In the future, whether it's entering your home, opening your car, entering your workspace, getting a pharmacy prescription refilled, or having your medical records pulled up, everything will come off that unique key that is your iris. Every person, place, and thing on this planet will be connected [to the iris system] within the next 10 years. - Jeff Carter, CDO of Global Rainmakers
The Rutherford Institute
November 16, 2010
The U.S. government and its corporate allies are looking out for you — literally — with surveillance tools intended to identify you, track your whereabouts, monitor your activities and allow or restrict your access to people, places or things deemed suitable by the government. This is all the more true as another invasive technology, the iris scanner, is about to be unleashed on the American people.
Iris scanning relies on biometrics, which uses physiological (fingerprint, face recognition, DNA, iris recognition, etc.) or behavioral (gait, voice) characteristics to uniquely identify a person. The technology works by reading the unique pattern found on the iris, the colored part of the eyeball. This pattern is unique even among individuals with the exact same DNA. It is read by projecting infra-red light directly into the eye of the individual.The perceived benefits of iris scan technology, we are told, include a high level of accuracy, protection against identity theft and the ability to quickly search through a database of the digitized iris information. It also provides corporations and the government — that is, the corporate state — with a streamlined, uniform way to track and access all of the information amassed about us, from our financial and merchant records, to our medical history, activities, interests, travels and so on. In this way, iris scans become de facto national ID cards, which can be implemented without our knowledge or consent. In fact, the latest generation of iris scanners can even capture scans on individuals in motion who are six feet away. And as these devices become more sophisticated, they will only become more powerfully invasive.
At the forefront of this effort is the American biometrics firm Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI), which has partnered with the city of Leon — one of the largest cities in Mexico — to create "the most secure city in the world." GRI plans to achieve this goal by installing iris scanners throughout the city, thus creating a virtual police state in Leon.
The eye scanners, which can scan the irises of 30—50 people per minute, will first be made available to law enforcement facilities, security check-points, police stations, detention areas, jails and prisons, followed by more commercial enterprises such as mass transit, medical centers and banks and other public and private locations. As the business and technology magazine Fast Company reports:
To implement the system, the city is creating a database of irises. Criminals will automatically be enrolled, their irises scanned once convicted. Law-abiding citizens will have the option to opt-in.
However, as Fast Company points out, soon no one will be able to opt out:
When these residents catch a train or bus, or take out money from an ATM, they will scan their irises, rather than swiping a metro or bank card. Police officers will monitor these scans and track the movements of watch-listed individuals.
"Fraud, which is a $50 billion problem, will be completely eradicated," says Carter.
Not even the "dead eyeballs" seen in Minority Report could trick the system, he says.
"If you've been convicted of a crime, in essence, this will act as a digital scarlet letter. If you're a known shoplifter, for example, you won't be able to go into a store without being flagged. For others, boarding a plane will be impossible."
Mark my words: the people of Leon, Mexico, are guinea pigs, and the American people are the intended control subjects.
In fact, iris-scanning technology is already being implemented in the U.S. For example, the Department of Homeland Security ran a two-week test of the iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, in October 2010. That same month, in Boone County, Missouri, the sheriff's office unveiled an Iris Biometric station purchased with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Justice. Unknown by most, the technology is reportedly already being used by law enforcement in 40 states throughout the country.
There's even an iPhone app in the works that will allow police officers to use their iPhones for on-the-spot, on-the-go iris scanning of American citizens. The manufacturer, B12 Technologies, has already equipped police with iPhones armed with facial recognition software linked to a statewide database which, of course, federal agents have access to. (Even Disney World has gotten in on the biometrics action, requiring fingerprint scans for anyone entering its four Orlando theme parks. How long before this mega-corporation makes the switch to iris scans and makes the information available to law enforcement? And for those who have been protesting the whole-body imaging scanners at airports as overly invasive, just wait until they include the iris scans in their security protocol. The technology has already been tested in about 20 U.S. airports as part of a program to identify passengers who could skip to the front of security lines.)The goal of the corporate state, of course, is to create a total control society — one in which the government is able to track the movements of people in real time and control who does what, when and where. In exchange, the government promises to provide security and convenience, the two highly manipulative, siren-song catchwords of our modern age.
