Fwd: **Toronto Star: Risk to privacy

Bonnie Briggs (s248_1132@hotmail.com)
Mon, 25 Oct 1999 10:25:39 PDT


General
Hi gang,
  This is the latest scheme cooked up by our "wonderful" Provincial (State) 
Government. I guess privacy is obsolete now. They say it's about combating 
fraud, but we all know it's really about keeping track of us and robbing us 
of our identity and our privacy. It is also about a lack of trust in people 
on welfare and about suspecting them of cheating when all they're doing is 
trying to survive. I guess they figure if you're on welfare, you're not 
adult enough to look after yourself. Are any of you going through this in 
the States?
Bonnie
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>
>Toronto Star   -   October 24, 1999
>
>
>Editorial
>
>Risk to privacy
>
>
>Like most of the ideas in this week's Throne Speech, the promise of a 
>``smart
>card'' to ``improve efficiency and reduce fraud'' is recycled.
>
>Gadget freaks might like these information-loaded pieces of plastic, but 
>they
>also represent the dark side of the information revolution, a leap toward 
>what
>federal Privacy Commissioner Bruce Phillips called ``an internal 
>passport.''
>
>As he said, ``Detecting and preventing misappropriation of public funds is 
>a
>worthy cause but not one that justifies putting citizens in electronic
>straitjackets.''
>
>He was writing of SINs - or Social Insurance Numbers.
>
>But Ontario's ``smart card'' - which would include your driver's licence,
>health card, birth certificate, fishing and hunting licence - is a similar
>all-purpose identity card. It would quickly be linked to a federal SIN 
>number -
>the open sesame to our private lives.
>
>Technically, these new cards are a marvel. They use digitized personal 
>images
>so the holder can be identified by a fingerprint or an image of the iris or
>retina. It's hard to use a stolen retina.
>
>But, even now, it's getting easier to fool a smart card. Hackers have 
>already
>learned to ``spoof'' digitized personal ``biometrics,'' as they're called, 
>and
>fool the scanners. They'll get better at it.
>
>Ontario already has an example of what happens with smart cards. Welfare 
>cards
>are embedded with digitized fingerprints, Two supermarkets were demanding
>fingerprints to cash cheques until they were ordered to stop.
>
>Welfare is linked to SINs. So is workers' compensation. So are students 
>linked
>by loans not just to their SINs but their parents' income tax records as 
>well.
>
>Sooner or later, DNA will wind up on these cards. And when it does, what
>insurance company wouldn't want to know of a heightened genetic risk of 
>breast
>cancer or Alzheimer's?
>
>As for police, the innocent should not worry - except that 400 Albertans 
>who
>gave DNA to help the RCMP couldn't find out if the samples were destroyed 
>when
>the criminal was caught.
>
>There are privacy issues here bigger than any before. But you wouldn't know 
>it
>from the Throne Speech. Privacy was absent.
>
>What is needed before we proceed further with a project of dubious benefit 
>and
>manifest risk?
>
>Since the government hasn't, Provincial Information and Privacy 
>Commissioner
>Ann Cavoukian should take up the issue.
>
>The government, know it or not, needs advice on the state of Ontario's 
>privacy
>laws - untouched in any meaningful way since Harris came to power. She 
>needs to
>point out holes that need filling if smart cards lie ahead.
>
>She'd help even more by telling us if this costly bean-counter's toy is 
>even
>worth developing.
>
>We don't think it is. As of now, we know only that a Big Brother even 
>smarter
>than Orwell's is getting a standing invitation - embedded on a smart card - 
>to
>share with us, like family, all those little things we thought were 
>personal.

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