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Dept. of Homeland Security To Test Iris Scanners 221

Posted by Soulskill
from the eye-for-an-eye dept.
SonicSpike writes "The Homeland Security Department plans to test futuristic iris scan technology that stores digital images of people's eyes in a database and is considered a quicker alternative to fingerprints. The department will run a two-week test in October of commercially sold iris scanners at a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, where they will be used on illegal immigrants, said Arun Vemury, program manager at the department's Science and Technology branch. 'The test will help us determine how viable this is for potential (department) use in the future,' Vemury said."
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Dept. of Homeland Security To Test Iris Scanners

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  • !better (Score:5, Funny)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:49PM (#33566234)
    Brought to you by all those people who thought this administration would be better than the last.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shoehornjob (1632387)

      Brought to you by all those people who thought this administration would be better than the last.

      LMAO. Also brought to you by the folks at Diebold, makers of the hackable electronic voting device. Now taking bets on how long it will take to hack into our iris scanners.

    • You're correct, I'm sorry I voted for Obama, I will immediately file a petition to re-instate GWB... OH WAIT! He already served two terms and couldn't serve any more even if everyone in the USA wanted him to. Comparing the current administration to the previous one is complete bullshit because the previous administration WASN'T EVER AN OPTION.

      The choice was between Obama and McCain, not Obama and GWB. So, this is bought to you by the people that thought that this administration would be better than the Mc
    • From my non-American point of view, the difference between American Liberals and Republicans is like the difference between getting bitten by a cobra or mauled by a bear. One might be somewhat less painful than the other but the end result is not that different. From what I have seen, it does not matter who is the American president or from what party he is from since all of them will stick to the status quo on foreign policies (preserving American "greatness") while also eroding the rights of not only Amer

    • Why is this so horrible? Several years ago, I planted some very nice dwarf irises, and they're doing well. We'd welcome the government people who want to come over and scan the cute little things when they're in full bloom. They'll be up some time in March, but of course we don't know when exactly. Maybe there's an email address we can write to about this? We'd be happy to notify them that our irises are up.

      If everyone cooperated with this, and with the government's help, we could flood the country wit

  • by iONiUM (530420) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:50PM (#33566240) Homepage Journal

    From deciding this is a great idea and putting it everywhere? They already fingerprint (foreigners), so iris scanning isn't really that far off. I won't bore you anymore with the slippery slope argument, I think we all know where this is going.

    I wonder what it'll take to rally the docile United States citizens to fight back. You guys have guns and shit, don't you? Maybe you should go confederate on the government's ass.

    • by blair1q (305137) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:54PM (#33566282) Journal

      They'll try.

      They'll get sued.

      The courts will see it as an invasion wherever it's an invasion, and as valid wherever it's valid, and will screw up the fringe cases that will become controversial until an apellate court gets it right or the Supreme Court does what the GOP chose them to do.

      This ain't America's first rodeo.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Right... because the courts have had a fantastic record of not screwing things up....

        The courts will probably rule that you have no expectation of your privacy when you are outside of your own home like they have ruled for just about everything else. Remember, this is the same court that allows warrant-less GPS devices to be placed on your cars. (http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-27/justice/oregon.gps.surveillance_1_gps-device-appeals-chief-judge-alex-kozinski?_s=PM:CRIME)

        The idea that courts will cle
        • by blair1q (305137)

          The courts will probably rule that you have no expectation of your privacy when you are outside of your own home like they have ruled for just about everything else. Remember, this is the same court that allows warrant-less GPS devices to be placed on your cars. (http://articles.cnn.com/2010-08-27/justice/oregon.gps.surveillance_1_gps-device-appeals-chief-judge-alex-kozinski?_s=PM:CRIME)

          That's because they're right. You don't have a right not to be followed around by the police, even if they do it sneakil

      • by formfeed (703859)
        I agree in principle. With one caveat however:
        Under Bush the Radiant, government argued -and the courts followed that to some extent- that constitutional rights are citizen rights not general human rights. (One of the reasonings why imprisonment without court decision is ok). Since Obama the Kenian follows his predecessor when it comes to law&order-crap, my guess is that the iris scan will be extended to residents that aren't citizens (green card holders). If that goes okay, it will be extended to c
        • by blair1q (305137)

          Obama the Kenian follows his predecessor when it comes to law&order

          I was listening until you went off into the generalistic weeds.

