James Bond technology
Technology is great -– some of it actually makes life easier
to live. In a consumer world it's all about products and services which take
the work out of life -– providing more convenience, ease of use and cutting
down on effort. Yes, it all adds up to greater value and more fun. Or does it?
There are grey areas. Our technology can potentially backfire
on us and create more headaches than our imaginations can cope with. Access to
personal information and data can be used to control and manipulate us - which
is probably our greatest threat. But following the scare of 9/11, the prevailing
attitude is 'who cares' as we jump into security mode boots and all.
Perhaps if we didn't have the ancient prophecies from the Word of God, we
could proceed into the modern techno-age without concern or caution.
The Dominion Post, 15 August 2002, ...even (James) Bond
is being overtaken by the latest in high-security gizmos, which includes iris
recognition instead of iris scanning -– the system Bond used -– as the
The difference between the two is that the scan requires the
subject to stand still and allow a laser beam to check the iris, whereas iris
recognition is just like getting a photo taken.
Already used widely in the United States and used
increasingly in Europe and Australia, iris recognition had been tested in New
It works like this: A photo of an iris is taken by an "enrolment"
camera. This image is transformed to algorithms (a arithmetical notation used to
store digital information) and held in a database.
When someone walks to the front door where they work, a
camera takes a snap of their iris and, if it matches the database, they are
This procedure will continue as subjects move through secure
areas. At their computer, they will be snapped again, and if the iris matches,
the computer will start. There is no need for logging on or passwords.
Iris recognition is a leader among biometric techniques
(verifying identity using unique body features) -– that have been in hot demand
since the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Biometric technologies include identification through
fingerprints, hand geometry (shape of the palm), facial recognition, iris
scanning and the leading edge is iris recognition.
American experts believe fingerprint scans and voice
recognition systems will be common in the US by the end of 2003...
...President George Bush passed the Enhanced Border Security
Act into American law on May 14. In a US$3.2 billion (NZ$5.9 billion) upgrade,
all US passports and visas will include biometrics by April 2003 and biometric
readers will be in place at all entry points -– land, sea and air...
In New Zealand, technology firm MI5 is at the forefront of
MI5 chief information officer Helen Fisk says... "In terms
of security, iris recognition is number one, with finger printing the next best,
followed by facial, hand and voice recognition."...
"If you were setting up a new building, the installation of
iris recognition technology would be about 20 per cent more expensive than, say,
a swipe card system," she says.
"But in the long-term, it would work out cheaper as there
would be no replacement card costs... it's pretty hard to lose your iris..."...
"Even surgically it is extremely hard to change your iris,
though I guess it could be done... with great difficulty," Ms Fisk says.
Those readers who recall Barry Smith's teaching with regard
to the transition from a cash based economy to a 'cashless economy', which
utilises a 'mark on your right hand or forehead for buying and selling' will
remember his rather humorous rationale for widespread acceptance of the new more
convenient system: "You can not lose your head. You cannot break your head, or
have it wiped in the washing machine. Your head cannot be duplicated, not even
in Hong Kong and you cannot have your head stolen. Even if someone did steal
your head, as soon as they put it over the shop counter the shop keeper would
know right away 'That's not yours...'."
So, the introduction of this new technology will bring about
a major reduction in fraud.
Newsweek, 13 May 2002, "Playing the ID Card -–
... Identity theft has become the leading source of consumer
fraud, with an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 victims a year. Social Security
numbers have been auctioned on eBay, and typing "fake ID" into an Internet
search engine yields dozens of offshore operations promising
holographic-equipped "novelty souvenir" cards that look scandalously like
the real things.
No wonder that surveys taken last fall indicated that more
than two thirds of the public declared themselves in favour of a national ID
Imagine a world without credit card or ID fraud. Sounds great
-– so what's the problem? Civil liberties groups in Britain are getting very
anxious over 'developments' to legislation, governing the use (or misuse) of
information about private citizens.
"March of Big Brother -–
Daily Mail, 12 June 2002, Do you trust Britain's
bureaucrats? Not just those in the security services, or the police, or the
higher echelons of the Civil Service, but all the little busybodies in your
local council office?
If you do not, then beware. If the Government gets its way,
as of next week they will have access to an astonishing amount of information
about our electronic lives.
They can demand from your telephone company or Internet
service provider details of all your calls, where you were when you made a
mobile phone call, who sent you emails and even which websites you visited.
When the legislation was originally passed to make this
possible two years ago, ministers promised that it would apply only to the
police, customs, secret services and the taxman.
That was bad enough. But now they have added seven government
departments, every local authority, the Environment Agency, the Food Standards
Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, and even the Post Office..."
Long distance scanning...
Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, 6 June 2002, "Spying eye
leads the fight against crime -–
A hi-tech Chippenham company is in the front line fighting
street crime with a revolutionary new surveillance system...The new system holds
a record of the faces of fugitives and criminal suspects and can pick them out
from a crowd.
Drug dealers, football hooligans and other police suspects on
a police database can be identified on camera -– so CCTV operators can then
alert the police...Once a suspect is recognised by the facial biometric
software, the staff contact the police on a dedicated hotline, so they can
investigate or apprehend the individual.
"Facial biometrics is a very exciting tool in the fight
against crime," said Drew Paterson, digital security marketing manager...
The ground-breaking surveillance system was first conceived
18 months ago, and it was developed by a three-strong team... in the Chippenham
office...The system scans a camera image for a face -– seeking an oval shape
and then pinpointing the eyes. Then the software identifies up to 27 points on
the top half of the face to create a personal map for every individual. Because
it maps the eye region the map is unaffected by changes in age, facial hair, or
Hackers aim to beat the censors
There are always those who refuse to be 'controlled'
as seen in the following article from the Dominion Post 16/7/2002. Having the
ability to 'hide communications' online has many pros and cons as the
age-old game of cat and mouse continues.
"Some of the worlds best-known hackers have unveiled a plan
to offer free software to promote anonymous web surfing in countries where the
Internet is censored, especially China and Middle Eastern Nations.
An international hacker group calling itself Hactivsmo
released a programme on Sunday called Camera/Shy that allows Internet users to
conceal messages posted inside photos posted on the web, bypassing most known
Police monitoring methods.
In addition "Mixer a prominent German hacker said Hactivsmo
was preparing to launch technology which if adopted widely, could allow anyone
to create anonymous networks where users world-wide could access and share
information without being traced.
"Its important for anyone, whether they live in a
totalitarian country or a Western country to be anonymous" said Mixer.
The effort will succeed only if millions of users begin using
the programmes as part of their everyday Internet use, providing cover to
The move is likely to heat up the battle between free speech
activists and Government censors in the 20 or so countries that restrict public
access to the web. It may also raise concerns among the police agencies which
fear the technology could be used by criminals, paedophiles or terrorists."
007 would have been right at home in these technologically
active times -– but then again, even he might not take too kindly to having a
situation where he couldn't just 'turn it off' after a couple of hours...