Again, as Fast Company reports:
For such a Big Brother-esque system, why would any law-abiding resident ever volunteer to scan their irises into a public database, and sacrifice their privacy? GRI hopes that the immediate value the system creates will alleviate any concern.
"There's a lot of convenience to this — you'll have nothing to carry except your eyes," says Carter, claiming that consumers will no longer be carded at bars and liquor stores.
And he has a warning for those thinking of opting out:
"When you get masses of people opting-in, opting out does not help. Opting out actually puts more of a flag on you than just being part of the system. We believe everyone will opt-in."
So who's the real culprit here? While we all have a part to play in laying the foundations for this police state — the American people due to our inaction and gullibility; the corporations, who long ago sold us out for the profit they could make on us; the federal government, for using our tax dollars to fund technologies aimed at entrapping us; lobbyists who have greased the wheels of politics in order to ensure that these technologies are adopted by government agencies; the courts, for failing to guard our liberties more vigilantly; the president, for using our stimulus funds to fatten the pockets of technology execs at the expense of our civil liberties — it's Congress that bears the brunt of the blame.
Our so-called elected representatives could and should have provided oversight on these technologies in order to limit their wide-spread use by corporations and government agencies. Yet they have done nothing to protect us from the encroaching police state. In fact, they have facilitated this fast-moving transition into a suspect society.Ultimately, it comes back to power, money and control — "how it is acquired and maintained, how those who seek it or seek to keep it tend to sacrifice anything and everything in its name" — the same noxious mix that George Orwell warned about in his chilling, futuristic novel 1984. It is a warning we have failed to heed. As veteran journalist Walter Cronkite observed in his preface to a commemorative edition of 1984:
Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead [send him mail] is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He is the author of The Change Manifesto (Sourcebooks).
1984 is an anguished lament and a warning that vibrates powerfully when we may not be strong enough nor wise enough nor moral enough to cope with the kind of power we have learned to amass. That warning vibrates powerfully when we allow ourselves to sit still and think carefully about orbiting satellites that can read the license plates in a parking lot and computers that can read into thousands of telephone calls and telex transmissions at once and other computers that can do our banking and purchasing, can watch the house and tell a monitoring station what television program we are watching and how many people there are in a room.
We think of Orwell when we read of scientists who believe they have located in the human brain the seats of behavioral emotions like aggression, or learn more about the vast potential of genetic engineering.
And we hear echoes of that warning chord in the constant demand for greater security and comfort, for less risk in our societies. We recognize, however dimly, that greater efficiency, ease, and security may come at a substantial price in freedom, that "law and order" can be a doublethink version of oppression, that individual liberties surrendered for whatever good reason are freedoms lost.
September 3, 2010
Sberbank, Russia's largest lender, expects cash flow from its plastic cards to grow by 50% once a new universal identity and payment card system is launched in 2012.
Sberbank, together with Uralsib bank and Ak Bars Bank, is set to launch the “Unicard” project which will combine social security and banking services. This means people's welfare benefits will be on the banks books, giving a boost to their deposit base.
In addition, it is a step towards a non-cash based society called the universal card project.
Russians will be able to draw pensions, pay taxes and shop with one card. Banks in turn would have access to increased funds from the state budget making use of generated cash flows. Viktor Orlovsky, Vice President at Sberbank, expects the move will result in increased operations.
“If the project is successful we hope to see a 50% increase in turnover on cards. And, of course, we plan to issue credit applications along with these cards, providing loans and microloans to pay for services.”At the moment, most bank cards in Russia have either the Visa or MasterCard logo on them. However, the global giants are not taking part in the Russian universal card project for reasons of national security, project participants say. The question remains whether or not the new Russian card will demonstrate real competition to the payment systems that have already taken root in the country's wallets.
In order to compete with Visa or Mastercard, the future Russian plastic cards will have to be accepted abroad, observers point out. That is not planned at the moment.
