Biometrics: What you see ain't what you get

Steve LeSueur, Washington Technology editor

Biometric technologies, once regarded as expensive and unreliable, are now a standard component of many security solutions. Congress, in fact, has begun mandating biometrics in some applications. In the wake of last September's terrorist attacks, we want to know with greater certainty who has authority to access critical facilities, computers and networks ? and who does not.

Biometrics promises a lot ? sometimes too much. Staff Writer Patience Wait, who surveyed the biometrics landscape for this issue's cover story, found that while there's a lot of biometrics work going on, much of it is with fingerprinting systems, the most mature and politically acceptable of the technologies.

You should also read the accompanying column by Carlos Soto, a technology reviewer with Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News. Carlos dispels some common misconceptions regarding biometrics.

Finally, while support for biometrics remains strong, its practical application can run into roadblocks from citizens and groups who fear its potential misuse by the government and others. Staff Writer William Welsh's story in our state and local section describes the controversy generated by proposals to use biometrics with driver's licenses as a way to combat identification fraud.

And just so you know that I am who I say I am, my signature and
photo accompany this Editor's Note.

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