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  Report: Biometrics

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  fingerprint identification

Although fingerprinting smacks of police techniques used long before the dawn of the information age, its digital successor finger scanning is the most widely used biometric technology. It relies on the fact that a fingerprint's uniqueness can be defined by analysing the so-called "minutiae" in somebody's fingerprint. Minutae include sweat pores, distance between ridges, bifurcations, etc. It is estimated that the likelihood of two individuals having the same fingerprint is less than one in a billion.

As an access control device, fingerprint scanning is particularly popular with military institutions, including the Pentagon, and military research facilities. Banks are also among the principal users of this technology, and there are efforts of major credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard to incorporate this finger print recognition into the bank card environment.

Problems of inaccuracy resulting from oily, soiled or cracked skins, a major impediment in fingerprint technology, have recently been tackled by the development a contactless capturing device ( which translates the characteristics of a fingerprint into a digitised image.

As in other biometric technologies, fingerprint recognition is an area where the "criminal justice" market meets the "security market", yet another indication of civilian spheres becomes indistinguishable from the military. The utopia of a prisonless society seems to come within the reach of a technology capable of undermining freedom by an upward spiral driven by identification needs and identification technologies.

browse Report:
    Identity vs. Identification
-3   Biometric technologies
-2   Face recognition
-1   Iris recognition
0   fingerprint identification
+1   Palm recognition
+2   Voice recognition
+3   Gait recognition
Biometrics applications: privacy issues