          Obama is not following Bush. He's trying to extricate the government from Bush's stupid choices on law without simultaneously removing its power to govern. In some cases Obama's justice department has followed the Bush course, intending the courts to decide against Bush's ideals. That leaves the case decided, since the Obama government won't appeal it the way the Bush gove

          • by formfeed (703859)

            In some cases Obama's justice department has followed the Bush course, intending the courts to decide against Bush's ideals.

            True. I give you that. And Obama is not another Bush. But your picture isn't accurate either. X-ray scanners came under Obama and the homeland/patriotism paranoia is still going on. To narrow my overly generalistic claim a bit: Obama accepts enough of the Bush era status quo, to put the US in a civil rights condition that wouldn't have been conceivable 10 years ago and that as long as it goes on, creates by itself a climate that makes it possible for things to worsen.

            • by blair1q (305137)

              The scanner issue is silly sensationalism that's gone overboard because nads are involved and the media have the maturity level of an adolescent. Flying on commercial transport is a choice, not a right. Meanwhile, the price of a small error in the air is hundreds of lives lost. If the idea that someone might see a grey outline of your nads while looking for weapons disgusts you, then stay on the ground. The idea of hundreds of people dying because some whackjob gets a box cutter onto a flight disgusts m

    • by guruevi (827432)

      Actually, they already do iris scanning for legal immigrants. You get your fingerprints (all 10) and iris scanned whenever you get your permanent residence card. I think the difference is that they're going to start iris scanning and fingerprinting illegal immigrants.

    • by pjt33 (739471)

      They scanned my iris in Houston airport back in 2005. At least, that's my understanding of why I had to take off my glasses and look a camera in the eye at very close range - and I think iris scanning is more advanced as a biometric than retina scanning. So I'm bemused as to what's new.

  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:51PM (#33566246)

    GAP Sign: Hello Mr. Yukkamoto and welcome back to the GAP!
    John Anderton: *Mr. Yukkamoto?*

  • Finally! The US government is putting technology to work for good in scanning flowers...I can only assume that it will be used for public art displays?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iris_(plant) [wikipedia.org]

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:53PM (#33566268)

    ...when the damn things are working, anyway!

    A few of our airports have them for inbound passengers, Gatwick in London being one of them.

    I found them quite useful to avoid the customs queues when I flew back into the UK but a lot of that is because so few other people registered to use them. It also took me three or four uses before I'd worked out the optimal positions to look into the mirrors, I would imagine that if a lot of people signed up to use them, it would be slower than going via a human customs officer.

    Plus, as I implied earlier, about 50% of the time they were Out Of Order anyway, so the benefits seem quite negligible.

    • The problems isn't with the merits of Irises vs Fingerprints it is simply scary that we even have a debate over it. I think we all know where this is heading, to a place with no economic and no civil freedoms because everything is tracked. The ability to choose anonymity is a vital part of freedom and the government has very few places to mandate the lack of anonymity for law-abiding, peaceful citizens.
      • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Monday September 13, 2010 @06:14PM (#33566528)

        I signed up for IRIS because holding an image of a scan of the back of my eye on a database somewhere seems far less intrusive or harmful than my fingerprints or DNA.

        Not that I have, or ever am likely to, commit a crime ever but an iris scan isn't going to put me at the scene of a crime or give much away to a private health insurance company looking for any excuse to up my premiums.

        Plus the fact that the Data Protection Act over here offers some protection, provided you understand what it does & doesn't do.

        • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday September 13, 2010 @06:23PM (#33566610)
          Yeah, the fact is, you shouldn't need to have any body parts scanned to do most activities it amazes me we somehow think its "normal" to be scanned when entering or exiting a country. These things are peaceful activities that cause no harm. Our xenophobia is taken to extremes lately. This idea that entering or exiting a country is considered to be hostile is laughable, especially since things like the "Terror Watch List", secret things that anyone could be on and be unable to leave the country because they are suspected "terrorists".
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by pandrijeczko (588093)

            It's voluntary here, at least for the moment - and the reason I signed up was a trade off between an iris image on a database somewhere and the ability to jump queues at immigration, I didn't (and still don't) consider the terrorist issue completely relevant.

