How soon in the future will fingerprint and eye scans become a reality for everyday people? This measurement and analysis of unique physical or behavioral characteristics, is defined as biometrics.1 For some, it is already the everyday norm. There are workplaces in the US that require their employees to login or clock in to work using proprietary software utilizing biometric technology.
Since the acts of terrorism on September 11, 2001, the US government has been a strong advocate of biometrics. The Department of Homeland Security and DARPA have been funded to research facial recognition systems. The Information Processing Technology Office has a program that is capable of identifying a person up to 500 ft. away by just their facial features alone.2
The FBI is also instrumental in collecting fingerprints, mug shots, and pictures of scars and tattoos. This biometric data is stored underground in the Clarksburg facility estimated to cost $1 billion and is about the size of a football field, 30 feet underground.4
All US Service personnel and contractors on US Military sites are issued an ID card, that contains biometric data and digitized photographs. Future security precautions taken on these ID cards include laser-etched photographs and holograms, to reduce any risk of fraud.2
As demands in security increase, so has the use of biometric identification to prevent terrorism abroad. The European Union has even agreed upon the consensus that all new passports include the fingerprint of the individual, to prevent falsification and fraud among incoming tourists.3
Even US soldiers in the country of Afghanistan are able to use biometric technology. The US army now has information on 800,000 people scanned into their database, while the country’s interior database has records on 250,000 people.5 This tool has been helpful in the US developing a strategy to separate innocent people of the population from the insurgent terrorists fighting in the war. This is a big jump in technology since the Vietnam War when the local villagers were fenced off from the Viet Cong by physical means. The biometric approach was also used to keep insurgents out of protected neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iran.5
Biometric technology was once known as the future of security, but it is now becoming a reality at home in the US, as well as in the rest of the world. It may be a matter of time before it is a part of your everyday life.
1Definition of biometrics. Merriam-Webster.com.
3Biometric passports. European Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
4Kelly Arena and Carol Cratty. FBI wants palm prints, eye scans, tattoo mapping. CNN.
5Jon Boone. US army amasses biometric data in Afghanistan. Guardian.co.uk.