Who Knows?

Biometric expert shows an easy way to spoof fingerprint scanning devices

Any technology can be hacked. That doesn’t mean it can be hacked by anyone. It just means that every technology performs a social purpose, and that social purpose exposes its weakness. It is not so important to know the specific ways to use or misuse a technology, as it is to realize that the technology is not autonomous, it is not superhuman, it is not magical, it is not perfect: it is designed to serve a human purpose.

Visit some humans who design and use biometrics technology at http://www.biometrics.dod.mil/ or in person at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division (CJIS) in West Virginia. Don’t bother to introduce yourself; they already know who you are. In fact, they already know you are reading this, so don’t bother calling ahead.

UPDATE (12/16/05)

I was just teasing y’all above, but the NSA is serious about these things. From the New York Times, here is a copyright-friendly excerpt:

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Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 – Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible “dirty numbers” linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval was a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

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