Feeds

Blair crime policy review proposes fingerprint activated iPods

Biometric-bonkers wonks ahoy..

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?