Friday, September 11, 2009

Arguing the case for 666

As technology advances, most of us are faced with a bewildering number of IDs and passwords that must be remembered in order to access such important things as our internet account, our email, our online banking, our VOIP service, our laptops, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, the human brain is not perfect and, especially as we age, it's prone to forgetting some very important things, including passwords.

As a result of the limitations of our memory, many people opt for simple, easy to remember passwords that can often be trivial to crack.

Even worse, some folks simply choose a single password for all their authentication activities. This means that if their password is compromised, it becomes possible for any evil little sod to assume their identity across a wide range of services.

So what is the solution to this problem?

How can we use technology to provide a universal authentication system that can prove a person's identity and thus restrict access only to those who are properly authorised to access a service?

And how could such an authentication system extend beyond the virtual world into the real one?

Already most of us have to carry multiple forms of ID. We have a driver's licence, passport, credit-card, FlyBuys and any number of other authentication documents. Surely it would make sense to do away with all this unnecessary duplication and switch to a universal identifier?

Biometrics are one option but have proven to be less reliable and more easily duped than proponents had hoped, thus compromising their practical application.

So what about an embedded RFID chip?

It works for cats, dogs and palm trees so why not for humans?

Already some nightclubs have experimented with such things, allowing members or VIP patrons to gain free access and have drinks automatically debited to their accounts without the need to present any other form of ID.

If we were all to have an RFID chip embedded in a part of our bodies that was not vulnerable to unauthorised scanning, we could leave all those other documents at home. No longer would you have to worry about being fined for failure to carry your license when stopped at a checkpoint while driving down to the beach for a late-evening swim in mid-summer, wearing just your togs and a towel.

Even better, you could authorise any transaction (online or real-world) by simply placing your hand on an RFID energising pad.

Imagine how much efficiency this would add to such mundane things as buying your groceries. No longer would you need wait for the old lady in front of you who is confused about which way to swipe her card or who can't remember her PIN.

It would also provide the universal identifier and authentication sought-after by governments for the safe use of their e-services.

As people, we already carry the universal marks of vaccinations on our shoulders and have already yielded to the pressure to adopt such Orwellian mechanisms as electronic passports, so why not take the next logical step and go for RFID chip implants?

Would the benefits outweight the concerns?

Would the savings outweight the costs in terms of privacy and human rights?

We have the technology, all we need is the resolve.

Or, would this be seen as validation of the Bible's predictions and considered "the mark of the beast" by too many people?

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