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.
Not only is there zero connection between the two, but any biometrics protagonist would run away screaming from any such inference.
As a time-and-attendance system, biometrics is used for two reasons. Firstly to improve the certainty that the person clocking on (or off) really IS the person clocking on (or off).
Secondly to speed up the process (both of the actual clock on/off and of the back-end systems).
Many ask, "How quickly will my information end up with the Police (or other authorities)? The surly answer is, "As quickly as by any other means!"
There is nothing special about biometric data that allows it to circumvent all of this country's privacy and data protection legislation. In fact, with the special attention of state and federal privacy officials, any circumvention is much tougher than most other forms of data.
For instance, readers might wish to speculate about the ease with which the authorities can access video surveillance footage of just about any crime.
Hint: there is nothing special about biometric data - it is subject to the same privacy laws as every other kind of personal data (and a whole lot more special focus!)
Thus it is very obvious that a simple 'picture' of the previously captured reference image (be it a voice, face, iris, fingerprint or vein pattern) is simply not sufficient for long-term (potentially inaccurate) matching - there is a huge need for smart fuzziness in the system. Not only do people get very blasÃ© about the way they present their finger, hand, face etc, but these bearers of biometric uniqueness change over time (do you *really* look like your 8-year-old passport photo? Be honest here!).
In summary, once (easily offered and proven) guarantees of non-sharing of biometric data are given by companies, there is much to gain and very little to lose from such systems.
As this writer was heard to utter on a number of occasions... "give passwords the finger!"