Folks will not bet their security on biometrics until their reliability gets to a certain point. Those who do choose to bet on it now risk a great deal.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 11, 2006 11:38 PM
    Comment #175034
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: We don’t get to run our ideal technology. If you want to use biometrics now, you have to deal with current processing, current systems integration, current everything. You don’t get to run 2016’s technology. Whatever’s available, flaws and all, that’s what you’ll get.
    We can’t we use 2016 technology?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: In Scotland, a state of the art Fingerprint lock system is successfully defeated by prisoners.
    Prisoners should not have access to such things in the first place.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: In Boston’s Logan Airport, where many of the terrorists boarded, a Facial Recognition system flunks its test.
    That metric is fairly new and is not the only metric that could be used. Also, more than one metric (three or more) should be used.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I mean, come on, Dan! This is not Bullshit I‘m talking here.
    Sounds pretty deep to me. Where are my boots?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Fact is, all technologies, especially immature ones like biometric IDs are vulnerable to this kind of cheating.
    So is what we have now, which is why identity theft is the fastest growing crime. No one ever said it was perfect, but better than what we have now. Just because a thing is not perfect is not a reason to equate it to a failure. That’s like not cutting you toenails just because they keep growing.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Fact is, I do know quite a bit about digital sampling, which is the basis of most biometrics.
    Yeah, yeah, … Z z z z z z … here we go again …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: My degree is in Telecommunication, which means I learned about Digital Video Cameras, Digital Audio Recording, Digital media and signal processing and quite a few other technologies.
    Yeah, yeah, … you keep telling us how much you know … strange …
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As a person interested in the way the mind works, I‘ve taken classes and read up on subjects concerning artificial intelligence, neuroscience about how the brain processes voices, faces, and visuals (and how computers have a hard time with them). As a person with a life-long interest in computer science, not to mention current employment in the IT field, I‘ve learned a great deal about the processing demands for captured information.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: So, I‘m not talking out of my ass.
    HHHHhhhmmmmmm, maybe not all the time. Why are you trying so hard to convince us? Why doth protest so much? Are you trying to wow someone with a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering, minor in Math, and decades of experience designing, building, and implementing, networks, realtime data acquisition, and various hardware and software systems (for 25 years)? But forgive me, because my degrees and 25 years of experience must seem miniscule in comparison, and freely admit not to be “somebody who knows everthing about technology”, as some claim to.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: And of course, because I‘m speaking from personal experience, I use the first person pronoun. If you think I‘m obnoxious now,
    You said it, not me.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: … just wait until Stephen Daugherty starts referring to himself in the third person. Stephen would much rather write conversationally, so I use the first person pronoun instead, and avoid writing like I‘m Lord Greystoke, King of the Jungle.
    You’re not getting it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: All sampling technology has to reduce its biometric yield to data. How it does that determines what kind of physical cheats can be used to fake an ID, or copy it. All sampling technology draws the line at a certain resolution. I read accounts in my search of multiple people being able to access a biometric ID because the resolution was so low on the pattern.
    That’s human error, bad configuration, or cheap equipment. In the real world, IDentificaiton stations would have backup equipment and spare parts that can quickly be replaced. All of your arguments have simple solutions.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for my list of facts, yes I was trying to demonstrate that I had broad factual knowledge of these things.
    Yes, we know. As you said before, you “know all about technology”.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But of course, you’ve chosen to be rather rude about all this. Was it a mistake for me to let that crybaby graphic slide?
    You didn’t let it slide. You deleted it, which is quite revealing in itself. I doubt most writers here would not have deleted it. As for the rudeness you accuse me of, you may want to take a look in the mirror.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Was it a mistake for me to let that crybaby graphic slide?
    Are you threatening to ban me?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Did I give you the impression that I tolerate such baiting well?
    Baiting? You need to carefully review everything that has been written. Much of it are questions only. Much of it is mild, benign humor. None of it was any worse than you do all the time. Perhaps what is really getting your goat is the truth?
  • Posted by: d.a.n at August 12, 2006 1:03 AM
    Comment #175048

    —— d.a.n—- Seems like a good debate has turned into a heated an angry disagreement. Would it not
    be wiser to let cooler heads prevail for awhile?

    Posted by: DAVID at August 12, 2006 3:03 AM
    Comment #175073

    OMG, d.a.n., that was funny, and certainly makes me wary of relying too much on the subjective form of the first person pronoun. No offense, Stephen; your articles are generally thoughtful, but his nitpicking was inspired and hilarious.

    Posted by: Trent at August 12, 2006 9:45 AM
    Comment #175095

    Dan-
    Where’s your argument?

    I show you that prisoners are getting out of their cells and wandering a prison because they’ve defeated a fingerprint security system, and what’s your response? They shouldn’t be there. That’s obvious. Regardless, the reason they’re getting access they shouldn’t have is the failure of the system.

    I talk about a facial recognitions system, and you say, oh, it’s new. And of course more than one metric should be used. Well, what other metric?

    If we’re trying to identify terrorists in a public space, this system, putatively, could do that. But can it? There’s a real question about how good these systems can actually be. The essential issue is the quality of the match. Video, even digital video, can be very confusing for a program to seek patterns in. Just look at any compressed video, and you’ll see tons of artifacts from the codec failing to duplicate the complex visual patterns that make up an image.

    Now tell that computer to scan multiple frames of video, even at a low frame rate, and look for matches for faces admidst a see of candidates, each one in constant motion, each one more like oblique to the lens rather than looking straight at it. Now ask it to do it accurately in close enough to near time that the person’s not gone before you have the chance to sic big men with guns and tasers after it.

    Ten years ago, even thinking of doing this would have been foolhardy. Even now, it’s a technical challenge, and one the system apparently fail.

    Facial recognition would be a crucial technology for identifying suspects in a public area, because most other biometric IDs would require more close examination. Even with Iris detection you would still be vulnerable to countermeasures involving contacts. There’s not much point in deploying these security measures if terrorists can easily defeat them. The expense in installing, maintaining and purchasing such systems would be better used on more reliable techniques and technology.

    I offered you my credentials, as they relate to understanding the technology, and you got rude about it. I may not have a degree in all these things, but at least I’m keeping up with issues on it. Your awareness of these issues has not been indicated by what you’ve written. These issues, for the purpose of a political discussion about the means used for security, are not inconsequential. They are at the heart of both of my lates posts: that is, what means of investigation and interdiction actually work best. This is the difference between waste and usefulness in security.

