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Ensuring the identity and modesty of the individual in the digital age

How can we be sure that any detective software has not been implanted in our computer, and that our credit card number is actually of interest to them? The concerns cause many to avoid making purchases via the Internet

Illustration from InformationWick: RFID
Illustration from InformationWick: RFID

Two articles published in the December 2008-January 2009 issue of the journal Scientific American-Israel ("Beyond Fingerprints" by Anil K. Jain and Shaarat Pankanti, and "RFID Tags in Your Footsteps" by Kathryn Albrecht) touch on one of the exciting topics of our time: the modesty of the individual In the age of the Internet and digital means of communication, which penetrate every corner of our lives.

Who among us is not afraid in front of the computer monitor when he is asked to type his credit card number (along with all his personal details) during an online purchase, even if the site promises that it is "secure"?. How can we be sure that any detective software has not been implanted in our computer, and that our credit card number is actually of interest to them? The concerns cause many to avoid making purchases via the Internet.

There is almost no detail that identifies us, our history, and our property, including our bank accounts, that does not reside honorably in cyberspace, in the computer databases of various institutions, or on the web pages. Hundreds of millions of people participate in various social networks, such as Facebook and MySpace, and not only do they publish their photos online, but sometimes almost every detail of their lives is exposed for all to see. Also, all our medical information is stored in databases of health insurance funds and hospitals. In the future, personal genetic databases will also be added to them. To all this must be added the photo archives taken of us by the thousands of video cameras scattered today in almost every public place, such as shopping centers, banks and many institutions. We are photographed without our permission and even without our knowledge.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the means of identification of the 20th century (paper and plastic) will not be enough in our century, and electronic biometric means must be added (such as: fingerprint, iris, face photo). A fingerprint is the simplest solution for effective identification. The sensor is relatively cheap and small in size, so it can be placed on a personal computer, a mobile phone, on the front door of the house, or even on an integrated magnetic card. As the authors of the article Beyond Fingerprints write: "Unlike physical means such as a credit card, or knowing a password, biometric characteristics are much more difficult to forge, copy, share, lose or guess. The use of biometric characteristics is actually the only way to determine if a certain person has been issued several official documents, such as a driver's license or passport, in different names, to verify, for example, whether a person has a permit to enter a building, or to verify that a person is entitled to relief payments."

But the issue that worries all opponents of these methods is the security of the information and the prevention of its misuse. These issues are becoming central in the Internet generation, although many of us, especially the young, who were born into this reality and rush to reveal information about themselves, are not aware of the dangers, individual modesty and copyright. The greatest danger that lurks in our face is identity theft, not only by criminal elements whose goal is fraud for the purposes of robbery and robbery, but also by terrorist organizations, with all that this implies for financial institutions, public institutions, transportation infrastructures and the citizens themselves.

Man has a natural tendency to resist intrusion into his privacy, something we define as individual modesty. Anyone who happens to be in the airport can probably see a tourist reacting hard and sometimes even irritated in the face of the intrusive questions asked by the selectors at the airport. In particular, questions that repeat themselves several times without the selectors providing an explanation for this essential duplicity are especially "upsetting". Does the digital age eliminate individual modesty? Is George Orwell's vision, which he described in his book 1984, of a world ruled by "Big Brother" who sees and knows everything about everyone as a means of totalitarian control, coming true?

In today's reality, information is not taken from us by force as in Orwell's vision. We volunteer most of the information about ourselves, often unwittingly, to the Internet. It is precisely in totalitarian countries that access to the Internet is limited, but even in democratic countries the state may misuse information. Misuse of information is also the reason for the opposition voiced by many to the Israeli government's decision to establish a database of fingerprints and facial photographs. Some fear that access to such a database will be easy, and the information in it may even be sold to commercial companies. Therefore, a safer Internet and more secure databases are needed. It is hoped that the widespread use of biometric characteristics as a means of identification will reduce the danger of using a stolen identity, but also that the information will be used wisely.

The internet is essentially chaotic, and anyone can enter or leave it from anywhere and at any time. But every company must establish rules, drivers and laws, to ensure its existence. Can we maintain a delicate balance between the two worlds? - time will tell.

3 תגובות

  1. This biometric pool is a tremendous power, and like any power there is a 100% certainty that it will be misused sooner or later.
    And this is why they say that a gun that appears in the first act shot a fifth, and therefore it is absolutely forbidden to create such a powerful reservoir, because it is better not to have the possibility to use this power for good because then there will also be no possibility to misuse it and the inability to misuse it is what is more important.

  2. "Big Brother" the sophisticated program to promote voyeurism among Israel's idiots.

    Remember, the fact that you are photographed on every street corner does not make you a celebrity!!!

    Written in the masculine language for convenience, unfortunately you won't be a celebrity either...

  3. The Big Brother Law is, in short, the big trouble of the winter-summer of 2009 and a lamentation for generations to come for those who consider the first's right to their body and life to be a fundamental right.

    During the years of our lives, we have accumulated a lot of information about us in various databases - the bank account, the medical file, the credit card, social insurance, the bank, the Ministry of the Interior, the police and much more.
    Each such database needs a separate code or a certain certificate that allows access to it.

    The identification law and the biometric database are intended to provide, to put it simply, a "master key" for all these databases together and the possibility of cross-referencing information from the databases to provide lists of citizens with specific potential - a certain economic potential, medical potential, crime potential and status. The use of these databases is supposedly reserved for government authorities, but already in the bill itself there are quite a few loopholes that signal the possibility of cooperation with private companies. In addition, the state authorities have proven that they are unable to maintain a data base without leakage for a period of time exceeding 5 years
    Our fingerprint or facial signature will be used to identify us in an ever-expanding circle of government bodies and private companies, starting with the income tax, for banks and ending with a supermarket.

    If until today you were able to decide to replace your certificate with another certificate, or your code with another code, the biometric database law puts this basic right in jeopardy -
    A fingerprint cannot be changed, as can a facial signature. These are our innate qualities that the state seeks to make its property. The bill (which already passed the first reading in the Knesset) stipulates prison sentences and sanctions for citizens who refuse to cooperate with the biometric signature.

    In the coming weeks, the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Shtrit, will press for the passage of this law, known as the "Big Brother Law", in a second and third reading, with his deadline being the looming election.

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