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Germany Begins Iris Scans at Frankfurt Airport 322

securitas writes "Deutsche Welle reports that at Germany's Frankfurt airport biometric iris scans of airline passengers have begun. The German government says that the six-month pilot project is part of Europe's 18-country Automated and Biometrics-based Border Checks initiative to improve 'border control routines' and domestic security, with a full-scale system to follow. The system uses an iris scan embedded in a passenger's machine-readable passport, which is compared to the passenger's iris with an onsite scan. Travelers must 'sign a data security document' and agree to be checked by border guards. The article also references the capability of an iris scan to determine drug and alcohol consumption. The European Parliament is considering replacing all of its traditional passports with a new European biometric passport by 2005. The IRISPASS system (press release) was built by Byometric systems, Iridian and Oki Electric Industry. More coverage at CNet/ZDNet, AP/USA Today and mirrors at AJC, and CNN."
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Germany Begins Iris Scans at Frankfurt Airport

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  • Iris changes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:32PM (#8344691) Homepage Journal
    greasy, dirty or peeling skin on the finger can easily distort fingerprint-recognition, a factor that plays no role in the case of iris-recognition.

    So, does this mean that folks with melanomas of the iris, cataracts, macular degeneration (which is common and can manifest initially through pigment changes in the iris), etc... will have to go through a bigger hassle than the other passengers when traveling?

    Also, since the iris does change throughout life, I would guess that one would have to renew their iris scan on their passport from time to time.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:39PM (#8344781)
      well think of it as free govt. sponsored testing that could lead to early warning signs of serious eye problems ..... or not
    • Re:Iris changes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      6 months is too short a time frame to achieve anything. I am guessing it would probably take more than 6 months to get some percentage of Europe to use this. What about travellers from other countries. How can you keep your borders safe when people from other countries can come in without their IRIS scans on their passports.
    • Iris changes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FlyingOrca ( 747207 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:42PM (#8344824) Journal
      I would think the scan will have to be renewed on a fairly regular basis.

      Still, this leaves me wondering. We hear a lot of negative stuff about universal ID cards of one stripe or another (I won't go so far as to call it FUD, it may be quite reasonable). Most of the cautions expressed seem to revolve around duplication / forgery by criminals etc.

      Anyone have any info on how hard it would be to fool an iris (or retina) scanner? Might be a good substitute for universal IDs. I mean, the ostensible principles of univeral IDs aren't all bad...
      • "Anyone have any info on how hard it would be to fool an iris (or retina) scanner?"

        Print an image onto a contact lens?
      • Re:Iris changes (Score:5, Insightful)

        by furiousgeorge ( 30912 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:06PM (#8345079)
        >>Anyone have any info on how hard it
        >>would be to fool an iris (or retina) scanner?

        You don't have to fool the scanner. According to the article the iris print is stored on a card/passport that you present. So all you have to do is forge the source.

        If they were looking up your iris in a master database that would be a different issue.

        • Forge the source (Score:2, Insightful)

          by FlyingOrca ( 747207 )
          Hmm... sounds like a job for strong encryption. I was thinking more of a database, though... and the security issues there are frightening. Hell, just the *stupidity* issues there are frightening!
        • Re:Iris changes (Score:3, Informative)

          by deadbadger ( 711583 )

          This isn't quite right - while the passport is scanned, this isn't for iris data, merely to ascertain who you claim to be. The iris code corresponding to this identity is then retrieved from a central database and compared with the results obtained by the security terminal. From the press release:

          "First, passport data is captured by a passport scanner and checked against a database. The iris recognition system then identifies the individual's iris to verify a match between the individual and the legal

      • Re:Iris changes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by deadbadger ( 711583 )

        Once you've got a decent image of the iris, these systems are really rather good. This one in particular uses algorithms developed by John Daugman from the Computing Lab at Cambridge, who claims all-but-perfect results for his algorithms. While he's chosen to commercially exploit his work rather than make it widely available (as well he might), his basic techniques have been re-implemented by other researchers who've obtained similarly astounding results. The list of results from his webpage is really qu

    • Re:Iris changes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erick99 ( 743982 ) * <> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:43PM (#8344832)
      From an interview that can be found on CNN's site:

      Rick Lockridge: Illness and aging cause changes to your eyes, but the iris never changes from the eighth month of gestation until death. That's why EyeTicket and others feel iris-recognition technology is superior to thumbprint recognition and other competitors.