Previous attempts to launch national credit cards in Russia have proved unsuccessful, with Director General at Rusrating Richard Hainsworth saying that the underdevelopment of business organization on various levels in the country leaves almost no chance for national card systems to face foreign competition.
“It is quite possible that a local card system couldn’t work because of the structure of the tax system and legislation, whereas Visa and Mastercard don’t have to handle those sorts of problems on a global basis. So, they are able to provide to Russia cheaper products because Russian bureaucracy makes it hard for Russian companies to compete.”However, Sberbank says, it is now closely cooperating with international payment systems in technology for the new card, as in the future they may become project shareholders, providing operations abroad.
September 12, 2010
Moscow citizens would receive the special electronic cards starting the year 2011. This card will become a substitution for health insurance policies, pension insurance certificate, tickets and will be an ID for different public services. This was stated by the mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin at the meeting of the Moscow City Duma on Wednesday during the discussion of the draft budget of Moscow in 2011.
This new universal card would keep all the opportunities of todays “Moscow citizen’ social card,” said the mayor.Transition to a universal electronic card will be carried out smoothly in a single year. “
City program “Electronic Moscow” will be updated in the near future, said Sobyanin.The program priorities would be set to:
- provision of more than 60 most popular government services,
- providing of online interaction between the services involved in the calculation of social benefits,
- the creation of a unified geographic information system,
- as well as the maximum involvement of citizens in city management.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin believes that Russia needs a universal card that would provide access to all public electronic services, and would be taken by all departments.
“Sberbank”, “Bank of Moscow”, “Uralsib” and “Ak Bars” created JSC “Universal electronic card“, which would create a single information and billing system for providing information and banking services.
June 30, 2010
State-owned Savings Bank (Sberbank) made the first step in creating a system of universal electronic social cards, which will give Russian citizens access to future electronic state services, Kommersant-Kazan daily reports.
Sberbank has registered open joint-stock company Universal Electronic Card which will operate the new system together with Uralsib bank and Ak Bars Bank. Sberbank also has developed rules to regulate other banks joining the system. Market participants considered the proposed rules acceptable, but have not yet begun to sign up.
“At the given stage, commercial banks have been offered to join pilot projects,” Savings Bank senior Vice-president Victor Orlovsky explained to Kommersant-Kazan. “One project is being undertaken by Sberbank in Astrakhan and one by Uralsib Bank in the Republic of Bashkortostan.”The social electronic card system through which all citizens will get access to state services by 2014 is set to be approved in September 2010. Savings Bank President Herman Gref said to the media that expenses for the social cards system creation will reach nearly 150 billion rubles over 5 years. Among that sum, bank expenses might total 40 billion rubles when participation in the project will provide banks with 4 to 5 percent profit.
The rules developed by Sberbank are similar to those of the international payment system in many respects. According to them, a bank can join the system as a basic or associated member. By analogy to the international payment system, associated participants make all calculations through the bank-sponsor which is a basic member of system. According to Victor Orlovsky, membership in the system will be made on a paid basis, but tariffs are not defined yet.
“It is necessary to understand the economic component of the given project to make a decision to participate in it,” OTP Bank Card Department head Vasily Kuznetsov said. “Participation in the project would be interesting if we could offer social card holders all the other products of our bank. It would be desirable, if banks could earn on participation in social cards system.”Financial transparency is one of the key questions for such projects.
“We have to comprehend the volume of necessary investments and the term of their recoupment, but the given rules have not provided us with this,” Zolotaya Korona payment system representative Maria Mihajlova considers. “Participation in social projects can bring someone political dividends, but in the absence of economic feasibility it approaches more likely the biggest bank with state participation.”Russian government plans combined identity, payment cards
February 17, 2010
Russians may receive universal identity and payment cards from the government that would streamline the payment of pensions and taxes, and even be used like bank cards in stores.
The Kremlin press service said on Wednesday that President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin would present a draft law "on a national payment system" to parliament by March 31. Medvedev proposed creating a national payment system late in 2009, and ordered the law to be drawn during a meeting on Russia's financial development on February 9.
