Friday, December 29, 2006

1984 All Over Again?

The collection of children's individual iris scans into a data base (as in this Texas story) is bound to make many uncomfortable as this use of technology catches on around the country:
GALVESTON — Technology developed to keep track of prisoners by scanning their irises became available Thursday to identify missing children or elderly people afflicted with Alzheimer's disease in Galveston County.

The Galveston County Sheriff's Department is the first sheriff's department in Texas and the 47th nationwide to join the Children's Identification Database, or CHILD Project.

The addition of Galveston County is part of an effort to image the irises of 5 million children into a nationwide database over the next few years, said Robert Melley, vice president and CEO of Biometric Intelligence & Identification.

"We have 1,800 sheriff's departments representing 46 states who have committed to participating," Melley said.

So far, the CHILD Project is in 26 states after more than 18 months, said Biometric President Sean Mullin. Children with an iris scan in the national database cannot be identified unless they are in a county that has the CHILD Project equipment, he said.

The system can scan an eye and match an iris in 3 to 5 seconds after comparing it with stored images in a national database, Mullin said.

Mullin and Galveston County Sheriff Gean Leonard appeared together at a news conference at the Galveston County Justice Center to explain how the technology will assist in identifying missing children.

"We hope others will follow our lead in Texas," Leonard said in announcing the department's participation.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that, on average, more than 2,000 children are reported missing every day across the nation.

Leonard said he hopes eventually to scan the irises of all 71,000 in the county. He hoped that groups such as parent-teacher organizations, churches and senior care centers would invite his officers to events where scans can be made.

To be scanned, a child sits in front of a portable scanner. The portable system is in a black plastic box about the size of a briefcase. When opened, a spherical camera sits on top of the lid and a second camera with a wide, horizontal lens pops up to eye level.
Read the whole thing.

What's coming next? Tamper-resistant national I.D. Cards?

Heh. I don't think that we have to worry much about that. A soundly-engineered national I.D. card would actually help curb the invasion inflow of illegal immigrants who continue to take advantage of our helplessness invite themselves into this country.

And politicians from both the left and right side of the political spectrum don't want to actually do anything about that. There's just too much money to be made with things just the way they are...
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