    You say they should configure these things better, or they should do this or that. Well what if putting a device at a fingerprint scanner at a higher resolution means it gets so finicky it’s keeping your secrets even from yourself? What if the system is so high maintenance that it represents a bothersome drain on resources and man-hours. Such systems often cause problems when people just stop trying, either ceasing to use them, or becoming lax about them. Human factors are not a footnote to these matters, they are crucial field of interaction which can mean the difference between security, and a false sense of security.

    As for the deletion of the graphic, I am well within my rights to do so. I am a contributing editor, and one of the policies I uphold is the one that headlines every column, and which you seem all to willing to dispense with: Critique the message, not the messenger. That graphic was insulting, and deliberately so.

    But I’m not a dictator. That’s perhaps my first deletion in months. Months. I usually leave it to the other editors to police things. But you know something? You made it personal. My response? I cut it out, and that was that.

    My question to you is whether you want to continue such behavior. I’d just as soon we bury the hatchet and debate the facts and issues, not each other’s character. I feel such arguments are a losing proposition on both sides, and if I let you get into it, I will get drawn into it inevitably.

    I’ve maintained, and enjoy maintaining the standards of “critique the message”. Things actually get discussed, rather than merely fought over on these columns. People make grudging concessions in both directions. I love that there is this mix, this interaction amidst it. I have no desire to stifle it with heavy-handed use of my privileges.

    I’m not the one you have to fear. I’d prefer just to discuss things. I have very little interest in banning you.

    If, though, the moderators come around and see either of our posts failing the policy, whoever fails the policy stands at risk of that banning. I have maintained over two years of activity on this sight with few such warnings. The question is, can you be reasonable enough to restrain your behavior?

    I’d rather we settle things. But that is your decision. For my part, I will try and keep my cool. If you decide to continue though, appropriate measures will be taken by me, or by others. The worse I’m inclined to do with you at this point is delete insults and personal attacks. The moderators, though, can and will ban you if you violate the guiding principle of the forum of critiquing the message, not the messentger.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2006 11:38 AM
    Comment #175124
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Dan- Where’s your argument?
    Hmmmmmmmm. The tone of the question strikes me as a bit rude?

    Oh well. All, please forgive me for repeating myself, but the question has been posed, so here we go again … Don’t use only one metric. Use multiple metrics. Use the best types. Not the ones still in development. Nothing works without a bit of common-sense. Human error is not necessarily a failure of a system. The problem is usually a matter of negligence, discipline, insufficient training, or laziness.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote:I show you that prisoners are getting out of their cells and wandering a prison because they’ve defeated a fingerprint security system,
    That was already addressed (above). Such a system should not be available to prisoners for purposes of security.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: … and what’s your response? They shouldn’t be there. That’s obvious. Regardless, the reason they’re getting access they shouldn’t have is the failure of the system.
    Oh, so you actually read it … No, it is not a failure of the system. It is a misuse of the system.

    To blame it on the system is like blaming food for making people fat.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I talk about a facial recognitions system, and you say, oh, it’s new. And of course more than one metric should be used. Well, what other metric?
    That article you provided is over four years old (July 2002). Things are improving, getting more affordable, and there are numerous other metrics.

    Also, the PC World Article was also four years old (Aug 2002). Technology changes fast, so quoting 4 year old articles is not very convincing.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If we’re trying to identify terrorists in a public space, this system, putatively, could do that. But can it? There’s a real question about how good these systems can actually be. The essential issue is the quality of the match. Video, even digital video, can be very confusing for a program to seek patterns in. Just look at any compressed video, and you’ll see tons of artifacts from the codec failing to duplicate the complex visual patterns that make up an image.
    One metric should not be relied up. If there’s a problem, repeat the measurement, or take extra steps, or use a backup device or procedure. There are lots of ways to make systems reliable and affordable. Misuse of technology does not equate to a failed technology. To assert otherwise is like saying:
    • guns kill people
    • pencils miss spel wordz
    • cars make people drive drunk
    • spoons made Rosie O’Donnell fat
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Now tell that computer to scan multiple frames of video, even at a low frame rate, and look for matches for faces admidst a see of candidates, each one in constant motion, each one more like oblique to the lens rather than looking straight at it. Now ask it to do it accurately in close enough to near time that the person’s not gone before you have the chance to sic big men with guns and tasers after it.
    Having worked on robotic vision recognition systems, it is clear that it can be done, reliably. Thermography and vein geometry may be more promising metrics. The number of potential metrics is large.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Ten years ago, even thinking of doing this would have been foolhardy. Even now, it’s a technical challenge, and one the system apparently fail.
    It’s getting there fast. It’s coming, and for many good reasons. IDentification is important, and people will want it when it makes them more secure. Supply and demand.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Facial recognition would be a crucial technology for identifying suspects in a public area, because most other biometric IDs would require more close examination. Even with Iris detection you would still be vulnerable to countermeasures involving contacts. There’s not much point in deploying these security measures if terrorists can easily defeat them. The expense in installing, maintaining and purchasing such systems would be better used on more reliable techniques and technology.
    Again, those are not the only metrics available. And, momentarily removing contact lenses before boarding an airliner is not much of an inconvenience compared to other measures of today. Such flaws and problems are being resolved every day, becoming more reliable and affordable. Again, no system is perfect, and cherry-picking a few disadvantages does not equate to failure or inferior. Billions of private funding are being spent in this industry, and people will want it if it makes them and their assets safer. Before much longer, it is likely to show up as a service provided by financial institutions.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I offered you my credentials, as they relate to understanding the technology, and you got rude about it. I may not have a degree in all these things, but at least I’m keeping up with issues on it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Your awareness of these issues has not been indicated by what you’ve written.
    Nonsense. Who is being rude now? Why is there a web-page on my web-site dedicated to biometrics? So the “awareness of these issues” in your statement above is not only rude, but inaccurate too. Especially in view of my experience with some of these devices and robotic vision recognition systems.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You say they should configure these things better, or they should do this or that. Well what if putting a device at a fingerprint scanner at a higher resolution means it gets so finicky it’s keeping your secrets even from yourself?
    Non-sequitur. Any station should have backup equipment and procedures.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: What if the system is so high maintenance that it represents a bothersome drain on resources and man-hours.
    Then, it is not appropriate. Use a better method or improve the system. Giving up and never trying wont’ ever solve anything.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Such systems often cause problems when people just stop trying, either ceasing to use them, or becoming lax about them.
    That’s a separate issue. That is a training and/or discipline problem, and can exist with any system, no matter how well designed or reliable.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Human factors are not a footnote to these matters, they are crucial field of interaction which can mean the difference between security, and a false sense of security.
    Again, that’s a separate issue. Even the most costly, idiot-proof system can’t fix everything.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As for the deletion of the graphic, I am well within my rights to do so.
    Power corrupts.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I am a contributing editor, and one of the policies I uphold is the one that headlines every column, and which you seem all to willing to dispense with: Critique the message, not the messenger. That graphic was insulting, and deliberately so.
    To you maybe. Don’t you have a sense of humor? (NOTE: That is a question).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: But I‘m not a dictator.
    Doth protest too much.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: That’s perhaps my first deletion in months. Months. I usually leave it to the other editors to police things. But you know something? You made it personal. My response? I cut it out, and that was that.
    Good for you. How revealing.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: My question to you is whether you want to continue such behavior.
    I’m not doing anything wrong. Certainly, not anything to get so upset about.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I‘d just as soon we bury the hatchet and debate the facts and issues, not each other’s character.
    Not necessary. I’m not upset, and never was. Just having a friendly debate. If you took offense, you should perhaps closely examine what it was and why you took offense. Where was there anything that was so egregious? Look carefully. Many things are merely questions, and did not even address you directly.

