Home opinion-and-analysis Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Too many people refuse to get it - Biometrics is not the same as DNA

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I was totally flabbergasted at today's news that Monash City Council was receiving resistance to a simple biometric application for time-and-attendance monitoring.  Wake up people, this stuff has been around for well over ten years.

On this morning's AM radio show on ABC radio, I was astonished to hear that there was resistance to a plan to introduce vein scanning (one of many possible biometric systems) as a time-and-attendance system into Monash City Council's libraries.

According to ABC reporter Sue Lannin, "Biometric technology like iris fingerprint and vein scanning is big in the movies and it's set to come to a workplace near you soon."

No, that's a lay-person's mistake, I don't recall EVER seeing vein recognition in the movies; it's a great segue, but almost certainly not true.

Lannin continues, "More and more employers are using the technology for rosters to make sure their workers clock on and clock off when they are meant to." 

Yes, that's true (assuming she's referring to biometrics in general).  In this writer's personal experience, such systems have been in use for at least a decade.  Most Woolworth's stores and a good number of registered clubs in NSW have used fingerprint systems for time-and-attendance for at least that long (the nicotine stains on the readers are a clear indicator of their longevity!).  There are probably many others.

Later today, we read that "Monash City Council would require library staff to provide DNA samples in order to scan workers' veins using pattern recognition technology when they clock on and off for a shift."

Thus we have an excellent example of news being delivered to us by stupid people.

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David Heath

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David Heath has over 25 years experience in the IT industry, specializing particularly in customer support, security and computer networking. Heath has worked previously as head of IT for The Television Shopping Network, as the network and desktop manager for Armstrong Jones (a major funds management organization) and has consulted into various Australian federal government agencies (including the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence). He has also served on various state, national and international committees for Novell Users International; he was also the organising chairman for the 1994 Novell Users' Conference in Brisbane. Heath is currently employed as an Instructional Designer, building technical training courses for industrial process control systems.

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