Fingerprint Scanning at 6 Meters

Company introduces a device that can read your fingerprints from a distance of 6 meters (~20 feet) away.

The article seems to suggest the inventor has given little thought to the harm his invention might cause… the EFF points out that widespread use of fingerprint scanning means the odds a leak go up significantly. And you can’t change a fingerprint like you can a credit card number.

Me, I’d be more concerned about a modified version being used to capture fingerprints without the person’s consent.

The average magazine cover portrait has enough detail to extract the person’s iris patterns and make fake contact lenses from them. So all an attacker needs to impersonate most famous people to an iris scanner is an afternoon at the library.

The inventor of this thing, though, sees fingerprints becoming so ubiquitous that you’d be forced to submit to it in order to go to work or buy something from Amazon.

The guy should come up with a fingerprint-scanner-detector for people to hang on their keychains to spot illicit uses.

“a machine that Burcham says can photographically capture a fingerprint from as far away as six meters in enough detail to match against a database.[…]

It’s the security of the fingerprint database that concerns privacy experts such as Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “There are so many steps where a (digital) fingerprint can leak,” Tien said.

Tien said electronic fingerprints can be like Social Security numbers. He calls them “coat hangers” on which a lot of identifying information can be hung. In other words, with a Social Security number, you can find out many other things about someone. Fingerprints could be same way, he said, and “someone else could use it to pretend to be me.”[…]

“Yes, it can be abused,” Burcham agreed. “Anything can be abused. The point is, are there restrictions in place to not abuse it?” The answer with IDair is yes, he said. “But what it’s going to come down to is: Do you want to go through that door? Do you want to buy something with Amazon?””


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