            If I'm honest, I see the prevalence of (predominantly American) corporations gobbling up or destroying anything unique in this country as far more of a threat to the fabric of my society than a few Muslim loonies with bombs strapped to them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by vux984 (928602)

          Not that I have, or ever am likely to, commit a crime ever but an iris scan isn't going to put me at the scene of a crime or give much away to a private health insurance company looking for any excuse to up my premiums.

          You know what, that's actually pretty insightful. I'm against biometrics in general for government tracking, but you make a good point that an iris scan, unlike dna and fingerprints isn't something that you casually strew around everywhere you go.

          It does genuinely seem like one of the least e

          • Yes, but I guess identity theft is possible with just about any personal information held on a database.

            Plus I always find it amusing that many people who get paranoid about biometric data will still carry things like store loyalty cards that seem to do nothing more harmful than give purchase discounts.

            The big supermarkets here are looking to use RFID chips in their loyalty cards so not only do they already know about everything you buy & when you buy it, but where you are at any one moment in time.

            I ca

            • by vux984 (928602)

              Plus I always find it amusing that many people who get paranoid about biometric data will still carry things like store loyalty cards that seem to do nothing more harmful than give purchase discounts.

              A store loyalty card tracks why I buy at that store. It stops tracking me when I leave the store.

              They already have low tech measures (people) watching customers move the store to see what path they take, and how long they spend in each area, etc. Using technology to do this lets them do more people at once... b

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by pandrijeczko (588093)

                They already have low tech measures (people) watching customers move the store to see what path they take, and how long they spend in each area, etc. Using technology to do this lets them do more people at once... but I find it hard to get too offended about a store that wishes to track me and what I do on their own premises.

                A store that is big enough to give you a loyalty card has probably already done enough damage to your social environment - what about the small family-owned businesses that have been tr

                • by vux984 (928602)

                  A store that is big enough to give you a loyalty card has probably already done enough damage to your social environment

                  The independant car wash at the end of the street has a loyalty card. After I buy 10 washes I get the 11th free. Its integrated into their POS system and I assume they can do all sorts of data profiling to see which add-on options I bought, whether I got a snack or a coffee while I waited, how often I get a car wash, exterior only vs in-and-out vs full wax... whatever. I'm ok with that.

                  I t

                • by isorox (205688)

                  Here in the UK, we have a saying of "clone towns" where small businesses in town centres were trashed as a result of price-cutting out-of-town hypermarkets leaving a lot of empty properties that the big chain stores and theme bars could move into - thus many town centres in the UK look identical now.

                  Towns are dead, their main customers are the unemployed and old people, noone else has the time.

                  I got back from Holiday last week on Wednesday, about 8PM. Tesco was the only store open, so I went in and did a sm

  • At last, personalized mall marketing!

  • by countertrolling (1585477) on Monday September 13, 2010 @05:56PM (#33566312) Journal

    How many times have you heard of people leaving their iris prints on a doorknob, or wine glass, or a gun?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      People would be more likely to submit to the quicker and less invasive iris scans as part of a centralized tracking program in the name of, wait for it, "National Security."

      For example, it will start with mandatory scans for passports and airports, then all border crossings, then even bus and train stations and amusement parks, and where can they take it from there?
    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      How many people know that the technology is available to grab iris images from people from 10+ metres away, along with pictures for face recognition? Very convenient, but a little beyond what most people know about.
      • Source? Do you know the kind of optics challenge you've set for yourself by claiming iris scans can be done from 10m away? Really?

        -Target macro movement (walking, sitting, fidgeting, etc)
        -Target "micro" movement (blinking, eye darting, etc)
        -Optical angles (incidence, refraction)
        -Optical resolution (microns over meters)
    • What if you get Cheetos in your eye?

    • by Xarius (691264)

      How many people have close-up photos & videos of themselves scattered across facebook, flickr, youtube, etc?

  • As a US permanent resident, I get iris scanned and fingerprinted every time I enter the US. Or at least I thought that's what it was - I'm always asked to look into some scope with my right eye. This happens every fucking time. Now there's even a separate "permanent residents" line at Terminal 4 in JFK, and wouldn't you know it, it moves at a glacial speed. BTW, this country is seriously starting to suck.
  • Age of Minority Report?

