The trade off -– privacy for security
The industry of crime
Australian department store David Jones claims to have saved
A$9 million dollars in one year, and will be prosecuting around 200 staff caught
in an 'employee fraud crackdown'. The long arm of the law has been able to
nab these in-store criminals red-handed with the use of cutting edge software
technology called Netmap. The new system takes data directly from cash
registers, and analyses abnormal entries -– the most likely clues to potential
New Zealand's largest retailers, The Warehouse and Farmers
are among those running trials of the Netmap software in NZ.
Meanwhile in Wellington, New Zealand, some clever criminals
are employing initiative and technology in their activities. A devise was
discovered (able to be purchased off the internet apparently) which looks
similar to the ATM swipe devises which give customers access to indoor ATM
lobbies. One of these units was discovered in Wellington, positioned next to the
legitimate swipe machines on the security doors. Unsuspecting customers follow
their usual procedure, except their cards vital-data is copied without them even
knowing. The data is then transferred later via computer to blank cards and used
to extract funds from people's accounts. As criminals become more
sophisticated, and endued with modern technology, society demands for greater
security increase "We know we're trading privacy for security -– but we're
prepared to do this!"
From Applied Digital Solutions Website: "...today
announced the launch of a national "Get Chipped" promotion for
VeriChip, a subdermal personal verification microchip. The first 100,000
registrants and all qualified ADSX shareholders will be eligible for a special
introductory savings of $50 at the time of "chipping...
In the financial arena, the Company sees enormous, untapped
potential for VeriChip as a personal verification technology that could help
to prevent fraudulent access to banking (especially via ATMs) and credit
card accounts. VeriChip's tamper-proof, personal verification technology
would provide banking and credit card customers with the added protection of
knowing their accounts could not be accessed unless they themselves initiated --
and were physically present during -- the transaction. One of the most
promising areas being explored relates to identity theft protection. Crime
statistics show that identity theft claims hundreds of thousands of victims
every year. VeriChip offers a simple solution: a tamper-proof, personal
verification technology that will deter identity theft by making it virtually
impossible for criminal elements to access someone else's financial accounts and
Tracking cars...and people
NZ developers Navman, have come up with a global satellite
tracking system for automobiles -– enabling drivers access to roadmaps and
directions as required. It will automatically zoom in on road maps, indicate
turns and exits ahead of time to assist the user to get from A to B without too
much hassle. (Ed's note: I could certainly use one of these! Keep in mind
however that to carry a GPS is a two way deal - your vehicle can also be 'tracked'
wherever you care to travel).
While on the subject of automobiles, a clever bit of
innovation from Michelin tyres, who have developed 'embeded wireless
technology' for a new line of tyres, which will transmit tyre pressure to
dashboard computers. How good.
Customs and immigration
Australia has launched the world's first automated passport
checks system, utilising facial recognition technology. Smartgate kiosks replace
manual passport checks by friendly Sydney customs officers. Computers scan the
passengers face and check the image against the passport -– the way of the
In NZ, "Superbank" will be underway before the end of
March. The joint venture of supermarket group Foodstuffs (who operate PakNSave,
New World, Rite Price and Foursquare stores) and St George bank is being
developed as a 'genuine alternative to traditional banks'. Supermarket
banking ventures in the UK have been very successful to date.
Many commentators have utilised George Orwell's 'Big
Brother' concept to describe the Global ID (and other info) database
network system. Of course, now under the banner of keeping an eye on terrorist
activity for security purposes, momentum toward the establishment of such a
system has increased ten fold as people cry 'give us peace and safety'.
What about privacy issues?
An interesting article in the NZ Herald 1-2.02.03 asks -–
'who will watch the watchers?' "More than all-seeing, the battery of
computer scanners the US wants to assemble will be all-knowing. Use your credit
card at the nursery, and the transaction will be noted. Buy a book, plan a
vacation or log on to the website of your local church to read the latest
sermon, and all that information will be collected and distilled."(ed's
note: You can even read the Omega Times online: www.omegatimes.com)
"Because the internet is global, national boundaries will
matter hardly at all. Buy something in Auckland, Adelaide or Akron and the
record of that transaction will be there, somewhere on the web, ready to be
evaluated by official eyes.
If you are a rose fancying-catholic who purchases a beach
book to occupy the idle hours of a Fiji vacation, what the Pentagon has in mind
will be of little consequence. But if you regularly visit the Jihad Now! website
and buy a bag of nitrogen fertiliser after laying out an online itinerary to
visit Mecca, it might be a good idea to sleep in pyjamas. That will minimise the
embarrassment of being dragged from bed when the TIA's omniscient computers
conclude that you are an Islamic fundamentalist assembling the ingredients for a
Timothy McVeigh-styled bomb. The technology already exists. What the Whitehouse
proposes is a relatively inexpensive plan to hard-wire all the databases so that
every computerised record can be scanned with a thoroughness that puts Orwell's
bleak vision to shame..."
William Brinn, one of America's most idiosyncratic privacy
crusaders is quoted later in the same article "The current fuss concerns the
ease with which the elites, the agents of governments' security apparatus in
this case, can gain access -– not the access itself. The information about
every one of us is already there, so this is an abstract artificial debate about
the formality of getting a search warrant..."
If you are internet capable, have a look at the Information
Awareness Office webpage at http://www.darpa.mil/iao/ . In particular, take
note of their logo, with the infamous eye in the triangle above the pyramid!