      Happy Trails!


      • by kolbeinn ( 101301 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:53PM (#8344956)
        but the iris never changes from the eighth month of gestation until death.

        So, does this mean that folks suffering from death (which is common and can manifest initially through pigment changes in the iris), etc... will have to go through a bigger hassle than the other passengers when traveling?
        • but the iris never changes from the eighth month of gestation until death.

          So, does this mean that folks suffering from death (which is common and can manifest initially through pigment changes in the iris), etc... will have to go through a bigger hassle than the other passengers when traveling?

          While it shouldn't be a problem for the dead guy (he has a bigger problem than getting past airport security), it could be a problem if you gouge out [] someone else's eye to try to get past a scan.

        • Nah, you can just check them in the cargo hold.
      • Re:Iris changes (Score:4, Informative)

        by Greedo ( 304385 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:56PM (#8344989) Homepage Journal
        Babies eyes don't settle down to their final colour until sometime bewteen 6 and 12 months (source [], another []).

        So, their irises do change, certainly in colour. There aren't many 6-12 month-old terrorists running around, so maybe that's not an issue. But what Lockridge said is clearly wrong.
      • Re:Iris changes (Score:5, Informative)

        by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:05PM (#8345069) Homepage Journal
        but the iris never changes from the eighth month of gestation until death.

        This is absolutely wrong. Especially with pathological changes.

        And yes, I am a vision scientist.

    • Re:Iris changes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by diablobynight ( 646304 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:55PM (#8344982) Journal
      If all the machine does is make sure that your IRIS, matches the Iris on your card you hand them, than isn't still going to be fakeable, because the control element is based on the idea that your passport is right about what that persons Iris is supposed to be?

      I submit this idea, does it even matter? How many terrorist acts are commited by people who snuck, 9-11 was commited by people who came into the US legally

    • Re:Iris changes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by orangesquid ( 79734 ) <{orangesquid} {at} {}> on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:00PM (#8345034) Homepage Journal
      I'm also curious about the ability to detect "drug and alcohol consumption." Is this done by checking iris/pupil characteristics?

      And, drugs---you mean like antidepressants and anxiolytics, both of which are wont to induce mydriasis?

      "I'm sorry, sir. Dilation says can't let you on the plane. You're either on speed, or you're on happy pills, and either way, we don't want you."

      If there are other detectable characteristics in the iris area besides pupil dilatation, I'd love to know. Any ocular pharmacology researchers out there?
  • Minority Report (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Metallic Matty ( 579124 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:32PM (#8344698)
    I fear a bleak future run along the lines of Minority Report's eye scanning. Honestly, this technology is scary.
    • by chimpo13 ( 471212 ) <> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:33PM (#8344713) Homepage Journal
      I'd start checking ebay for tinfoil lenses then.
    • by funny-jack ( 741994 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:35PM (#8344730) Homepage
      Honestly, this technology is scary.

      I think that has probably been said by someone about pretty much every technology we use today. It isn't the technology that's scary, it's what people might do with it. Almost every new technology has the potential for good, as well as evil.
      • by Metallic Matty ( 579124 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:41PM (#8344802)
        I think that has probably been said by someone about pretty much every technology we use today. It isn't the technology that's scary, it's what people might do with it. Almost every new technology has the potential for good, as well as evil.

        I completely agree. But with a congress passing legislation like the Patriot Act, I believe the potential for evil is reasonably feared.
        • And whether or not I agree with you, that is a reasonable opinion. But since you stated a concern with the technology, not the people who would use it (or legislate its use), I felt it necessary to point out the general neutrality of most technology.

          Of course, being that this is Slashdot, I can understand making a comment as quickly as possible (and thus not clarifying one's opinion) in order to try and make first post. I'll even admit to having done it before myself. :^|
    • Re:Minority Report (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:09PM (#8345105) Homepage Journal
      "I fear a bleak future run along the lines of Minority Report's eye scanning. Honestly, this technology is scary."

