Last Updated Dec 14, 2010 5:06 PM EST
I have a call in for details from the company, but in the absence of something overwhelmingly compelling, call me highly dubious. On the surface, this seems like a potentially disastrous idea that could blow up into another privacy issue, cost a lot of money, and fail to do what it was intended to. Here are just some of the issues:
- Any sort of identification requires initial authentication, because you need the "correct" reference information for comparison. For such a scheme to work broadly, airport personnel would need access to the verified information. Where does this come from? Either a government or a private company would have to scan people's eyes in advance and gain information that is as unique as a DNA match or fingerprints. Ever see how people react at the thought of a national DNA database?
- Not only does the information have to be available domestically, but also internationally, otherwise, you have no way to verify passengers from another country. So now your data is not only available all over your home country, but all over the world.
- Once data is available, it gets used. When everyone has to give fingerprints, then government agencies have to use the fingerprints because, after all, they're available, so you might as well really know who you're talking to. Retina scans are the same, only no one has to wipe ink off after.
- Researchers are on the trail of real retinal transplants made from embryonic stem cells. If that eventually works, you might find that it was possible for people to effectively erase an identity (dare I call it an eye-dentity?), making the usefulness of the approach questionable in the long run.
If technology can miss that, I don't put a lot of trust it in making up for all the mistakes that could and probably would happen in the actual processes that people put into place.