The plan is to issue plastic identity cards with microchips containing the holder's personal information and combining the features of a social security card and a bank card, enabling people to pay taxes, draw pensions and buy products in shops.
“On January 1st 2012, the Russian government will start issuing universal ID cards that will replace current national identification system (Russia has a system of internal passports), medical insurance cards, student IDs, public transport passes, and debit cards. The smart card contains unique personal identifiers and allows for multiple levels of authentication. The Russian government is pushing for local government agencies, transportation providers, banks and retail operators to adopt the government-issued ID to streamline their operations.” - SlashDot.org
Not Another CONspiracy
January 15, 2011
What goes around comes around. It's only a matter of time until American's are issued the full fledged universal electronic card. I say full fledged because your drivers license was only a stepping stone. The U.S. government has been trying to install a system like this for some time now. They just haven't come up with a good enough reason for free citizens to accept it yet. You do remember the Real ID Act of 2005, renamed in 2009 as The PASS ID Act - Providing for Additional Security in States' Identification Act of 2009
A couple of things Russia's new universal electronic card will do:
- Keep track of who has, and does not have, compulsory medical insurance.
- Keep track of who uses personal computers equipped with card reader and mobile devices.
- Keep track of a person whereever they are in Russia.
- All data on the citizen will be stored in the same place and now in the databases of government departments and agencies.
Universal electronic card -- the uniform federal standard. It will replace all the social maps that are locally produced subjects of the federation, as well as replace many other documents, such as a policy of compulsory medical insurance, student cards, travel documents on transport and many others.
With the help of maps it will be available for state, regional and commercial services in electronic form, using ATMs, kiosks, personal computers equipped with card reader, and mobile devices. Universal electronic card will also be sued for the metro, buses, trolley buses and trams. It suffices to bring the card to contactless reader.
Universal electronic card can also be used at internal circulation in the state and other organizations to expedite the service of citizens.
Like an ordinary credit card, universal electronic card can be used to pay for goods and services in shops and any other organizations. In contrast to social security cards, universal electronic card can be used for services in all regions of the country, not only in its "home" region.
It is expected that with the help of universal e-card will be available to over 1000 national and regional services, and more than 10000 commercial. Select the appropriate service, every citizen will be able to in his private office at the portal of the Federal authorized organization "universal electronic card." By default, included only a few federal government services related to health and pensions and banking service fees.
We hope that the convenience, reliability, security and breadth of services available will make a universal electronic card popular with all citizens of our country.
Universal electronic card is safe because it:
- Does not contain a database of citizen. All data on the citizen will be stored in the same place and now -- in the databases of government departments and agencies. Once these agencies have access to the records, a map merely helps you to find the correct record. Lost or stolen cards will not lead to a loss of citizen personal information about yourself;
- Unlike a credit card, a universal electronic card is specially protected. The card is built both with hardware and software protection, which are under the careful supervision of the state;
- To apply the map (except micro-transport) is required to enter a Personal Identification Number. If citizens are forced to enter it, then provide a false PIN number, which will buy time and provide operational assistance to the citizen from power structures;
- Significant transactions using the card can be optionally protected or restricted by a citizen, through his personal account at the portal of a universal electronic card;
- Map visually protected by the banknotes, and the order of its issue and circulation is centralized and under state control.
February 3, 2011
Germany began issuing the new contactless national ID to citizens in November. The program is one of the first contactless-only electronic ID programs. It also employs a unique privacy scheme to protect cardholders.
National ID cards aren’t new in the European Union and many countries use smart card technology to power the credentials. But the contactless German ID is a bit of a departure from what other countries have done and thus necessitated a slightly different take on existing contactless smart cards.
The country expects to issue 60 million cards over the next 10 years to replace existing paper documents, says Rudy Stroh, executive vice president of the ID business and country manager for Germany at NXP Semiconductors. NXP is providing the chip–its 128-kilobyte SmartMX secure contactless microcontroller–for the German e-ID.
“The contactless technology used in the e-ID enables strong privacy protection,” Stroh says.
The first difference between the German ID card and other contactless smart cards is that is can only be read from four centimeters, whereas most other cards can be read from eight to 10 centimeters, Stroh says.