    I feel such arguments are a losing proposition on both sides, and if I let you get into it, I will get drawn into it inevitably.
    Well, don’t get drawn into it. Ignore it. Especially since it is fairly benign and harmless.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I‘ve maintained, and enjoy maintaining the standards of “critique the message”. Things actually get discussed, rather than merely fought over on these columns. People make grudging concessions in both directions. I love that there is this mix, this interaction amidst it. I have no desire to stifle it with heavy-handed use of my privileges.
    Hmmmmmmm. Deleting a cry-baby image is not heavy handed?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I‘m not the one you have to fear. I‘d prefer just to discuss things. I have very little interest in banning you.
    Hmmmmmmm. Are you sure?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If, though, the moderators come around and see either of our posts failing the policy, whoever fails the policy stands at risk of that banning. I have maintained over two years of activity on this sight with few such warnings. The question is, can you be reasonable enough to restrain your behavior?
    Can you? You have just called me rude, and dedicated many paragraphs to do so, and subtly threatened to have me banned. Perhaps, someone should look at their own behavior?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I‘d rather we settle things. But that is your decision.
    No, it is mostly your decision.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: For my part, I will try and keep my cool.
    Good. Wise advice.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If you decide to continue though, appropriate measures will be taken by me, or by others.
    Continue what? What was so egregious? There is someone else here that often sprinkles mild insults at others throughout their comments. Interesting now, to get upset at a little of their own medicine? (NOTE: that’s a question).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The worse I‘m inclined to do with you at this point is delete insults and personal attacks. The moderators, though, can and will ban you if you violate the guiding principle of the forum of critiquing the message, not the messentger.
    Good. That rule should apply to everyone. So, what’s really upsetting you? (NOTE: That is merely a question)
  • Posted by: d.a.n at August 12, 2006 1:39 PM
    Comment #175128

    On this issue, I feel like a Luddite. I refuse to use banks that make me thumbprint my checks, I refuse to use those bio-scan thumbprint debit dealies at the grocery store, I hate the fact my purchases can be tracked so I often use cash, I really detest the idea that surveillance cameras track much of my movements. I WANT to move about the United States undetected.

    Posted by: Trent at August 12, 2006 1:48 PM
    Comment #175130

    At this point, someone needs to just walk away. This fight isn’t worth it.

    Posted by: Trent at August 12, 2006 1:58 PM
    Comment #175138

    Trent,
    I’m not upset. It’s not really that serious.
    There has been nothing egregious.
    Just a few minor barbs, a little sarcasm, and a bit of humor and satire.
    Nobody lost their temper or control.
    I have seen much, much, much worse.
    Stephen’s a fair writer, even if we don’t agree on some things, and will be happy to debate the pros and cons of biometrics, or other subjects with Stephen anytime, now or in the future.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 12, 2006 2:32 PM
    Comment #175143

    Stephen Daugherty,

    Just a bit of friendly, constructive criticism to make your writing better.
    Writers should try to avoid the excessive use of the pronoun, “I” so much.
    It appears egotistical.
    Every time it is used, a writer should think of a way to reword the sentence without it. There is almost always a way to word it more effectively without “I” within the sentence.

    BTW. You’re a smart guy. Really. Someone as bright as you does not have to try so hard to convince others of it.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 12, 2006 2:46 PM
    Comment #175158

    Kevin23,

    Thanks Sport. (That’s my common reply when people call me “Big Guy”.) But no, really, thank you. You re-emphasized the fact that the word “appears” has its own definition, a definition which has no real place in determining our actions against terrorism. As I said above, the threat is real and it continues.

    While Stephen may steadfastly watch the threat no matter what appears or doesn’t appear, I find most liberals eager to either dismiss the threat or to just trivialize it. Instead, their big “call to arms” are law suits against and subpoenas for certain Republicans to include the President … which is far from the #1 threat to the USA right now. I just don’t see a Republican blowing up a school bus with C4 … but I do imagine terrorists doing that, and much worse.

    So even if for those who still think “Bush lied” (even though the rest of the world agreed at least with the WMD threat if not the invasion itself), “Bush is Hitler”, “Cheney is evil”, etc. ….. why don’t you let that simmer and get the alligator closest to the boat: Islamic Facist Terrorism. THAT’S WHAT WE NEED TO CONCENTRATE ON … and that’s all I’m trying to say.

    Posted by: Ken Strong at August 12, 2006 5:14 PM
    Comment #175160

    Stephen,

    I don’t feel you responded to my last post directly, instead just saying that I didn’t read your last post. Anyway, I’ll accept your apology for saying I “cling to war” at the moment you offer it.

    The 1% doctrine is a bad doctrine indeed, but if all you have is bits and pieces (which is pretty common when going after terror cells that could literally be anywhere in the world), then all you have is 1%. In other words, IMO it’s better than doing nothing.

    It’s like any war. Let’s take WWII for instance which, although at the time had many dissenters, is now deemed unanimously as a just war. (Kinda like Gulf War I.) The option to go to war is a bad option … the option not to go to war is a much worse option. Neither option is/was good, we just choosed the lesser of 2 evils.

    I feel the same way about the so-called 1% doctrine. BTW, that’s grossly exaggerated depending on which event/circumstance you’re talking about, but I’ll accept it for argument’s sake.

    We are not fighting a uniformed enemy. They intentionally hide out in and attack civilians. They do nothing in accordance with the Geneva Conventions but, except for American Conservatives and a few folks in England, the world thinks they should have Geneva protections. Ironic. They have no accountability for individual or unit (terrorist cell) actions. They are scum. But they are not scum in the way that infinitesimal percentages of US Soldiers are scum, our enemy is scum by design. They encourage and promote their own “scumminess” instead of acting judiciously against it. Their leaders have teenagers forced into marriages. They slaughter women if they accidentally glance at another man … which is all their women can do wrong since the rest of their body is forcefully covered up by a black blanket. I could go on, as you could too I’m sure.

