Dispatches > In Brief

In Brief

"In Brief" Continued...

Issue: "Tools of a tyrant," Aug. 10, 2002

More than just a name

Your next identification card may say much, much more about you. ID cards are becoming fancier with new security measures and more technology. The Pentagon is especially concerned with security post-9/11, so future military identification cards will encode information about fingerprints or other physical characteristics. The Defense Department's latest IDs already show some major changes: name, rank, and serial number are embedded on a computer chip located just below the user's picture. But the next generation of military identification may include what geeks call biometrics, which matches people to their physical characteristics. This includes fingerprints, hand shape, iris pattern, voice print, or face. Users would log in with their ID cards and then have their fingerprints or eyes scanned to verify identity. Such security is already famous in action movies. High security is also becoming popular in the private sector. A Harris Interactive survey last spring found that more than half of all employees want stricter ID procedures in the workplace and tighter computer protection. | Chris Stamper

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