      I don't. Hollywood's been predicting that the world will rot for decades. Instead, it slowly gets better and better.

      Technology can be dangerous if it is absorbed too quickly. There's no time for thought and adjustment. However, we have a very big population, and that means technology is very slow to be adopted, and by then proper precautions are usually taken.

      It's also worth noting that nearly everything people imagine happening that would be real 'bad' has large problems with practicality. The benefit has to outweigh the practicality, and nearly everything that people are afraid of fails that test in one form or another. Somebody told me once that they were afraid that if electronic identification got too out of control, the gov't would watch what everybody's doing. You could get stopped from boarding an airplane because you were at a Muslim church earlier that day. (Note: That's what he told me, that's not my own idea there.) Everybody worries that it'll be the case, but nobody thinks abou twhat it'd take to do that. Besides requiring a massive computer network and central data archive to store all this information, a computer has to go in and do the analysis on it. Hello?! There are 300 million people in this country. We're a long ways away from having that data available. Then there's the whole matter of false positives. Make it too sensitive, and you'll have a lot of people chasing false leads indefinitely. The only way it would practically work is if it looked for VERY strong stuff. Even then, you still have to have a human review it and make a judgement call. The United States Gov't would have to front a LOT of expense and co-ordinate a massive effort to do what people are afraid of, and the benefit is... What? Total control? Our gov't isn't after that. It's too hard to acquire, too hard to maintain. On top of all that, even those in power find themselves in a not so lovely position. I'm sure Mr. Adolf had a terrible time knowing who his friends were.

      It's not that I'm trying to be dismissive here, I'm just not sold on the idea that it's all that scary. I am quite happy to support the right checks and balances, however. If we were talking about electronic law enforcement (as opposed to electronic flagging, which is what this technology is about) you'd be having an entirely different conversation with me.
      • Re:Minority Report (Score:4, Insightful)

        by cindy ( 19345 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:42PM (#8345415)
        "Hollywood's been predicting that the world will rot for decades. Instead, it slowly gets better and better."

        Can I come and live in your world? ...please?
      • Hello?! There are 300 million people in this country. We're a long ways away from having that data available.

        300 million people isn't a big deal to a computer. Think of it like this: You can hold a lot of details about a person's life within a single megabyte of text. Try printing a whole megabyte of raw text and you'll see that's quite a dosier. (*note, do note use the bloated MS Word format where "hello world" takes up 128K) Using 1MB per person, that comes to a mere 300 gigabytes of data. Hell, Google

  • by Eradicator2k3 ( 670371 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:34PM (#8344723)
    ...who is this "Iris?" Was she clothed when she was scanned and, most importantly is she seeing anyone?
  • *Gets to work on iris creation and replacement machine* *Puts away fake (novel) ID machine*
  • by pzycho ( 745634 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:36PM (#8344745)
    At least they aren't Frankfurt scanning.
  • by plams ( 744927 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:38PM (#8344772) Homepage
    My dad always thought that the best security meassure for these iris scans would be some sort of icepick-like tip that pokes you hard in the eye if the scan fails.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My tin foil contact lenses will put a stop to that nonsense.
  • ...I blame Ashcroft.

  • Hm. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrEd ( 60684 ) <> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:40PM (#8344801)
    The system uses an iris scan embedded in a passenger's machine-readable passport, which is compared to the passenger's iris with an onsite scan.

    So you get a passport made with a fake iris scan, just like you would get one with a fake photo.

    Or would it cryptographically check with a central office to make sure the passport iris scan is the same one you got when you applied for the passport? Whole other can of worms...

    • Re:Hm. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      actually the iris scan is not embedded in the machine readable passport. (such passports do not exist in the EU (yet)..). instead the iris scan is stored in a database linked to a machine readable passport.
      passport number and iris scan don't match --> access denied
    • Or would it cryptographically check with a central office

      you just have to do two things:

      #1 you check the digital signature of the actual data payload on the passport (which probably contains other things besides the iris scan, things like your name, address, blah blah blah)

      #2 you do status checking on the certificate that was used to sign said data (just in case it was compromised, hey, it could happen).