    So, if 1% odds are all we have in getting at this enemy, so be it. You and I can both rightfully wish it was better, but to throw our hands up in the air and only act on the extremely rare cases where chances are as high as 25 or 50% … that’s the worst of 2 evils IMO.

    And for those brave souls who actually engage in the 1% searches to root out terrorism: Good Hunting!

    Posted by: Ken Strong at August 12, 2006 5:47 PM
    Comment #175182

    Dan-
    Read the Rules For Participation below the comment window. That will clear up my views on that matter, and this paragraph will be the last you hear from me on the matter.

    On the matter of the use of “I”, it’s just the way I write. It has nothing to do with ego. It’s just the relation of first person perspective. That’s it. I’ll try to be more varied in my writing, but I spend far too much time on these comments as it is.

    On the matter of multiple biometrics, that doesn’t do you much good if the problems with the individual means of measurement haven’t been ironed out. You could just make a complicated mess of security if all those quirks compound each other at once.

    You haven’t said which specific technologies would be grouped together. You also haven’t come out and given me examples of successes. In that 2003 article I linked to, Cameras mounted in public spaces taking general pictures never made on one match. When I said your awareness of these issues had not been indicated by what you had written, I was not meaning insult. Take what I said at face value. You don’t offer anecdotes or other accounts which would fill in the blanks on the premises of your arguments. You don’t present a balanced picture of the technology. Instead, you offer an idealistic plug for it.

    Perhaps that’s where our disagreement hinges. I have read about science and technology all my life. I have also read and watched many movies and books which made big predictions for the technologies of the future. More often than not, technology takes a different route than expected.

    Who hasn’t seen 2001: A Space Oddysey, with bases on the moon in a time already several years past? Or all those movies about the future from the Sixties, where all the future computers are mainframes or larger? People are generally lousy at predicting the course of new technology.

    It doesn’t get much better when you get into the science magazines. Untested theories and technologies are often commented on, with the real world complications rarely factored in.

    Much of biometrics, I feel, is in that state. If it does work, oh what a wonderful day. But if it’s not, we need to plan our security differently.

    And if we do get things up, the matter of training, maintenance, and human factors in the interaction are not to be taken lightly. There are whole books out there about such failures, and the problems they cause. False negatives will compromise security. False positives will become a problem in terms of liability, civil liberties, and the patience people have in the use of the technology. Training is important, if the technology is not intuitive. The technology should be user friendly, if possible, because the harder it is to work the things right, the harder it will be to maintain security properly. You would not give a cop a handgun whose construction makes it difficult to fire the weapon quickly or accurately. So you should not give a screener a device he or she could not use in real time to identify threats.

    Additionally, in the end, if Biometrics is not the technology that works best in a situation, we should chunk it. No use in being high tech if it confers no advantage.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2006 8:19 PM
    Comment #175184

    Ken Strong-
    I apologize for my unintended insult. I just got the sense that my point hadn’t come across.

    As for clinging to the war, I said you could do that if you wished, but I never said that’s what you did. So many People on the Right do cling to the war, trying to argue to the American public, which is mostly against continuing the war, that continuing the war is necessary to protecting us against the terrorists. Only thing is, this war has been counterproductive in that regard. My support of the successful conclusion of this war has been based on getting us even in that regard, fixing Iraq so we don’t have this failed stated presenting us with a threat that will come back to haunt us like Afghanistan did, after we failed to aid in its reconstruction. I do no believe we can maintain a presence there forever, though, and prevent things from going out of control.

    On the One Percent Doctrine, I would take the Gene Kranz line that we should work the problem and not make things worse by guessing. We should start from what we know, and move forward, sensing things out and making educated guesses. One of the big problems with Cheney’s doctrine is how easily one’s ego and beliefs can muddy the waters of fact; it’s only inevitable when you’re running more on perception of threat than evidence. perceptions can feedback on themselves without end, if the facts aren’t there to moderate them. It’s ironic that the Right should be so concerned about bias in the media throwing off their “intelligence” about the real news picture, and yet promote a sensibility about real intelligence where bias becomes so much more the major player.

    Riding home from work one day, I was discussing current events with my parents, when my dad made the point that if somebody did to our soldiers what we have done to folks, we would be up in arms about it.

    Could you imagine Bush or yourself standing still if you saw American soldiers in those Abu Ghraib images, and their torturers were Iraqis under Saddam Hussein? We would be disgusted, angry, and much more likely to call for war or volunteer for it if somebody asked for our help. We talked about closing down rape rooms and torture chambers as we rolled in. Americans do not have the stomach for torture, and should not develop the taste for it.

    The Fewer the examples of hypocrisy our enemies can point to, the better. Part of America’s security is the respect of other nations and other peoples for us. We need more friends in this world, and Bush’s paranoid delusional policies are convincing even our friends to back away from us. That’s not security, that’s storing up bad karma that’s going to come back to haunt us.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 12, 2006 8:45 PM
    Comment #175301
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Dan- Read the Rules For Participation below the comment window. That will clear up my views on that matter, and this paragraph will be the last you hear from me on the matter.
    Already read it more than once … apparently, someone else needs to re-read it, as evidenced by the comments below.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: On the matter of the use of “I”, it’s just the way “I” write. It has nothing to do with ego.
    Sure it does. How many other people write that way?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: It’s just the relation of first person perspective. That’s it.
    Nope. Just like graphoanalysis, it reveals something about the person who writes it.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: “I”‘ll try to be more varied in my writing, but “I” spend far too much time on these comments as it is.
    Well, we are off to a good start?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: On the matter of multiple biometrics, that doesn’t do you much good if the problems with the individual means of measurement haven’t been ironed out. You could just make a complicated mess of security if all those quirks compound each other at once.
    IF, IF, IF , IF … nothing would ever be accomplished IF we listened to all the defeatists and nay-sayers. Besides, there are ALREADY countless success stories (see below for just a few), and growing fast, daily.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You haven’t said which specific technologies would be grouped together. You also haven’t come out and given me examples of successes.

    Well, pardon me. It was assumed someone could do their own research, and now reveals the problem.

