Privacy Issues Surrounding Biometric Technology

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have provoked in-depth discussion and study of existing security measures, their deficiencies, and how to enhance security to prevent similar terrorist attacks from occurring in the future. Biometric technology has risen to the top of the list as a possible solution. The government is not the only entity exploring biometric security systems. The financial services industry see biometrics as a way to curb identity theft. Biometrics are intrinsic physical characteristics used to identify individuals. The most commonly used biometric is fingerprints but others include, handprints, facial features, iris & retinal scans, and voice recognition.

Soon after 9/11 there were calls for the issuance of national ID cards containing biometric information on an RFID chip implanted on the card. The argument is that national ID cards will increase security by identifying individuals with their unique fingerprints which are much more difficult to counterfeit than standard photo ID cards. There is also a movement toward biometric passports. It looks like biometric passports are coming soon. National ID cards may follow.

Biometric identification is nothing new. Humans have been identifying other humans biometrically since the beginning of time. You recognize people you know by their facial features, their voice, and other biometric features. What’s new is introducing technology into the mix that compares a given biometric with a stored database of biometrics to verify the identity of an individual. An individual place their finger on a fingerprint scanner and the image is compared with the database to verify the person’s identity. Promising as it is, biometric technology has not been without hiccups but biometrics are advancing quickly and becoming more and more prevalent in security systems.

Fingerprints are the most commonly used biometric identifiers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a study that showed single fingerprint biometric systems had a 98.6 percent accuracy rate. The accuracy rate rose to 99.6 percent when 2 fingerprints were used and an almost perfect 99.9 percent when 4 or more fingerprints were used. The study results show that biometric identification is nearly perfect which is not surprising given the uniqueness of human fingerprints.

The US-VISIT program, which is an acronym for United States Visitor & Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, currently requires foreign visitors to the US to present a biometric passport containing 2 fingerprints and a digital photo for identification purposes before being granted admission to the U.S. Of course the biometrics are compared against a vast network of government databases full of known and suspected terrorists and other criminals.

On the surface biometric technology may sound like a panacea but it’s use has raised significant privacy concerns that need to be addressed. Here are six major privacy concerns: storage, vulnerability, confidence, authenticity, linking, and ubiquity.

Critics wonder how the data will be stored and how vulnerable it will be to theft or abuse. Confidence issues center around the implications of false positives and false negatives. Can the biometric data be used to link to other information about the individual such as marital status, religion, employment status, etc.? And finally ubiquity. What are the implications of leaving electronic “bread crumbs” to mark a trail detailing every movement an individual makes?

Until these issues are addressed, privacy advocates will lead a charge to resist biometric technology claiming it as a way for the government to assume a “Big Brother” type of rule as described in George Orwell’s novel 1984. But protest as they may, it’s likely national security concerns and the ability of biometric systems to enhance the security of US border and possibly prevent another major terrorist attack will win out over privacy concerns.

Why Do We Need Personal Development to Be Successful?

In order to really answer that, we need to define what we mean by personal development. In my opinion, personal development is:

  • Growth as a conscious human being
  • Activities that improve self-knowledge and identity
  • Development of talents and potential
  • Development in different areas of life
  • Building of human capital and employability
  • Enhancing the quality of life
  • Contributing to the realization of dreams and aspirations
  • Is not limited to self-development but includes formal and informal activities for developing others
  • In the context of institutions, it reflects to the methods, programs, tools, techniques, and assessment systems that support human development at the individual level in organizations
  • (hard) work that requires discipline, determination, consistency, patience, time, courage, forgiveness

Let's then take a closer look at some of these bullet points in correlation to success.

Improving your self-knowledge and identity means, among other things, that you become more aware of who you are and what you want. Knowing what you want and where you need to improve yourself in order to achieve what you want are essential parts of success.

If you have already achieved success you can not stay put if you want to remain successful. The world and other people around you are constantly evolving; therefore you need to keep on developing your talents and potential further. Otherwise your success will remain short term.

Depending on your goals, you need constant development in different areas of your life, not just in one. Some of these areas may include health, finances, relationships, emotions, habits and beliefs, to mention a few. A good health will ensure that you are able to do what you want to do. It is obvious that you can do a lot more as a healthy person than you would lying sick on a bed. It is obvious, in most cases, that you can achieve more and free yourself from some of the worries when your financial situation is stable. It is obvious that you can achieve more when you have sound relationships with supporting and loving people to back you up. And so on.

Having activities for developing others, in addition to developing yourself, is really what gives you the final boost for success. The old saying "what goes around, comes around" applies here quite well. Helping other people succeed will ensure that they will willingly help you in return. It is much, much more difficult – and in most cases even impossible – to achieve success just by yourself. You can not be the master of everything. And you should not even try to be. Concentrate on doing well what you love doing and let other people help you in the areas that they love doing. Help others develop themselves and they will help you develop yourself. That is for everyone's benefit.

Finally, understand that long lasting success requires work. At times, it can even seem to require hard work. But once you have found what it is that you really love doing, the work does not seem that hard anymore. But it will require discipline, so that you keep your focus on your goals. It will require determination because there will be a lot of people who'll try to talk you out of your dream. It will require consistency because you will encounter many obstacles along the way and you'll have to be consistent to work your way through and around them. It will require patience because the bigger your dream, the more it will take time. It will require courage because you will move toward something that is unknown to you. And, maybe most of all, it will require forgiveness because you will have to forgive yourself for all the mistakes you have made, and will make, and you must also forgive others who have hurt you, so you can move into the future with a clean slate.

And that is all part of the road to success.

Written by Hannu Pirila, CEO and Founder of HPA Consulting, one of the leading Personal Development and NLP Coaches in Finland.

How Loud Does a Working Environment Have to Be to Require Ear Defenders?

Those who work in a noisy environment can often find that they are subject to more that the simple rigours of working life. People who find themselves subjected to loud working conditions can often fall victim to hearing conditions, in both the short and the long term. To combat this, many regulations exist designed to encourage the use of hearing protection in such conditions. But attempting to figure out the volume limits is tough, and it can be hard to tell when a workplace moves beyond simply loud into the realm of too loud.

Whilst we often subject ourselves to loud noises for pleasure, during sporting events and rock concerts, finding yourself in a loud working environment can be a little different. As you will likely be spending a large portion of your working life in the same conditions, the measures taken to prevent hearing damage should be strenuous. The most common solution for those who find themselves subject to such conditions is to wear ear defenders. Worn over the outer ear, these devices are available in a number of colours and designs. Should they be required in the work place, your employer should be able to equip you with the right protection.

While many companies are aware of the high volume of the environment and will require you to wear protection, it might simply be a recommended practice in others. To determine whether the protection is necessary, ask yourself several questions:

Does the noise seem intrusive?

Do you need to raise your voice to talk to another person?

Are you part of an industry which is known for loud working conditions, such as construction or manufacturing?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then it is likely that further steps may need to be taken. From a quantifiable standpoint, the volume levels are often measured and provisions are taken according to decibel measurements. At 80dB, employers are required to provide training and instruction on how to reduce risk, and need to make protective measures available. Those workplaces which are frequently subject to 85dB are expected to take measures to reduce exposure to loud noises and if the measures are unable to have an effect, then hearing protection is required. Any environment above 87dB is considered something to which an employee should not be exposed, taking into account protective measures.

If you find yourself at risk of hearing damage or are beginning to experience difficulty, it is recommended that you talk to your employer in order to reduce the exposure to loud working conditions.