      #1 will already give you a pretty high level of confidence that things haven't been mucked around wi
    • cryptographically check with a central office
      • Across the internet
      • To/From MS Windows OS driven machines
      I feel like I'm quoting from Cluedo.
      • Colonel Mustard
      • In the library
      • With a Candlestick
  • passanger get's mugged by terrorist who steals his ticket ..... and now his eyes to present to the machine ....
  • I know people are going to trash this idea as a Privacy Issue, but keep in mind, there *are* a lot of bad people out there. But also, at this point in the evolution of technology, talking about "privacy" is almost silly, TRW and Nexus/Lexus already know more about you than you do.
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:41PM (#8344811)
    What about using colored contact lenses [] to change identities. The only way to make brown eyes look blue is with a fake iris. A less suspicious person gets a passport wearing a pair of these and then gives that pair of contacts to another less-reputable person. I wonder if German authorities would even look twice at a nice artificially blond, artificially blue-eyed disguised terrorist.
    • Ahhh... as with most iris scanning I would assume that one of two things would happen (or both). 1) Whenever you got your passport, and everytime you got scanned at the airport, you would be required to remove your contacts. 2) The iris scanning will probaly be able to read through contacts or at least dectect that they are contacts. You cannot fake a the depth of an iris with a contact, so i am sure that could be dected. Also, you get different contacts regualry, so since no two contacts can be the s
    • There are two types of colored contact lenses - opaque and non-opaque.

      I've got the non-opaque ones, which is basically a colored transparent circle in the middle of the lens. It does tint my vision a little, but the brain gets used to it. I don't use them for photography. This type does not lighten dark eyes. I'm pretty sure you could easily get an iris print through these.

      The opaque kind has a printed fake iris-like pattern on them, and are clear in the middle (and they don't tint your vision) I didn't l
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Amsterdam Airport Schiphol introduced iris scanning in 2002 []
  • What me, worried? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:41PM (#8344817) Homepage
    Germans collecting bilogical data about everyone who comes through their borders...what could go wrong?
    • I just spit up my drink. The worst part is I'm applying to get a German passport. My father passed away recently, and considering the data that was in his birth certificate (family history for 300 years). I would say that things have been known to go wrong with collecting this much information. Especially considering what my birth certificates from that era were used for.

      But I'd have to say that Germans would probably be the last people to abuse that data considering that a vast number of them know the con
    • Get used to it matey.. the americans want my fingerprints and biometric data to enter your country!
  • Furthermore, the iris doesn't just betray the identity of the passenger, but can also tell much about his or her possible drug and alcohol consumption.

    Cuff him, the computer says he might be high!

  • On the one hand... (Score:5, Informative)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) <> on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:43PM (#8344839) Journal
    This is rather invasive and doesn't bode well for privacy. Not to mention the issues of being able to get the same scan every time (eye damage, anyone?). On the other hand, it does make an attempt to solve the authentication problem -- how do you know that the person holding the passport is the person the password was issued to? Take a sample of data points from the scan at the time of application which are guaranteed to be reproducible (the signature) and sign it against a government-held private key. Barring changes in the eye structure, this should be easily reproducible.

    Still, all these methods do nothing to prevent terrorism. They only validate that the person shoving their eye into the reader, terrorist or innocent, matches with the passport. Done properly, it should be incredibly difficult to forge a passport without having someone high up on the inside with access to the private encryption key. But it won't stop terrorists.
  • Abnormalities? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MysteriousMystery ( 708469 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:44PM (#8344848)
    What about the blind? People who use colored or distorted contacts (IE shaded contacts, contacts with designs on them), or other abnormalities of the eye. There might be a lot of ways people could potentially bypass a system like that.
  • by NeoTheOne ( 673445 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:44PM (#8344858)
    Its only a matter of time before walking out your door requires a biometric scan. It is preposterous that we as free people of the world allow ourselves to be subjected to this for the sake of "security". This is like any other "protective" measure. It screws over the decent people of the earth and does nothing to the criminals. GUN LAWS DONT KEEP GUNS OUT OF CRIMINAL HANDS! All the terrorists and bad guys are gonna do now is sneak into countries without flying to them directly. Or the terrorists will recruit people inside of countries they dont like. You dont stop bad guys by telling them to stop. You MAKE the BAD GUYS stop. Leave joe-shmoe's rights alone.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:45PM (#8344864)
    When all this "We Will Keep the Terrorists Away(TM)" technology becomes really cheap, we will enjoy a future where:

    All transactions are electronic. Think "Credits" in "Total Recall".

