In last week’s report on India’s demonetization disaster, I began to connect the dots between demonetization, the push for a cashless society, and the biometric identification schemes that will eventually tie everyone’s fingerprints, iris scans, and other identifying details to every transaction they ever make.
Well, that game of “connect the dots” just became even easier to play.
First, it was reported last week that a key panel advising the government on its implementation of the “digital payments ecosystem” (that is being pushed and funded by USAID ) is now recommending that India links its national biometric ID database directly to tax returns.
In a shocking article published Tuesday by the Verge, it was revealed the FBI has been quietly collecting hundreds of thousands of iris scans as part an experimental program referred to as the “FBI Iris Pilot.” Working together with local police departments, U.S. Border Patrol, and the Pentagon, the FBI has discreetly amassed 434,000 iris scans.
The surveillance technology, used primarily by airports and private security companies, was pitched in 2013 as a way to help police departments catch criminals in a safer and more efficient manner. At that point, the FBI already had 30,000 scans and was looking to coordinate with local and national agencies to develop a searchable database of scans taken by police departments across the nation. The iris scan, which can be taken from a distance and requires no physical contact, was to be taken upon arrest and submitted whether charges were pressed or not.
Last week, I highlighted a couple of articles to hammer home just how fast technology seems to be invading our every day lives, whether we like it or not. In case you missed them, I suggest taking a read now:
Today’s article related to iris scanners and their increased popularity on college campuses. Virginia Commonwealth University is the latest school to roll out these entirely unnecessary and creepy devices, following the lead of George Mason University and University of New Hampshire.
The Huffington Post covered the story recent, here are some excerpts:
– Iris Scanner Identifies a Person 40 Feet Away (Discovery, April 10, 2015)
– Schools scanned students’ irises without permission (RT, May 30, 2013):
Parents in Polk County, Florida are outraged after learning that students in area schools had their irises scanned as part of a new security program without obtaining proper permission.
Students at three facilities — an elementary school, a grade school and a high school — had their eyeballs scanned earlier this month as part of a ‘student safety’ pilot program being carried out by Stanley Convergent Security Solutions.
“It simply takes a picture of the iris, which is unique to every individual,” Rob Davis, the school board’s senior director of support services, wrote home to parents in a letter dated May 23. “With this program, we will be able to identify when and where a student gets on the bus, when they arrive at their school location, when and what bus the student boards and disembarks in the afternoon. This is an effort to further enhance the safety of our students. The EyeSwipe-Nano is an ideal replacement for the card based system since your child will not have to be responsible for carrying an identification card,” he added.
Mexico will on Monday become the first country to start using iris scans for identity cards, according to the government.
The documents, which will include the eye’s image as well as fingerprints, a photo and signature, will be 99 per cent reliable, according to Felipe Zamora, who is responsible for legal affairs at the Mexican interior ministry.
“The legal, technical and financial conditions are ready to start the process of issuing this identity document,” Felipe Zamora, responsible for legal affairs at the Mexican Interior Ministry, told journalists Thursday.
Critics, including the National Human Rights Commission, have criticised the system, expressing concern that compiling personal data could violate individual rights.
The move will be introduced gradually, with some 28 million minors taking part in a first two-year stage, due to cost $25 million (£15.6 million).
Passengers will have their eyes scanned as soon as they check in as part of a new trial a major UK airport.
High-tech machines that can recognise an individual’s iris as they walk around will be installed at Manchester Airport at check in during the government-backed pilot.
The technology has the potential to overhaul security and customs, with airport bosses hoping it could help in the fight against terrorism.
Passengers who agree to take part will have their iris scanned at check in and it will then be used to identify them as they enter the security search area when it is scanned again.
Volunteers for the scheme are asked to walk through a demonstration scanner, at the end of a 5 metre-long walkway, at a normal pace.
Welcome 1984! Welcome the New World Order! Welcome slavery!
We’ve all seen and obsessively referenced Minority Report, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s dystopian future, where the public is tracked everywhere they go, from shopping malls to work to mass transit to the privacy of their own homes. The technology is here. I’ve seen it myself. It’s seen me, too, and scanned my irises.
Biometrics R&D firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI) announced today that it is rolling out its iris scanning technology to create what it calls “the most secure city in the world.” In a partnership with Leon — one of the largest cities in Mexico, with a population of more than a million — GRI will fill the city with eye-scanners. That will help law enforcement revolutionize the way we live — not to mention marketers.
“In the future, whether it’s entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris,” says Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers. Before coming to GRI, Carter headed a think tank partnership between Bank of America, Harvard, and MIT. “Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years,” he says.
Leon is the first step. To implement the system, the city is creating a database of irises. Criminals will automatically be enrolled, their irises scanned once convicted. Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in.
When these residents catch a train or bus, or take out money from an ATM, they will scan their irises, rather than swiping a metro or bank card. Police officers will monitor these scans and track the movements of watch-listed individuals. “Fraud, which is a $50 billion problem, will be completely eradicated,” says Carter. Not even the “dead eyeballs” seen in Minority Report could trick the system, he says. “If you’ve been convicted of a crime, in essence, this will act as a digital scarlet letter. If you’re a known shoplifter, for example, you won’t be able to go into a store without being flagged. For others, boarding a plane will be impossible.”
GRI’s scanning devices are currently shipping to the city, where integration will begin with law enforcement facilities, security check-points, police stations, and detention areas. This first phase will cost less than $5 million. Phase II, which will roll out in the next three years, will focus more on commercial enterprises. Scanners will be placed in mass transit, medical centers and banks, among other public and private locations.