High-Tech Ids Planned For U.S. Government Workers
Following President Bush’s directive that federal employees use “smart card” technology as a means to boost security at federal buildings and on federal computer systems, employees will begin receiving the cards later this year. Smart cards contain a chip able to store 64 KB of information, such as digital fingerprints, a personal identification number, and other security features.
Employees would either show the card to guards at federal buildings or slide it through a reader, depending on the level of security, and accessing computer systems would require cards to be slid through a desktop reader. Computer access may also require fingerprint scans to ensure that users’ prints match prints stored on their smart cards.
Some critics of the system, such as National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelly, are concerned about lack of privacy with the possibility that employers could track employee movements through doors and to the restroom, though the government denies that the cards will be used to track workers.
Another concern is that President Bush’s directive rushes development of the technology, which relies on fingerprint data when other biometric technology is of higher quality, according to Sun Microsystems staff engineer Susan Landau.
Meanwhile, Center for Democracy and Technology executive director Ari Schwartz says the long-range privacy implications of the new technology are not clear, and argues that such issues should have been addressed earlier in the design process.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Associated Press (04/15/05); Manning, Stephen .