Fingerprint readers, iris scanners, palm vein scanners, facial recognition systems and more — biometric ID tools are going mainstream. But will the mainstream go biometric?
Moss Bluff Elementary School in Lake Charles, La., wanted to speed up the cafeteria line and reduce errors in lunch accounting. So the school bought a Fujitsu PalmSecure biometric ID system, which has a scanner that reads the unique patterns of blood vessels in a human palm, enabling a positive ID, much like a fingerprint would.
When school officials sent out a letter announcing the program, some parents freaked out.
The parents had concerns centering around the belief that all forms of biometric ID constitute what the Christian Bible calls “the mark of the beast.”
Here’s what it says in Revelation 13:15-18: “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, OR the name of the beast, or the number of his name … and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”
I was surprised to learn while researching this column that opposition to any sort of biometric ID systems for payment might be widespread among some Christian groups.
A Christian blogger named Elwood Sanders summed up the biblical case for rejection of biometric ID like this: “Let me state my position clear: NO BIOMETRIC ID CARD! PERIOD! Every evangelical Christian needs to say NO to this kind of thing.”
The case of Moss Bluff Elementary highlights our current reality with biometric ID technology: It’s becoming so mainstream that schools are using it in their cafeterias. But some people are rejecting it based on religious grounds.
So will pervasive biometric ID be adopted? Or rejected? The answer is less clear than you might think.
How evil is biometric ID?
Opposition to biometric ID is pretty widespread, and most of that opposition is based not on prophecy, but on concerns about privacy.
A Senate hearing last month revealed the U.S. government’s own concerns about the use of facial-recognition technology, both by government law enforcement agencies and private companies like Facebook.
Europe is broadly resisting Facebook’s facial recognition initiative, especially Germany.
A professor from Spain’s Universidad Autonoma de Madrid told the Black Hat conference recently that researchers there have come up with a way to hack iris recognition systems that fools the systems into identifying one person as another, raising fears that the main benefit of biometrics — certainty — may not be as reliable as promised.
There are many privacy organizations and advocates with serious reservations about the use of biometric identification technology of any kind.
Moreover, many people associate fingerprinting with criminality, and they just don’t like the idea of it.
In general, privacy advocates view biometric tools — especially those that can operate from a distance, such as facial recognition systems — as grease on the slippery slope toward an Orwellian future in which the government can track everyone at all times with perfect accuracy.
So we find ourselves in a strange position in which some religious conservatives and some secular liberal privacy advocates both agree that biometric identification is evil.
Both groups can be vocal and influential. I predict that general opposition to biometrics will grow strong over the next few years.
But so will support for the technology.
Your body is the credit card
The cashless society is coming. The first step is the use of smartphones to make wireless payments.
Google, Apple and others are pushing hard to move money out of your wallet and into your phone.
The idea is that you’ll walk into a store, transfer money from your account to the store, then walk out. No wallet necessary.
But without your wallet, how do they know it’s really you?
Apple is buying the fingerprint company AuthenTec. It’s likely that Apple will use the acquisition to build fingerprint ID into its products so you can use your Apple ID to buy anything.
Android phones are expected to increasingly offer fingerprint ID systems and other biometric tools.
It’s just a matter of time before a majority of Americans are carrying biometric ID scanners in their own pockets.
Florida schools are talking about using biometric ID technology not only in the cafeteria, but also in the library and on the bus.
Japan is looking at using facial-recognition systems and other tools to speed up immigration procedures at two major airports.
A day care center in Minnesota is using fingerprint ID to make sure people picking up children are authorized to do so.
Biometric technology is even being proposed as the solution for cloud-computing security.
The people who accept and approve of biometric ID technology do so because it adds security and convenience to our everyday lives.
So it appears we’re headed for a clash. On the one hand, you have a huge push for biometrics to replace signatures, passwords and photo IDs.
On the other, you have a large number of people who consider biometrics an unparalleled evil, and they will refuse to participate.
Who’s right and who’s wrong? Is biometric technology the answer to our security problems? Or is it just plain evil?
Categories: Bible Prophecy, Breaking News
I can see great benefits from ID technology. Those who have a clear conscience should have nothing to fear, and in fact should embrace anything that assists in crime detection. But . . .
Of course there is a ‘but’. While the technology is welcome, there is almost bound to be perverted people (or pervertable people) with access to the technology, and that is where the problem lies. Can technology advance to the stage that it is foolproof, ensuring it is NEVER used wrongly? I doubt that.
Hi Lyn. I entirely agree with Wayne. All technology, except the arms industry and related industries, generally is developed for the benefit of mankind (as is your bacteria scanner Lyn) but we all know that there are groups that want to twist and distort this technology for unpleasant purposes. It must be near the time when their toys are going to be taken away from them and put back into the right hands for the benefit of mankind. And we all know Who is going to do it 🙂
As in anything it’s not the gun, the computer, the technology that’s the problem. It’s the people using them. How many people would you trust with this kind of technology to use at their will concerning you and your money and your life? Great article…Thank you.
Something interesting; I had this idea, from working in nursing homes that no one had ever thought of. I researched it, no one. It was a hand scanner that scanned bacteria, good and bad, on the hands that could be used in schools, isolation units, cancer hospitals, restaurants, food industry, etc. How it would work, let’s say for a hospital, is that you would have one on each hall, along with a touch free hand santizer pump. You would rest your hand upon it and it would read the amount of baceria and types. Also, it would self-clean with a special light beneath the surface that would heat up to a point where it would disinfect the surface where people lay there hands.
If you had too much bacteria, and any of the harmful types, you would have to wash your hands again and re-scan until all clear. You would have to do this in between each patient, and records would be kept if you did not. It would also help in that it would track by the state whether patients were being seen by the nursing staff as often as they should. I wrote to Anil Jayne, a professor at University of Michigan, also the inventor of biometrics. He loved my idea, but said he did not have the expertise in the germ/infection department.
I submitted my idea to NCR, and a guy was very very interested and was going to talk to his supervisor. A week later, he left me a very brief email saying they didn’t have the technology to do this sort of thing. Now, suddenly, there are things like this, since I submitted. I researched and researched, even the inventions library at the library…nothing. I had this idea, and because I had not the technology for making a prototype of it, I had to rely on trusting someone else. So, I gave the idea, and now it is in action.
In a sense, though, I never linked it to the biometrics, end time stuff. I certainly hope that my idea, stolen from me, did not have anything to do with the mark of the Beast in relation to biometrics. If it did, I guess it had to be to fulfill prophecy.