    • ABIS is a success, and being used for years in IRAQ. It is a multi-biometric search engine.
    • 01-APR-2005: In a long-term test of biometric technology, Scott AFB, IL, is using a hand-geometry system to improve base access through its Shiloh-Scott MetroLink rail-station entrance. A team of experts from the US Department of Defense (DoD) Biometrics Fusion Center and West Virginia University recently visited Scott AFB to assess the hand-geometry system’s first year of operation. The team found that the system had not only performed well but has also saved money and manpower. Scott AFB considers the biometric implementation a success.
    • VISA Biometric Collection Program a Success: M2 PRESSWIRE-27 October 2004-US DEPT OF STATE: Visa biometric collection program a success(C)1994-2004 M2 COMMUNICATIONS LTD; RDATE:10262004; The Department of State is collecting digital index fingerscans from visa applicants at visa-adjudicating embassies and consulates worldwide, in compliance with Section 303 of the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform.
    • Success Story: Synthesis of Time Management and Biometrics: In a very thorough selection process, Vinzenz Murr determined the requirements and then asked several vendors to submit a quote. The choice fell on ATOSS’s Staff Efficiency Suite. The modular standard software integrates work time management and workforce planning and can be easily adapted to the company’s specific needs. An additional plus was the cooperation with Kaba Benzing. In a pilot project, the ATOSS solution was linked with Kaba Benzing’s Bedanet 91 20 Fingerprint terminals to a biometric data collection solution. Maximilian Schlicht, IT Manager/Organization at Vinzenz Murr explains: “Besides a convincing solution it was also important to us that ATOSS is located directly in Munich. ATOSS’s service was excellent and very convincing.” Because of Vinzenz Murr’s positive experience with biometric time recording, they are now thinking about implementing biometric access control as well, e.g. to open doors to production facilities.
    • 31-DEC-2004: Argus developed packaged offerings using its proprietary iris recognition software and facial recognition technology, the company said. Argus targeted the military, government departments and corporations seeking “absolute assurance” of identity for access control purposes. One example was hospitals, where tight security was needed for dispensing pharmaceuticals and other potentially dangerous substances, Argus said. Argus beat six finalists, including two other IT companies for the top gong in the recent NSW export incubator awards.
    • 19-JUL-2004: Tech Success: Unisys, DAON help travelers fly through lines; the nation’s first registered travelers sped through screening by placing their fingers on biometric readers. In the first hour, about 100 flyers bypassed long lines to reach their flights … Is the project a tech success? It may be too early to tell. Just days into the pilot, Unisys officials said the system was working flawlessly. Still, TSA will run 90-day pilots at five U.S. airports and evaluate results before deciding whether to permanently roll it out. What has been a success, the principals involved said, was how quickly the technology required for Registered Traveler was brought online, which suggests that opportunities exist to rapidly develop and deploy similar security systems.
    • COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA: Biometric technologies boost prison security: CSC analyzed the problem and recommended a three-tier security measure that utilizes barcodes, biometrics, and facial images for identification. To reduce data redundancy and costs, the system uses the control numbers and photo images on the Printrax ID cards issued by the DOC. Using a portable biometric fingerprint enrollment device, fingerprints are enrolled in the database along with the associated photographic images. An employee/vendor swipes his/her ID card and then places a digit on the fingerprint area of the same device. The barcode accesses that individual’s template and the photo appears on the guard’s flat-panel, touch-screen monitor with a green border around it if the data elements match. The guard then simply touches the screen to allow passage through the secure doors. If there is a discrepancy between the barcode and fingerprint, a red border appears around the photo and the person is detained. CSC’s solution has effectively secured the three main exits of the facility. This system also allows for possible future integration with proposed national automated fingerprint information system (AFIS) or other biometric databases. Based on the successful implementation at Graterford, the Pennsylvania DOC hopes to implement this solution at 26 other state correctional institutions.
    • MAY/JUNE-2005: In a short ceremony to recognize the success of the DoD Automated Biometric Identification System and to thank Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense, the Honorable Paul McHale, members of the Biometrics Management Office and Biometrics Fusion Center (by way of video-teleconference) gathered at the Taylor Building in Crystal City, VA, on April 15. Secretary McHale recalled his meeting with (then) Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge more than a year ago in which he looked him “eyeball to eyeball” and said we have a challenge to get the database (that eventually would become ABIS) information converted and usable. Secretary McHale said that not only did the BMO and the BFC meet the time and data conversion goals requested, but that efforts to build ABIS and to equip today’s warfighters with crucial information have exceeded everyone’s expectations.
    • 18-JUL-2006: Snowflake Technologies, subsidiary of Memphis-based Luminetx, raised $6 million in two weeks to advance its vein biometrics into products companies and governments could be using as soon as 2007 to verify everything from employee and voter identities to frequent travelers. “The potential is endless,” said Jim Phillips, chairman and chief executive of Luminetx. “This could eventually make all transportation hubs safer, all workplaces safer and all transactions more secure.” Long term, Snowflake intends to replace all forms of ID: passports, credit cards, ATM cards and driver’s licenses; based on systems that in “five minutes can be broken into by your average hack,” Phillips said. At an airport or workplace, Snowflake scans would allow travelers to pass a hand over a touchless scanner that would read the vein imprint and presumably admit the person to the terminal, office or computer system.
    • 2-FEB-2006: Biometrics use to accelerate in 2006: Electronic passports have driven technological improvements in biometrics and will pave the way for greater commercial use of it in 2006, IT services company Unisys predicted. “Traveler security is driving the adoption of biometrics much faster than commercial pressures would have,” Terry Hartmann, director of secure identification and biometrics at Unisys, said in a statement.
    • July 31, 2006: AuthenTec Ships Record 10 Million Biometric Fingerprint Sensors; 5 Million Sensors Shipped in Past Year Alone; Industry Leaders Say Success Signals Emergence of Biometrics in Mainstream Markets
    • June 19, 2006: Biometrics Success Leads Fujitsu Siemens Computers to Add AuthenTec Fingerprint Sensors to 8 New Notebook and Tablet PCs; Company Offers Broadest Range of Biometric PCs in Europe, Middle East and Africa
    • 20-APR-2006: “Today, the market for voice verification is smaller than the $3.5 billion market for voice recognition, but that could be changing,” says Alex Acero, a senior researcher with Microsoft’s speech technology group in Redmond, WA. “There’s a lot more emphasis on security.” With good reason. Over-the-phone fraud already affects 12% of all banks offering e-payment services, according to the American Bankers Assn. And the problem could worsen as consumers do more banking and shopping on the phone and online.
    • September 2003: Chaim Yudkowsky wrote: More than two years ago, I saw the future. Traveling through Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport, I watched frequent fliers use biometric systems to quickly get their exit visas, instead of waiting in long lines like most of us.
    • May 22, 2006: AuthenTec Fingerprint Sensors to Help Secure 2010 Census In One of Largest U.S. Government Biometrics Implementations; AuthenTec EntréPad 1510 is World’s Smallest Fingerprint Sensor for Wireless Applications
    • May 24, 2006: AuthenTec’s TruePrint Named World’s Best Biometric Fingerprint Sensor Technology; Frost & Sullivan gives AuthenTec 2006 Technology Leadership Award
    • 19-JUN-2006: Biometrics Success Leads Fujitsu Siemens Computers to Add AuthenTec Fingerprint Sensors to 8 New Notebook and Tablet PCs. AuthenTec Offers Broadest Range of Biometric PCs in Europe, Middle East and Africa. MELBOURNE, Fla. & MUNICH, Germany-Building on the success of its first biometric PC last year, Fujitsu Siemens Computers has added the advanced security and convenience of AuthenTec fingerprint sensors to eight notebook and tablet PCs - the broadest range of biometric PCs in Europe.
    • The items above are just a very tiny sampling.

