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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Monday, February 12, 2007

    Biometric data and teaching your grandmother...

    I read with great concern the news that up to 3,500 schools use biometric software to record the data of approximately three quarters of a million children. It is I presumed, the thin end of the wedge, a practice that this government will encourage in their own interest, and another means of gathering personal information.

    Then I read the item on broken biometric passports in The Register. Apart from a mixture of alarm (that millions of people may get needlessly and interminably stopped at passport control - a service which apparently is destined to slow to a standstill - literally - as biometric data gets checked
    "Immigration Officers will, until September 2007, have to leave the front desk to undertake additional checks of the digital signature using the readers located in back offices.")
    and relief (that the system will never work), I was left with the thought that:

    ... if schools can manage it, perhaps government should consult with them about how it can be done!

    Of course (I suppose) the school system does not (yet?) involve some form of ID card or passport which stores the child's details, but at the very least, it must have solved the search and match issues! The Register reports:
    "we were told by our consultants that the use of current facial recognition technology with two dimensional images (as is the case for ePassports) is not sufficiently reliable to enable fully automated searches even in relatively small databases, and performance is known to decline as database size increases... current facial recognition software cannot be used to check new applications against the entire database of existing ePassport holders."
    It also beats me how a government that thinks knowing a criminal's e-mail address will be an effective means of controlling his/her e-activity (see my last post and Phil Bradley's longer post) can also see the need for biometric data! Surely all they need is your name?

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