battening down the hatchets
BBC: ID cards 'could threaten privacy'
As I'm currently unemployed there are times I'd love an ID card - constantly being asked to produce 2 pieces of ID for this and that. I'd like to bet that many organisations will still want us to stump up 2 IDs (like the bank). It's the possibility of misuse that worries us, as computer hackers, criminals (and perhaps terrorists) seem more intelligent about cracking the system than governments are in creating the system to begin with. As far as biometrics, I would doubt that "tens of thousands of crimes have been solved" by using DNA - more like several hundred?. Like fingerprints, DNA is 'judged' as being a close match and can never guarantee that it is from one particular person, just a high probability. (BTW - Does anyone know how long it takes to process a DNA sample? Minutes? Hours? days?) CCTV is dependent on paying someone to sit and watch a screen if crime is to be PREVENTED! All rather expensive for local councils. And it's money that will undo the proposed ID cards, we'll have to pay for them, and it will have to be affordable - so it won't have most of the possible safeguards that science is capable of, just the bare minimum to make it appear to do the job. Sorry for the rambling...
Keith - I think you are preaching to the converted somewhat. Even if the card information could not be hacked, the governement (whatever flavour that might be at the time) would just put it all on CD and lose it in the post anyway.
As for the DNA fingerprinting method, this relies on something called the "polymerase chain reaction" a nobel prize winning technique which is not only a fine way of making (literally) exponentially increasing quantities of DNA, but requires only heating, cooling and the addition of a few basic reagents to cycle. Thatmeans that vast numbers of samples can be run in parallel on an automate machine. It's likely that each sample takes an overnight run, but many dozens will be run in parallel without manual intervention. The DNA ladders that you see presented are electrophoretic gels. I don't know whether they routinely run gels for DNA fingerprinting, or whether the actually use some less photogenic technique, but again they can be automated and run in parallel.
Don't know how many people are caught with the method, but it must be pretty standard - they found the guy who broke into out old K-reg Escort a few years ago from a drop of blood, and if it's worth running DNA fingerprinting for that old banger then they must use it a lot! I think in that case, as with many, it's not so much the value in court as the fact that they pulled the guy in and said "we know it was you, we have your DNA" and he just said "ok, yes it was me, I was high and trying to get home".
Richard's thing about satire being hard to spot - I can't remember whether it was the same site he linked to that had an item on CCTV being fed to YouTube for monitoring by the unsleeping "online community", but it's got a real ring of truth to it!
Sorry, I'm rambling now too.
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