The chip is also PIN protected and will not release any personal information until the correct six-digit code has been entered. Communication between the card and the reader is encrypted and the card generates a unique number to begin each session with a reader, Stroh explains.
Typically when a card and reader are in close proximity, they share a number as a means to cryptographically authenticate one and other in a process called mutual authentication. By ensuring that the number shared for mutual authentication is unique for each session, there is no chance to track a card and thus an individual via this shared number.
Securing both physical and virtual worlds
“With the contactless application,” says Stroh, “there will be opportunities to use the card for a lot of services.”
The German program uses the electronic passport standards developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization and can be used in place of a passport for travel between European Union countries.
“It’s based on the ICAO EAS passport,” Stroh says. “There’s a common terminology being used and commonality between the documents for travel in Europe.”
When traveling to other countries fingerprint templates stored on the card are verified to ensure the identity of the cardholder. Use as a travel document is optional so citizens can choose whether or not to enroll and store fingerprint templates.
The credential can be used for access to government and commercial Web sites as well, explains Stroh, to digitally sign documents, auto fill forms, verify age and login to bank accounts and other services. Stroh estimates that 150 companies–including financial institutions, retailers, and airlines–are working on applications to take advantage of the card technology.
In addition to verifying a cardholder’s identity online, it can protect cardholders from online threats as well. Using mutual authentication techniques between the card and the service provider, cardholders can better trust the authenticity of the service provider.
This is designed to make it faster, more economical and more secure to open and log into accounts while guarding against identity theft. It also can protect young people, for example, by preventing underage cardholders from buying cigarettes from vending machines or accessing other age-defined products and services.From the ground up, the German e-ID was created with privacy protection in mind. This is evident in the handling of age verification as well. Rather than disclose the age of the cardholder to the service provider, only a pass or fail indicator is provided based on the date of acceptability. Card expiration is managed in the same way disclosing only whether the card is valid or invalid, rather than providing the actual date of expiry.
July 16, 2009
Everyone knows the headache of waiting on line at the DMV to get a new driver's license. Now imagine repeating that process 1.2 billion times. Thanks to a new ID program, that's exactly what the government of India will soon experience.
The Indian government has just announced a plan to furnish every member of the country's immense citizenry with state-of-the-art biometric identification cards. The cards will carry retina and fingerprint data and credit and criminal histories, and will be linked to a central online database.
The national ID program hopes to clear up current bureaucratic tangles common in India, where citizens might be issued almost 20 different forms of identification. Adding to the confusion, many of those IDs don't work in different parts of the country.
Obviously, the scale of the project is rather daunting. Huge swathes of India's population are illiterate, rural, and poor. Entering the data of that vast, undocumented segment of society will significantly tax India's notoriously political bureaucracy. Even ignoring the fact that neither the huge numbers of biometric sensors needed to compile the information, nor the huge amount of processing power and memory needed to collate the data, have been assembled, registering a large number of Indians to do anything has proven next to impossible. For instance, fewer than seven percent of India's citizens are registered to pay income tax.
Just to give a sense of the scale of the project, if all the cards India plans to produce were stacked on top of each other, the resulting pile would be 150 times taller than Mount Everest.
To coordinate the huge effort of computerizing, storing, and protecting vital information about every Indian citizen, the government turned to Nandan Nilekani. Nilekani is the former head of the Indian technology company Infosys, and the person who coined the term "the world is flat" to describe the effects of outsourcing and globalization.
Nilekani needs to get moving. The Indian government plans on issuing the first of the IDs within 18 months, and they have only given Nilekani around $5 billion to complete the project.
August 19, 2003
For almost two decades, Chinese citizens have been defined, judged and, in some cases, constrained by their all-purpose national identification card, a laminated document the size of a driver's license.
But starting next year, they will face something new and breathtaking in scale: an electronic card that will store that vital information for all 960 million eligible citizens on chips that the authorities anywhere can access.