    All movement is scanned. Think eye scanning in "Minority Report".

    All new information is copyrighted, and DRM free info is exchanged amongs the population like drugs are today. Think "Matrix" where Neo gets his little disks for cash, before he goes and follows the White Rabbit.

    All information is put together in a database, where the Government can search it at will, without a warrent. Think "198..." scratch that. Think "2004", TIA project, Echelon, Patriot Act I, Patriot Act II, Patriot Act III (comming soon to a Democracy near you) et. al.


    • Big Brother State (Score:4, Informative)

      by rock_climbing_guy ( 630276 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:25PM (#8345259) Journal
      Personally, I think that one of the most chilling police states in movies is in the movie "The 5th Element." For those of you who haven't seen it, there is actually a station in our hero's own apartment where he is required by law to go to and bend over, placing his hands on the wall while the police enter his place and arrest him.

      Does having an "arresting station" in one's own dwelling-place not sound a bit more chilling that eye-scanning?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:46PM (#8344877)
    ...start using operatives who have no eyes. And then what will we do?
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:47PM (#8344890)
    With each new device or method used in airports to catch or filter out terrorists, the barrier to commit terrorist acts is raised higher. What do you think will happen when it becomes virtually impossible to do anything even remotely odd near or inside airports and airplanes? well I'll tell you : terrorists will fall back on easier targets, chiefly trains. And then, once a train has been derailled, every government will start applying airport police-state methods to railway stations and trains, and so on ...

    It's an endless battle. If countries carries on trying to defend themselves like they do now (mostly in the US, but also in other countries), they'll all turn into huge menacing police states. and terrorists will have won. If those countries don't defend themselves, terrorists will blow things up forever and will have won again.

    What the world really needs is a true force of education in dangerous countries, a project that spans over 2 or 3 generations. The US is in Afghanistan and Iraq, why don't they set up schools to teach the current generation of kids there not to hate, and why terrorism is bad? They're not doing jack squat, and neither are any other countries concerned by terrorist threats. Instead of starting to implement that long-term, but only real solution to the terrorist problem, they barricade themselves and make life miserable for their own populations.
    • It's an endless battle. If countries carries on trying to defend themselves like they do now (mostly in the US, but also in other countries), they'll all turn into huge menacing police states.

      But dude, we have to do it to protect our freedom and our way of life.

      You're not against freedom and our way of life. . . are you?

      • by torpor ( 458 )
        The proper response to terrorism is to do nothing in response.

        Those who are waving the terrorism banner right now are using it to distract us all from the other, real, serious problems.

        Such as the U.S. National Debt, &etc. That is not Freedom.
    • The US is in Afghanistan and Iraq, why don't they set up schools to teach the current generation of kids there not to hate, and why terrorism is bad?

      Those schools would be called "non-interference in foreign domestic affairs," "removal of military presence in foreign nations" and "non-endorsement of repressive monarchies."
      Unfortunately such an education tends to raise oil prices.

      Anyway, those measures wouldn't stop fanatics like Osama -- just the common and middle-class people who wind up supporting him,

  • by jskiff ( 746548 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:53PM (#8344955) Homepage
    I actually worked with Iridian [] back when they were called "Iriscan" a few years ago. The technology was pretty cool; unlike fingerprint or voiceprints, which can only verify someone's identity after they tell you (via a username, prox card, etc) who they are, an iris scan can actually identify a user based off of their iris pattern.

    A typical fingerprint has about 10 points that can be uniquely identified, and on a thumbprint scanner you're lucky to get 5 or 6 of them reliably. The iris has roughly 26 unique points that can be picked up every time. Back when I was working with Iridian's stuff they used a low light video camera to basically take a picture of your funky lasers or anything like that. Additionally, and perhaps morbidly so, they had built technology to help identify if the eye was live or not, so not only could you not just hold up a picture of an eye, but you couldn't take someone else's eye (a la Demolition Man, I believe) and hold it up to the scanner.