    “Somebody that knows all about technology” might want to do a little more research?

    Sure, anyone can cherry-pick a few things and find problems with everything, but that still does not equate to failure. The obvious enthusiasm, many happy customers, success stories, and advances (almost daily) should reveal to anyone that it is not a hopeless failure.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: In that 2003 article “I” linked to, Cameras mounted in public spaces taking general pictures never made on one match.
    That is an old article. The types of biomertics are increasing all the time. Costs are falling and reliability is increasing fast. Cherry picking a few problematic biometrics does not equate to all biometrics are a failure, a waste of time, hopeless, too complicated, etc., etc., etc.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: When “I” said your awareness of these issues had not been indicated by what you had written, “I” was not meaning insult.
    Sure it was. Sounds like a violation of the “Rules For Participation” (i.e. critique the message, not the messenger)?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Take what “I” said at face value. You don’t offer anecdotes or other accounts which would fill in the blanks on the premises of your arguments. You don’t present a balanced picture of the technology. Instead, you offer an idealistic plug for it.
    Sounds like another violation of the “Rules For Participation” (critique the message, not the messenger)?

    The statement above is not true. Many types of biometrics have been presented (see graphic above), links, and success stories, and the number of biometric types is growing. A robust station would provide for a wide variety of different metrics The successes are numerous, and have seen several in action for a couple of years. Iris scanners are already in use in airports. Hand geometry scanners are popular in the work place. Fingerprint systems are popular and very useful (especially to the FBI, CIA, DoD, law enforcement, military, and in the work place too). To cite a few lame examples of misuse or problems still does not equate to failure. True, some of the specific biometric types have not reached maturity, but they are getting close fast, and one only needs to look at the massive investments, time, and interest. Security is important, an biometrics offers a better for of IDentification.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Perhaps that’s where our disagreement hinges. “I” have read about science and technology all my life.
    That’s nice. Does that make you “somebody that knows all about technology” ?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: “I” have also read and watched many movies and books which made big predictions for the technologies of the future.
    Yeah, yeah … consistent with earlier comments above about “somebody who knows all about technology and the limitations of design”.

    Well, by all means, if it was seen in a sci-fi movie, and we don’t have it now, we should find all predictions suspect, especially about biometrics, despite the fact that it is in use now, already, in many ways and places, and will most likely continue to grow.

    Stephen Daugherty wrote: There are whole books out there about such failures
    Really? Not half books?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: You would not give a cop a handgun whose construction makes it difficult to fire the weapon quickly or accurately.
    Well there we have it. Wonderful analogy. That’s all the proof we need that biometrics is hopeless?
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Additionally, in the end, if Biometrics is not the technology that works best in a situation, we should chunk it.
    Really? Why not improve it? Why give up? Why be defeatist? The fact is, biometrics is coming and we will see more of it (more types and methods), because it is simply offers better forms of IDentification.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: No use in being high tech if it confers no advantage.
    Biometrics does offer many advantages, which is why its use is growing fast. To deny it is folly. It is already being used successfully. It is a revolution of sorts, and we will soon see much more of it, because it simply provides a better way to do what we already try to do. Just because some metrics have not reached maturity yet does not diminish the importance, value, or potential and probability of future use, and does not equate to “no advantage”, or “such failures”, or justify saying “we should chunk it”, or “doesn’t do you much good”.

    That’s my take on it, but admittedly not from “somebody who hows all about technology and the limitations of design”.

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 13, 2006 1:13 PM
    Comment #175319

    “O wad some Power the giftie gie us/ To see oursels as ithers see us!”

    d.a.n., why are you doing this? You’ve made your points about biometrics. Can’t you see that your tactics have become oounter productive? Let it go. …

    Posted by: Trent at August 13, 2006 2:32 PM
    Comment #175329
    Trent wrote: You’ve made your points about biometrics.

    Trent,
    Stephen was debating the lack of “successes”, so I provided some. Also,

    Stephen Daugherty wrote:
    You haven’t said which specific technologies would be grouped together. You also haven’t come out and given me examples of successes.

    So, a list of 18+ biometric success stories were provided to support the case for biometrics. And previously, a number of different biometric types were listed too (e.g. iris scan, fingerprint, finger geometry, hand geometry, facial geometry, eye color, voice pattern, retina, hand vein geometry, signature, facial thermogram, facial vein geometry, DNA, ear geometry, odor, keystroke dynamics, height, weight, skin color, age, password(s)).

    Then Stephen wrote:


    You don’t offer anecdotes or other accounts which would fill in the blanks on the premises of your arguments. You don’t present a balanced picture of the technology. Instead, you offer an idealistic plug for it.”

    So, a list of real cases and news were provided to refute that statement.

    And also:

    Stephen Daugherty wrote:
    Dan-
    Read the Rules For Participation below the comment window. That will clear up my views on that matter, and this paragraph will be the last you hear from me on the matter.

    Trent,
    Now pretend that was you. How would you respond? The debate continues if Stephen wants it to, and he continued the debate about biometrics, since he responded to my last post with another post, and pointed out my lack of showing specific technologies and successes (repeatedly, actually), and also posted yet another subtle warning (or threat) for me to read the “Rules of Participation”. Trent, how would that make you feel? So, perhaps your question to me, “why are you doing this?” should be directed at someone else?
    Others here appear to have received insults too, and doesn’t it seem that the excuses of “unintended insult” or “I was not meaning insult”, and empty apologies ring false after the hundredth time? So, if anyone still wants to debate biometrics further, that’s fine. The last post provides numerous reasons, success stories of various biometric type, and supporting hyper-links. That’s why we are here … to debate the issues. At any rate, a few minor slights and humor often enter into such discussions, but usually, however someone appears, it is primarily of their own making, and only one can make themsleves look a certain way as opposed to someone making them appear that way. Still, Trent, as you say, it’s best to drop it, and it is counter productive. However, the question you ask should also apply to those that start it first with their own style of subtle insults?

