Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh the possibilities...

Dan Brawner seems to have his finger(print) on the pulse here -

LIVING IN IOWA: Forget your signature: soon the biometric thumbprint will be the new national ID

by Dan Brawner · February 06, 2008

I’m sure the Iowa Department of Education only wanted what’s best for us when they proposed the “thumbprint bill” that would have students use a biometric thumbprint scan in paying for school lunches and checking out library books. They assure us the thumbprints will not be stored or shared with government agencies or businesses. They argue convincingly that students will have to spend less time standing in lines and the new technology will keep them safer by tracking their whereabouts.

I can understand why a sophomore in his desperation to check out a copy of War And Peace does not have time to laboriously sign his name for the librarian. But after all, attendance in an institution of higher education does presuppose a certain degree of literacy. If they make it too easy to sign a document, you discover later you’ve sold Manhattan for a handful of beads.

If the thumbprint thing catches on in schools, pretty soon Mastercard will say, why carry around those silly plastic cards that could fall into the wrong hands when all you need to do at the checkout counter is plant your thumb on the scanner? Now you can buy stuff faster than ever!

Before long, the Department of Motor Vehicles will want to get into the act. Then doctors and hospitals will have patients zipping through check-in, dispensing with all that tiresome paperwork. All you will ever need is your thumb. You won’t even have to be conscious. Heck, you won’t even have to be there. Just your thumb. Parents could have detachable thumbs. “Hey, Dad, I’m driving into Chicago today. Can I borrow the thumb?” “Okay, son. Just have it back by midnight.”

Our entire identity will be defined by our thumbs. Our thumbs will represent our legal status, our financial stature, our health, our political leanings, our religious affiliations, our intrinsic worth as neighbors and citizens. Our very soul.

We will no longer be able take our thumbs for granted. We’ll have to take special care of them. If you get a scar on your thumb from peeling potatoes, it might alter your identity. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. We cannot allow you to pick up the boy you say is your son from baseball practice. According to your thumbprint, it says you are a 78-year-old Tibetan man who had his license revoked for running over a goat.”

With all our personal information stored with our thumbprint, identity theft can be surprisingly easy. Investigators found that thumbprints leave a mark on the scanner and can be made to reappear by merely breathing on the glass. We can no longer afford to expose our naked thumbs to strangers who might photograph them or lift our prints from doorknobs. We’ll have to wear special thumb lingerie to hide our most intimate secrets from prying eyes.

Sure, it will take some adjustment. But sailing through the checkout line at Wal-Mart will make it all worthwhile.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Don't forget the RFID "truancy programs". Your thumbprint ID card can come with some nifty spychips to help determine when your child is on a bus, when he is late for class, or when he is in the bathroom.