    Additionally, the iris pattern (and thumbprint or voiceprint in other applications) is never held as an actual pattern; it's just a hash based off of what comes off the scanner, so privacy was not much of a concern.
  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @06:55PM (#8344983) Journal
    this poor kid [] wasn't born in Germany.
  • What if.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by LazyBoy ( 128384 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:05PM (#8345065)
    What if I come from a country that doesn't have an iris scan embedded in a passenger's machine-readable passport?

    Also, Keratoconus is a disease that causes the cornea to deform. This would cause scans of your iris to change. Also, people with this often have cornea transplants. The stitches (which are sometimes left in "forever") are right over the iris.

  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:06PM (#8345078)
    What good is comparing an iris scan to information on the passport? It should be compared against a central database. At some point the system used to place the information on the passport will be cracked - either by hacking or theft. Criminals or terrorists with the most money (Al Qaeda have had access to millions of $$ in the past) will be able to effectively bypass the system whilst the honest individual citizens are kept under the thumb by big brother.
  • I work for a private security company (can't give you the name) and we are looking into biometrics too.

    They seem to work quite well. There is one "drawback" though: you can only use them to identify people who are already in your database. So it can only be used to authorize personel and not to identify visitors for example. This will remain like this until governements start keeping databases of biometric records.

    Ofcourse this isn't very evident because the TTEI-resolution of 2001 specifically forbids pr
  • by bmajik ( 96670 )
    sounds like a good reason to not fly.

    I just saw minority report a few weeks ago. I very quickly thought to myself "when some government tries this mandatory retina scanning shit, humanity is done"

    thanks EU.

    I'm wondering when some government is going to require every citizen to wear a mark. maybe the same government will link the mark to being able to participate in monetary transactions.

    I'll be moving to a desert, thanks.

    • Re:uh oh (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Space cowboy ( 13680 )
      Er, given that every foreign national must now have their fingerprints and photograph taken when entering the USA, I don't think you have much of a vantage point for your pulpit...

      Personally I object to both. I've never been a criminal, and don't see why I should be treated like one. The sad thing is that the UK are heading towards ID cards (completely useless) as well. Oh but you won't have to show them on demand, just present them at a police station within 7 days... As if there's a difference...

  • by bluethundr ( 562578 ) * on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:15PM (#8345168) Homepage Journal

    I've always had a geeky dreamproject of supplementing my traditional lock and key entry to my house with biometric security devices. The idea being that in the event of a systems failure, instead of being locked out of the house I could fall back to the old lock-n-key method.

    My idea would be to use either iris-scanning, breath analyzation or some combination of the two (ideally a choice so that if one were to fail, say the iris, the breath analyzer would let you in). Much more efficient than fumbling around for keys in the dark! And a blessing to the drunken Irishman I can sometimes be (not all, but SOME stereotypes certainly hold more than a little water...and occasionally some whiskey too!) I digress.

    But the last time I checked, (this was a few years ago) such devices were not so readily available. And when you could find them they were exorbitantly expensive. Insult to injury drivers were only available for NT. Not that it would be that terrible to set up an NT box for this purpose, but Linux of course would be much preferable.

    So my question is, has this situation changed? Has the price of this technology become more available and affordable? Still prohibitively expensive? Any sourceforgian opensource driver alternative for the devices that are?
  • by SysKoll ( 48967 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:21PM (#8345214)
    Did the EU countries tighten their passport renewal procedures? Because right now, anyone can obtain a renewal for a lost passport by providing extremely low-tech documents that are a breeze to forge.

    In France and Belgium, for example, you can walk into a police station and declare you have lost your passports (the prevalence of muggers and pickpockets makes it an easily believable story). You have to provide a birth certificate. What is it? An ordinary piece of paper, incredibly easy to counterfeit. Once your ID has been "established" by this "proof", the authorities will issue a new set of ID documents: forgery-proof ID and biometric passport. With your supplied name and photo on it.

    If at least, they keep a database of iris scans, forgers would be able to do it only once. The article doesn't say anything about such a database.

    So this is a nice strong link in the othewise very weak security chain in Europe.