    Posted by: d.a.n at August 13, 2006 5:30 PM
    Comment #175341

    On the facts, d.a.n.’s argument has something of a basis. Technology is improving. I thank him for providing the examples as asked. We should not ignore this in the scheme of things, because the qualities of biometric identification can be and are useful.

    There are issues, though. I would preface this by saying that no technology is without issues, design limitations, and trade-offs. d.a.n. believes that things have advanced enough so that those are not so much of an issue.

    I believe three things: all technologies have weak spots. People are creative. And certain creative people who wish to gain access to things and places, will work to exploit those weaknesses.

    Can a biometric system tell the difference between the real thing and a fake? Spoofing biometrics and the idea of spoofing biometrics is nothing new.

    The Fingerprint spoof (taking prints off a glass or other surface and using that for recognition purposes) most certainly isn’t. Nor is it implausible. I believe the System d.a.n. speaks about even advertises it’s ability to analyze latent prints- prints left behind as patterns of oil on objects. Fingerprints on a glass for one

    There’s an entire movie, Gattaca, whose plot revolves around a hero who lives a double life as a “borrowed ladder”, a normal man using the biological samples from a genetically engineered individual to pass as one of the genetically engineered elite. The movie is quite detailed about all the deceptions that go into it.

    The questions are substantial. Can a Facial Recognition system tell the difference between a mask with somebody’s face imaged on it, and the real thing? Can a voice ID tell if its real or memorex? Can the fingerprint ID tell the difference between a plastic fascimile, (or even a gummi bear with a print on it!), and the real phalange? Will putting multiple Biometric ID mechanisms together work past this problem, or just encourage criminals to do multiple hacks at once? As long as it’s in a criminal or terrorist’s interest to get past security, these are more than quibbles, these are the points of engagement on the front line of the battle to keep America secure. Technology should have to meet high standards to be deployed to this front, and the standards should be even greater as the sensitivity of what they protect increases. If there is a non-biometric or hybrid system that can create greater security, and/or solve some of the problems of a purely biometric system. then we should go for that. We should not be restricted by dogma to a single approach. The enemies and offenders we oppose certainly won’t.

    The tragedy of the Bush administration, in many ways, is tied to it’s obsession with employing certain means they’ve considered unfairly surpressed or untried in the world. We should not repeat that tragedy by relying on security systems simply for the sake of conventional wisdom. We need to keep on our toes about any means we employ with security.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 13, 2006 7:34 PM
    Comment #175357

    d.a.n., actually, I directed that at you because you were the last to post. My comment before was a general observation that one of you needs to walk away. But, you know, I really don’t much care and shouldn’t have butted in anyway. Carry on.

    Posted by: Trent at August 13, 2006 9:30 PM
    Comment #175386
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: There are issues, though. I would preface this by saying that no technology is without issues, design limitations, and trade-offs. d.a.n. believes that things have advanced enough so that those are not so much of an issue.
    True, many metrics are not yet ready, but getting close. Some (such as DNA are a long ways off still). Did you know an IRIS is actually more unique than DNA? Even identical twins have different IRISes, but not DNA.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: I believe three things: all technologies have weak spots. People are creative. And certain creative people who wish to gain access to things and places, will work to exploit those weaknesses.
    Some will, no doubt. But, like war (or cold war), the name of the game is to stay ahead of them, always.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Can a biometric system tell the difference between the real thing and a fake? Spoofing biometrics and the idea of spoofing biometrics is nothing new.
    One metric may be easy to fake, but three or more metrics (e.g. iris & eye color, finger print & hand geometry, facial geometry & ear geometry, height & weight, and a password), and that starts to make it very, very difficult to trick. A lot of money is being poured into voice pattern recognition because several industries want it ASAP, because a lot of transactions occur over the telephone (e.g. a credit card purchase), and voice technology could cut down on that type of fraud significantly. Voice technology is not quite there, but is very promising and advancing quickly.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The Fingerprint spoof (taking prints off a glass or other surface and using that for recognition purposes) most certainly isn’t. Nor is it implausible. I believe the System d.a.n. speaks about even advertises it’s ability to analyze latent prints- prints left behind as patterns of oil on objects. Fingerprints on a glass for one.
    Well, again, one metric should not be relied up for important things. Also, temperature is an easy metric to add to discern between a fake or the real thing, but other metrics are more useful, and have observed several of these used successfullin in use in the work place (e.g. fingerprints and hand geometry).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: There’s an entire movie, Gattaca, whose plot revolves around a hero who lives a double life as a “borrowed ladder”, a normal man using the biological samples from a genetically engineered individual to pass as one of the genetically engineered elite. The movie is quite detailed about all the deceptions that go into it.
    Good movie. It’s one of my favorites in my DVD collection. However, that movie over-looked DNA, iris, retina, and several metrics that would be a dead give-away. But, it’s just a movie, and for the sake of entertainment, can be overlooked if not too egregious.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: The questions are substantial. Can a Facial Recognition system tell the difference between a mask with somebody’s face imaged on it, and the real thing?
    Yes, if temperature metrics are used also (thermography and vein geometry). It is not quite ready for commercial use yet, but very close. Most likely within the next few years.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Can a voice ID tell if its real or memorex?
    Yes, because a recording may not know what the voice system may ask for. That is, it may ask the person to say different things. It could vary. That would make it difficult to have a recording for every possibility. Also, such devices should not be allowed inside the station. Also, again, the system should not rely on only one metric.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Can the fingerprint ID tell the difference between a plastic fascimile, (or even a gummi bear with a print on it!), and the real phalange?
    Yes, if temperature and thermography is part of it. But, once again, one metric should not be relied upon.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: Will putting multiple Biometric ID mechanisms together work past this problem, or just encourage criminals to do multiple hacks at once?
    It will make it very difficult to fool. The stations could measure many different things, but only require three or more. If a finger print is used, the system might as well get a hand-print too. If a facial print is used, perhaps it should get an ear geometry print too? If an iris print is used, perhaps a retina print should be used too? Add a password to that, and it starts to get very difficult. The problem today is that it is far too easy to impersonate someone else, which is why identity theft is rampant (fastest growing crime in the U.S.).
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: As long as it’s in a criminal or terrorist’s interest to get past security, these are more than quibbles, these are the points of engagement on the front line of the battle to keep America secure. Technology should have to meet high standards to be deployed to this front, and the standards should be even greater as the sensitivity of what they protect increases.
    Absolutely. Some stations may require more metrics. While a voice-print and/or finger-print may be sufficient to make an online purchase for $50.00 , boarding an airline may require a finger-print & hand-geometry, facial-geometry, iris-scan, and a password. But, access to U.S. Top-Secret facility might require all that and more (e.g. iris, retina, finger-print & hand geometry, facial geometry and ear geometry, voice print, and a password). All of those could conceivably be verified within a few minutes.
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: If there is a non-biometric or hybrid system that can create greater security, and/or solve some of the problems of a purely biometric system. then we should go for that. We should not be restricted by dogma to a single approach. The enemies and offenders we oppose certainly won’t.
    Well, that would be passwords, and they are still quite useful, but not alone. Biometrics and passwords will make it very difficult. Right now, many people do online banking, and all that is required is an account number, and/or username, and a password. It is very effective, but sometimes passwords are guessed correctly, and that’s where biometric are useful.

