Feeds

Blair crime policy review proposes fingerprint activated iPods

Biometric-bonkers wonks ahoy..

High performance access to file storage

The iPod mugging has become one of the top crimes de nos jours, but despair not, worried teen victim - the Tony Blair crime policy legacy is poised to come to your rescue. With fingerprint activation of MP3 players.

The suggestion makes a brief (which is the good news) appearance in the second of Blair's policy reviews, Building on Progress: Security, Crime and Justice, published this week, as an example of how crime can be 'designed out' of products. It is however the only example, which we think is the bad news.

The Government proposes, the review says, to "Work in partnership with businesses to crime-proof their products, services and processes to the highest standards. One example could be introducing fingerprint activation of MP3 players."

Regrettably, the review neglects to explain how the authors think this might work, but given the generally rickety and delusional grasp Government wonks tend to have of biometric technology's capabilities and limitations, we fear we can surmise. In principle it's fairly easy to add fingerprint activation to a personal music player - it's already being done on some laptops and various consumer electronic add-ons, and we're pretty sure we could find a couple of MP3 players that already have it if we could be bothered looking, so don't write in.

That is not the point. The point is that 'security' of this class is generally part speed-bump to the casual intruder, part convenience for people who don't want the hassle of remembering passwords. It is not serious protection of your data, if you want that then you'd be better using encryption, and it does not prevent hardware theft. So long as a thief can reset the biometric activation and reformat the hardware, the previous owner's fingerprints are of little relevance.

So, if the Government proposes to pursue this one, it can possibly persuade a few manufacturers to stick the speed-bump onto their devices and happily bank the crime-fighting marketing collateral. If, however, it proposes to pursue it to the extent that a system that could (theoretically, at least) make a difference was produced, then we'd end up with something along the following lines. Your iPod, mobile phone, electric toothbrush or whatever would require you to undergo a fingerprint activated registration process before it would start working. Your fingerprints could then be stored by the manufacturer along with your name, address, email, phone number and spamming preferences. Then, when the device was lost or stolen you'd simply contact the manufacturer and... Well, as whoever stole your iPod already can't get it to work unless they stole your fingers too, and the manufacturer is surely not about to give you a new one for free, we're not sure about what would come next, or why you'd have bothered contacting the manufacturer, considering.

But anyway, there'd be no point in stealing iPods, probably. Not without the fingers. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.