    • Well, don't know about France and Belgium, but in Denmark it's the same.

      Of course, they don't hand you the passport when you leave. They don't send it to the address you specified. They send it to the address that is stored in the central registry of people.

      Sure, you could probably change that address for a random person, but I'm fairly certain he'd notice in the two to four weeks it takes to get a passport.

      Of course, the next step is then to fake a person who is out of the country for a month or so vaca
      • Good example, Hektor.

        Looking up "security" and "stolen passport" in Google leads to interesting stories. Looks like some EU countries have "misplaced" tens of thousands of blank passports, which got stolen right from the storage rooms of passport offices. What good is it to have holographic imprints in the paper if you put the blanks it in a badly protected drawer? And remember, boys and girls, such a passport gives you access to all the EU, 'cuz Europeans don't need no big bad borders no more. You cannot

  • It's optional! (Score:5, Informative)

    by kju ( 327 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @07:47PM (#8345458)
    As it seems, most of you might have missed the fact, that the system is optional. You don't have to use it, you don't have to own a special passport if you don't want to use it.

    It's setup as a convenience for frequent travellers. Its opt-in, if you would like to call it that way.
  • by poofmeisterp ( 650750 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @08:13PM (#8345662) Journal
    Okay... so they begin doing iris scans. That's great.

    Now Mr. John Q. Terrorist gets on the plane and hijacks it, sending 150 people crashing to their death in the sea. HE'S FRIGGIN' DEAD. Who cares what his biometrics are?

    Two months later, another terrorist boards a plane and hijacks it. Oh, GOOD. They got his iris scan! The world will be safe!!!

    I'm sorry, but I don't know of many suicide terrorists that strike twice.

    Oh, and if you want to comment on how this isn't about terrorism and is more about catching known criminals, etc.... again... what does it matter? Their iris scans aren't on file anywhere else... and if they're really a criminal considering travelling overseas or even internationally, I *think* they would have the sense enough to utilize false documents.

    There are other ways of travelling.

    I fail to see what this will solve or even help.
  • by phloydphreak ( 691922 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @08:33PM (#8345820) Journal
    This technology will never be applicable for identification from a database because of the base rate fallacy: i.e.

    assuming that if a person is corretly identified 99.999% of the time. if there are 500M (roughly all of europe) people in the database, then the mistake rate would be approximately 500 ppl. So for every individual going through, there are 500 possible individuals which he could be. This is not even the full application of the base rate fallacy, there is not enough research published on iris recognition for it to be fully analized (this is a *very* rough estimate).

    *this does make alot of sense for a passport comparator, b/c no one could then steal a passport and use it, unless they want to take the risk of prison on a single hand of poker: with only a royal flush being the way to win (roughly equivalent odds as getting through with some else's passport).

    Which means that you can only be tracked IF:
    The passport has a chip in it with your personal information upon it, and that information (after a verification of your iris) is sent to a data mining facility. No other means of tracking is possible.

    -big brother is not watching you, he keeping your attention every moment of every day; making sure that you never think about anything except what he tells you to think. Making sure that you never feel anything that he doesnt tell you to feel.
  • by yanestra ( 526590 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @08:35PM (#8345840) Journal
    If Germany starts scanning iris', that's mainly because the U.S. wanted so for the sake of their security.

    IMHO it's doubtful if this will change anything in the effective security level. - A number of convicted terrorists were native citizens of non-listed non-suspicious countries or naturalized there, with legal passports.
    An even bigger number were from a suspicious country with legal papers, which were certified by U.S. officials, including visa and so on.

    To me it seems that the main problem of people with invalid or forged papers is that they are just economic refugees, having not even enough money for proper papers.

    Too few money does not seem to be the primary problem of today's terrorists. At least not of those who I heard of.

  • by roderick ( 154525 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @09:06PM (#8346113) Homepage
    This is tangential at best. 9 years ago, I was on a college trip to Moscow that included a several-hour layover in Frankfurt. To get to the food areas, we had to go through customs. Absolutely starved and desperate to try a McDonald's that sold beer, several of us went through Customs together.