    Well, at least not until they compile a database with everyone's confirmed identity and a gaggle of biometric data to go with it.

    (Don't you hate it when people answer their own question? I do.)

  • by Zerth (26112)

    If this is anything like retina scanning, they're just scanning the eye for 360(or a multiple of) arc samples and storing the average value, maybe 12 bits greyscale or 12 bits RGB.

    Consider the amount of variability(or lack thereof) of your iris. No zebra red/blue stripes.

    Consider how much your eyes look like your parents'/mailman's eyes.

    Consider how much the scanner fudges for head rotation and eye movement.

    What's the false positive rate?

  • Why can the DHS and the rest of the government spend so much money on fences and stuff but don't strike at the root of illegal immigration: The fact that legal immigration is full of problems. I really don't see any base for this xenophobia, if we wanted to get rid of illegal immigration, we should make legal immigration easy to do.

    It is a bit like the piracy debate, make it a pain to buy legitimate content and suddenly piracy is attractive. Make the legitimate content easier to buy and give no advantag
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Shakrai (717556) *

      Why can the DHS and the rest of the government spend so much money on fences and stuff but don't strike at the root of illegal immigration: The fact that legal immigration is full of problems.

      That's not the root of illegal immigration. The root of illegal immigration is the lack of enforcement of employment law. Make it impossible for illegal immigrants to work and the problem will solve itself without a fence.

      • The root of illegal immigration is the lack of enforcement of employment law.

        The root of illegal immigration is economic imbalance. More money and higher paying jobs exist in the US than exist in Mexico. Accordingly we should expect to see people migrating to where the economic opportunity happens to be. It's like osmosis - people will move in the direction of money an opportunity. Laws can do little more than slow the movement. Expecting people to obey the law when the alternative is abject poverty and possible starvation is absurd. We don't have a problem with Canadian's imm

        • by nbauman (624611)

          You're right as far as you go, but you're ignoring the role of NAFTA in destroying Mexico's economy.

          Government-subsidized U.S. farms destroyed the small Mexican corn farmers.

          The big U.S. electrical construction companies, with their monopoly powers and government subsidies, came down and out-competed Mexican electrical contractors. I met a Mexican electrical contractor who came to New York (legally) because he couldn't make a living in Mexico any more. He said they didn't take bids any more, they told you h

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        No, the root of illegal immigration is that the US is full of teh awsum and every other country in the world (but especially those south of the Rio Grande) are full of teh suck!

    • It is a bit like the piracy debate, make it a pain to buy legitimate content and suddenly piracy is attractive. Make the legitimate content easier to buy and give no advantage to piracy other than the price and then piracy isn't that big of a deal.

      The flaw in your logic is that it bears no relation to the real world. 99.99% of legitimate content can be trivially purchased at either your local big box store or your favorite online retailer. Yet it's pirated anyway.

      • by profplump (309017)

        A) I agree, many people pirate because they can. That's unfortunate, but nothing new. And that doesn't imply that if pirating were illegal they would buy things instead -- their budget for content is probably very similar with or without pirating. So without pirating people would just consume less unique content, or would consume more legitimately free content.

        B) Most of the stuff I pirate is *not* available in stores. I rarely pirate anything that I can buy. Occasionally I'll pirate something that is techn

  • Don't cut out my eyeball, bro!

  • Their eyes are too bloodshot!
  • s/illegal immigrants/illegal aliens/

    HTH!

  • Warning! Do not look directly into iris scanner with remaining good eye!

  • The quote says that the scanners will be used on illegal immigrants. They didn't say that it would be used in order to find illegal immigrants. If you already know that someone is an illegal immigrant then why bother with the scanning? Just send them back to where they came from.
  • but the TSA will be administering them rectally.

  • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:31PM (#33567784) Homepage

    ... used to enforce artificial boundaries. If we have the technology to make iris scanners, made with very delicate nanoscale components, doing immense amounts of pattern matching, hooked to a huge networked database, then we have enough technology to make a world of abundance for everyone, and essentially, there is no reason to restrict immigration anywhere in the world, and no need for wars over resources, etc. Something I wrote related to that:
        http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]

  • Ummm, how do you dust for irises?
  • Might as well mod the whole thread off-topic.

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