    As for replicated databases, the system should be programmed to detect matching biometrics, because no two iris scans are identical, and no two people should ever have the same iris scan, finger-print, and voice-pattern, etc. That could take hours, but not as long as one may think because not every byte of each pattern must be searched. That is, if the 100 first bytes of each signature are different, there is no need to compare the remaining bytes. Duplicate searches will detect unauthorized insertions of someone else’s biometric data under a new name. The system should detect changes to existing records. That prevents hackers from changing their own, or another person’s records. Passwords should not be changed without verification of one or more biometrics. At this point in time, the database would contain 299 million records. Larger databases already exist. The system should detect insertions and deletions. With about 4 million births per year, there would be about 11,000 records added per day. There are about 2.5 million deaths per year (about 6900 deaths per day), but those records would not be deleted for quite some time, to prevent someone from trying to use the biometrics data of a dead person. But, those records would be marked to indicate “deceased”. The master database would be mirrored in several secure locations in different cities, and then it would be replicated to other secured sites. Data from replicated database can not move backwards (i.e. not back to the masters). Video surveillance at some stations could also enhance security and discourage abuse. I have developed a system that is not that vastly different, but much smaller in scale. It collects data from various sensors for a specific product and creates a new database record. In my case, the product changes, so the metrics change at different locations, and tne metrics are updated. That complication would not occur often in a nation-wide biometrics system (except when a person loses a limb, eye, etc.). The system allows real-time viewing of the product along its path through the factory. The product has its own metrics that are used to identify it and it’s location. This same sort of scenario plays out at thousands of factories across the planet, each day, and many of those are far more complex in many respects, since the metrics are constantly changing.

    At any rate, it is true that there is no perfect system, but there are better systems … better than what we have now, which allows rampant identity theft. While not all metrics are mature, some are, and more will be relatively soon, and others will continue to be developed since the human body potentially contains an near infinite number of metrics.

    Trent wrote: d.a.n, actually, I directed that at you because you were the last to post …
    No problem. After all, you are correct.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at August 14, 2006 12:19 AM
    Comment #175389

    d.a.n.-
    One suggestion I’ve heard is to combine non-biometric things like keycards, electronic tokens and other things with the biometric, in such a way that if the one ID set got compromised, you could issue a new one, and not have the total compromise that a loss of a biometric would constitute.

    It makes sense to go redundant on some of he biometrics. My sense is that may introduce problems of expense, complexity of the system, and other variables for manufacturers to work out. Training would become paramount with some of these devices, that or damn fine engineering on its ability to calibrate.

    Additionally, we should be careful about these biometrics, because as one person said, they’re no secret. You leave fingerprints all over the place, your face is always on display, with the same proportions, etc, etc. I think that such are the issues to consider. So what are your thoughts on other matters concerning counterterrorism?

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at August 14, 2006 12:40 AM
    Comment #175395
    Stephen Daugherty wrote: d.a.n.- One suggestion I’ve heard is to combine non-biometric things like keycards, electronic tokens and other things with the biometric, in such a way that if the one ID set got compromised, you could issue a new one, and not have the total compromise that a loss of a biometric would constitute.
    Yes, I think those things, which are sort of like passwords, are good but would be better with a few of the most reliable and least costly biometrics.
    It makes sense to go redundant on some of he biometrics. My sense is that may introduce problems of expense, complexity of the system, and other variables for manufacturers to work out. Training would become paramount with some of these devices, that or damn fine engineering on its ability to calibrate.
    Yes, cost is important. Higher security areas may have more expensive stations. You know, height, weight, and eye color are still very good biometrics too, but they are not used except on drivers’ licenses which are easy to falsify, and are not available in a distributed database system. Of course, weights can vary, but usually within limits. Height doesn’t change much until old age, and it decreases, and not too many people are going to have their legs broken (like on Gattaca) to change their heighth.
    Additionally, we should be careful about these biometrics, because as one person said, they’re no secret. You leave fingerprints all over the place, your face is always on display, with the same proportions, etc, etc. I think that such are the issues to consider.
    Yes, no doubt about it. Backup procedures are needed. Secondary methods should exits.
    So what are your thoughts on other matters concerning counterterrorism?
    A watchlist for air travel would be a good idea. Searching out terrorists is wise, rather than waiting for them to attack us again. Our wide open borders and ports bothers me. Marine shipping containers must appear attractive to terrorists. Airlines are still woefully unprotected. It would be a very simple matter to check luggage with an explosive that has a altitude switch or could be triggered by a cell phone from the ground. Airlines are also vulnerable to missiles. Perhaps they should have decoys and countermeasures (like military aircraft) and radar to detect incoming missiles? Iraq was a mistake, primarily because there was no significant WMD, and there were numerous blunders afterward. The best time to have left Iraq was immediately after finding Saddam Hussien. Civil war would have erupted, but we have that now to a degree. The spying on Americans does not impress me, and looks suspicious when the borders and ports are still wide open. Tens of billions are being wasted on pork-barrel, corporate welfare, and supposed research on homeland security, but there are few (if any) productive results. Osama Bin Laden is still running around loose, while we are bogged down in Iraq. For some strange reason, Bush cut an FBI funding request by 67% after 9/11. Much of all this has a lot to do with oil. If ever we had some decent leadership, we might not be in this predicament. And, our massive debt problem could be viewed as a security risk, if you consider our loss of options. I think we should hire the Brits to do our security, since they seem to be able to connect the dots.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at August 14, 2006 2:34 AM
    Comment #175438

    Ken Strong-

    I asked an honest question (granted it is buried below a million lines of biometrics debate), but you completely avoided it. I’m not even sure why you put my name on that “response” as it clearly didn’t address anything I said. Maybe you responded to the wrong person or something, but I’m still waiting…

    Posted by: Kevin23 at August 14, 2006 1:03 PM
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