Sunday, May 08, 2005

HB 2337: No warrant for police to get personal biometric computer passwords

Just as Microsoft and other technology vendors move wholesale toward biometric passwords for personal and business computers, legislation near passage in the Texas House of Representatives would gather the two password biometrics most commonly used into a database of 13.5 million Texas drivers, and allow law enforcement to access the information without a warrant in any criminal investigation.

Talk about unintended consequences! Well, maybe it's intended by

Presently, two types of biometrics are commonly used for personal computer passwords:
fingerprints and facial recognition. For some time now DPS has gathered both thumbprints (or fingerprints where that's not possible) on all Texas drivers, and in recent years has begun to maintain that data digitally. Now they'll add facial recognition measurements from their photo database to the mix. (You don't suppose anybody would want to steal that information, do you? Identity theft, anyone?)

Never forget that, to your computer, your fingerprint, facial image or iris scan isn't connected to you - it's just data, a bunch of ones and zeroes cycling through the computer system. If it's stolen, you can never get it back, nor can you change your fingerprints or your facial structure. Emerging technologies utilizing biometric computer passwords create new, invasive uses for old data like fingerprints and digitized images that, if HB 2337 should become law, could henceforth be accessed by police without a warrant.

UPDATE: HB 2337 passed the Texas House on Monday, May 9, on an unremarked voice vote.

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