    As the agent patted me down, which he did to everyone, he actually grabbed my crotch. Apparently this was a standard part of the pat-down, but it was news to me. Shocked, I blurted out the first word of German which came to mind: "Danke!" I turned eight shades of purple and we all laughed, then they let me through.
  • by pilgrim23 ( 716938 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @09:28PM (#8346254)
    Black Hat gets on plane with faked ID and iris scan; knows the airport screener in Frankfurt is better then the one he left behind in Cyprus. Quick trip to the WC past the harried and underpaid seward, a quickly passed 500 Euro and.... Graft corruption, bribery greed these are the same as they always have been. All these security checks do is placate the cattle. The wolves still feast on the fringes of the herd and occasionally attack the middle. Menwhile, the sheepherd gently leads the rest of us towards the slaughterhouse...
  • by tbond_trader ( 679843 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @10:24PM (#8346584)
    You want to treat me like a criminal then why should I spend my money in your country?
  • by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Friday February 20, 2004 @11:01PM (#8346788) Homepage
    I have this thing, more than a thing, really; more of a screaming, frothing refusal to submit to fingerprinting, retinal scanning, DNA sampling, gait analysis, random drug testing, ID picture taking... I don't think I should have to unless I am arrested and accused of a crime (and I better see a judge and a lawyer, too -- no torture pit in Syria, please).

    I understand that pasports are necessary, and I would submit to good old picture ID, of course. Seems to have worked for a very long time. I do detest having to state various things about my private life (are you married? divorced? where's your wife? A: why the hell is that your business?).

    The 40 or so hijackers that crashed the jets were here on perfectly valid ID's. No biometric scanning would have made a difference.

    So, why are we submitting to this crap? And do you think that the powerful in the U.S. will be ducking their heads into retinal readers when they travel? Do you think the Saudi royals will?

    Do you think they will stop at retinas? DNA will follow. Then RFID tags to track us. All in the name of Safety. Although none of these things will stop criminals from blowing something up. They merely have to keep their noses clean until they attack.

    Now, I know that I am unemployable in corporate America now and forever, for they operate in some realm other than constitutional democracy. I don't grant them the right to make me pee on command, or track my private life (they can fire you for going to a union organizing meeting on your own time -- ruling was upheld).

    But this -- I'm not going to guess, I am going to state that very soon I am locked out of Europe. And if the U.S. follows the EU's lead, I won't be able to leave the United States because I would refuse to have my biometric data taken for a passport?

    I'm never able to travel out of the U.S. unless I submit. They won't let me leave.

    I'm in prison. We all are.
  • by Slur ( 61510 ) on Saturday February 21, 2004 @02:04AM (#8347588) Homepage Journal
    Before I go into my shtick, a couple of puns and punlike semantic constructions. My apologies, some of them are horrible.

    - Won't this be a problem for eyedentical twins?

    - Your passport Mister Willard. "Eye don't think so!"

    - Rods? Cones? Where the hell is my luggage?

    - Sir, can you remove any loose change from your eyelids...

    - Sorry maam, your scan keeps coming up "Grape Juice $2.95."

    And an airline joke or two off the cuff...

    1. Thank you for flying Air Lingus. Oh no, THANK YOU!
    2. Will you be smoking or non-smoking Herr Schrodinger?

    Okay, now to the schtick.

    Yes, isn't it wonderful. At last something macabre and frighteningly science-fictioney is crossing over into our lives, citizens. At last we can unite in glory, as one. Travel is a very cautious affair, citizens. I ask you, should we not take every possible precaution?

    So you see.

    There is no deriding this measure, my fellows.

    It follows then, that we should adopt a similar solidarity in our daily lives. We are one body. We are one, whole, together.

    The 21st century is here! Let's do the 21st Century Cheer!

    Nanobots! Nanobots!

    Siss Boom Bah!
    Gat Ta Ca!
    Iris scans! Cyberspace!
    Siss Boom Bah!

    Human clones!
    Reality shows!
    Dick Clarke's corpse is still alive!
    Human clones!

    Martian brine!
    GMO wine!
    The spice must flow! We rule the soul!
    We're free, cool, and fine!

    Terror War!
    What's it for?
    Raining death from outer space!
    Terror War!

    Woohoo! We love you Twenty First Century!! Big kiss! Mmmwwwahh!

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky