Feeds

Blair crime policy review proposes fingerprint activated iPods

Biometric-bonkers wonks ahoy..

Remote control for virtualized desktops

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. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.