Imagine the consequences if a terrorist gained access to the control room of a nuclear power plant, an air traffic control center, or an oil refinery. Actually, you don’t need much imagination; it would look like the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.
Having once lived in the shadow of Three Mile Island and now living near a Union Carbide plant that is a carbon copy of the one in Bhopal India, I don’t sleep well knowing that access to these facilities is typically controlled by a pass code or ID card with a magnetic strip. How difficult would it be for a terrorist to learn a worker’s pass code or steal an ID card from their wallet?
Fortunately, there is a better answer. A biometric scan of a workers iris or other physical feature is virtually impossible to copy. (Fingerprints can and have been stolen, so they aren’t the best choice.) Using biometrics is far more secure than pass codes or ID cards and this helps keep everyone safer.... well, almost everyone.
There is a dark side to biometric technology. If a hacker steals your password, it’s easy to cancel it and create a new one. But what do you do if a hacker gets into the biometric database at a federal agency? Eyes cannot be replaced. Biometrics opens the door to identity theft on a scale that’s almost beyond comprehension. Also, how would this affect human rights?
We can have the greater security and use biometrics without these nightmares. A task force composed of representatives from privacy advocates, unions, employers, and the government recently completed guidelines for the responsible use of biometrics. It’s imperative that we make certain that employers and the government follow them.