Officials hope that the technologically advanced cards will help stamp out fraud and counterfeiting involving the current cards, protecting millions of people from those problems and saving billions of dollars. Providing the cards to everyone is expected to take five or six years. But the vagueness and vastness of the undertaking has prompted some criticism that the data collection could be used to quash dissent and to infringe on privacy.
The project comes at a time when China is doggedly remaking itself into a leaner economic machine in line with the standards of the World Trade Organization. But China is also struggling to track a restless and poor rural population that continues to gravitate toward the cities. So officials are no doubt gambling that the cards can help them juggle two important if conflicting interests: promoting economic liberalization, while monitoring citizens in an increasingly fluid society.
There has been little public discussion or news about the new cards. Brief but rapturous accounts in the official press say the cards will ''protect citizens.''
Yet many of China's toughest critics, at home and abroad, are skeptical, objecting to the concentration of so much information at the government's fingertips.
''Given the record of the Chinese government on protecting the privacy of its citizens and given the prevalence of corruption, how can we ensure that this information will be managed properly?'' asked Nicolas Becquelin, research director at the Hong Kong office of Human Rights in China. ''It's scary what the Chinese government is doing, because there is no counterweight.''The original identification card, introduced in 1985, contains such personal data as one's nationality and birth date and an 18-digit identification number. It also indicates a person's household registration, which has traditionally tied a person to his or her province of birth.
In June, China's top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, passed the National Citizen ID Law, approving the cards. They are to have a microchip storing personal data, but the face of the card is not to contain details any more personal than what is on the current cards. The cards are to be tested early next year, first in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Huzhou, a city in Zhejiang Province.
The agency in charge of the program, the Ministry of Public Security, declined to answer written questions seeking details. But in an interview published in July with Cards Tech and Security, a magazine of the Smart Card Forum of China, a trade group, two Public Security officials, Guo Xing and Liu Zhikui, said the current cards were too easy to forge and did not take advantage of technological advances.
They also said the new cards, which will feature a rendering of the Great Wall, would not look much different from the old ones.
''The ID card and the ID number are mainly going to be used to verify a resident's identity, safeguard people's rights, make it easier for people to organize activities and maintain law and order,'' Mr. Guo said.The use of electronic cards is not particularly new. Other governments and companies issue them. Hong Kong began issuing its own electronic ID cards in June.
With the Olympic Games approaching in 2008, China expects a growing demand for various cards, including transit cards, bank cards and social security cards, said Jafizwaty Haji Ishahak, an analyst in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with Frost & Sullivan, a consulting company. The social services cards that are to be phased in should be able to track all the government services an individual receives, from health care to welfare.
''If you want to live in the fast lane, you have to deal with technology, but you cannot have total freedom,'' said Frank Xu, executive director of Smart Card Forum of China, who is from Huzhou, one of the test cities. ''There have to be conditions.''But detractors say freedom has a far different meaning in China, a place where security officials have never been shy about following or using listening devices on dissidents, journalists or students.
While it may make sense to track would-be terrorists, the cards would also make it much easier for the government to monitor political or religious dissidents. After China's 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, the government televised photographs and identification card numbers of student leaders being sought. Under the new system, tracking dissidents would be much easier, said Mr. Becquelin of the rights group in Hong Kong.
There are concerns that the technology could be prone to abuse, corruption or the whim of the local authorities who routinely thumb their noses at Beijing. This may be particularly true with China's surging population of rural migrants, now estimated at more than 120 million and growing by 13 million a year.
''This new card will make it possible to locate people who haven't registered, so I think the migrants will be more subject to abuse,'' said Dorothy J. Solinger, a professor of political science at the University of California at Irvine.So far, anyway, most Chinese who have heard about the new cards do not seem to mind; indeed, many are enthusiastic. Yes, they say, there is always the possibility of corruption. Yes, one's privacy may be invaded from time to time.
But many Chinese said they liked the idea of guarding against identity theft and ensuring that someone who claims to be, say, a nanny, is telling the truth. Besides, there is also a sense of resignation.
''Our security officials already have all the information about us, anyway, so this is not a big change,'' said one man, surnamed Sun, who is a science professor in Beijing.