Privacy Issues Surrounding Biometric Technology

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have provoked in-depth discussion and study of existing security measures, their deficiencies, and how to enhance security to prevent similar terrorist attacks from occurring in the future. Biometric technology has risen to the top of the list as a possible solution. The government is not the only entity exploring biometric security systems. The financial services industry see biometrics as a way to curb identity theft. Biometrics are intrinsic physical characteristics used to identify individuals. The most commonly used biometric is fingerprints but others include, handprints, facial features, iris & retinal scans, and voice recognition.

Soon after 9/11 there were calls for the issuance of national ID cards containing biometric information on an RFID chip implanted on the card. The argument is that national ID cards will increase security by identifying individuals with their unique fingerprints which are much more difficult to counterfeit than standard photo ID cards. There is also a movement toward biometric passports. It looks like biometric passports are coming soon. National ID cards may follow.

Biometric identification is nothing new. Humans have been identifying other humans biometrically since the beginning of time. You recognize people you know by their facial features, their voice, and other biometric features. What’s new is introducing technology into the mix that compares a given biometric with a stored database of biometrics to verify the identity of an individual. An individual place their finger on a fingerprint scanner and the image is compared with the database to verify the person’s identity. Promising as it is, biometric technology has not been without hiccups but biometrics are advancing quickly and becoming more and more prevalent in security systems.

Fingerprints are the most commonly used biometric identifiers. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a study that showed single fingerprint biometric systems had a 98.6 percent accuracy rate. The accuracy rate rose to 99.6 percent when 2 fingerprints were used and an almost perfect 99.9 percent when 4 or more fingerprints were used. The study results show that biometric identification is nearly perfect which is not surprising given the uniqueness of human fingerprints.

The US-VISIT program, which is an acronym for United States Visitor & Immigrant Status Indicator Technology, currently requires foreign visitors to the US to present a biometric passport containing 2 fingerprints and a digital photo for identification purposes before being granted admission to the U.S. Of course the biometrics are compared against a vast network of government databases full of known and suspected terrorists and other criminals.

On the surface biometric technology may sound like a panacea but it’s use has raised significant privacy concerns that need to be addressed. Here are six major privacy concerns: storage, vulnerability, confidence, authenticity, linking, and ubiquity.

Critics wonder how the data will be stored and how vulnerable it will be to theft or abuse. Confidence issues center around the implications of false positives and false negatives. Can the biometric data be used to link to other information about the individual such as marital status, religion, employment status, etc.? And finally ubiquity. What are the implications of leaving electronic “bread crumbs” to mark a trail detailing every movement an individual makes?

Until these issues are addressed, privacy advocates will lead a charge to resist biometric technology claiming it as a way for the government to assume a “Big Brother” type of rule as described in George Orwell’s novel 1984. But protest as they may, it’s likely national security concerns and the ability of biometric systems to enhance the security of US border and possibly prevent another major terrorist attack will win out over privacy concerns.

Whip Yourself into Shape with Boxing Fitness

Everyone seems to be concerned with their health these days. And with good reason, since the advent of processed foods and the degree of pollution in our cities, people's health can really be in danger. To help combat these problems, health improvement facilities like gyms and spas have popped up on every street. But since traditional exercises are not really enjoyable many people prefer activities that allow them to have fun while keeping fit.

Hiking, ballroom dancing, rock climbing, and cycling are just a few examples of recreational activities that can also be enjoyable. Sports, weight training, and martial arts have also become popular ways of trimming down. One type of martial art type of exercise program which you might want to try is boxing fitness.

You might think of boxing as a violent sport. Professional boxing as seen in television is a dangerous sport reserved for athletes who train extensively to get in shape for their bouts. But unknown to most it can also be a satisfying and effective form of workout.

Boxing fitness involves hours of diligent training, cardio workout out and can even teach you additional self-defense. Boxing fitness improves your flexibility, agility, stamina and coordination. You do not need to have to go as far as fighting in the ring but a little sparring mixed in your routine can make for a fantastic workout.

Besides being a lot of fun boxing fitness also improves your self-defense skills. One look at professional boxers shows you that training allows you to withstand punishment and give back as much as well. Today's world can be quite dangerous and learning a practical martial art like boxing can really be useful. While you might not turn into the next Mike Tyson you can be good enough to keep your self safe on the street.

If you want to try it you can try local gyms to see if they have a boxing fitness program. If none are available you can hop online and do a search for "boxing fitness" to find a program and gym that are convenient for you. Put on those boxing gloves now and punch your way into an exciting way to be healthy.

How Loud Does a Working Environment Have to Be to Require Ear Defenders?

Those who work in a noisy environment can often find that they are subject to more that the simple rigours of working life. People who find themselves subjected to loud working conditions can often fall victim to hearing conditions, in both the short and the long term. To combat this, many regulations exist designed to encourage the use of hearing protection in such conditions. But attempting to figure out the volume limits is tough, and it can be hard to tell when a workplace moves beyond simply loud into the realm of too loud.

Whilst we often subject ourselves to loud noises for pleasure, during sporting events and rock concerts, finding yourself in a loud working environment can be a little different. As you will likely be spending a large portion of your working life in the same conditions, the measures taken to prevent hearing damage should be strenuous. The most common solution for those who find themselves subject to such conditions is to wear ear defenders. Worn over the outer ear, these devices are available in a number of colours and designs. Should they be required in the work place, your employer should be able to equip you with the right protection.

While many companies are aware of the high volume of the environment and will require you to wear protection, it might simply be a recommended practice in others. To determine whether the protection is necessary, ask yourself several questions:

Does the noise seem intrusive?

Do you need to raise your voice to talk to another person?

Are you part of an industry which is known for loud working conditions, such as construction or manufacturing?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then it is likely that further steps may need to be taken. From a quantifiable standpoint, the volume levels are often measured and provisions are taken according to decibel measurements. At 80dB, employers are required to provide training and instruction on how to reduce risk, and need to make protective measures available. Those workplaces which are frequently subject to 85dB are expected to take measures to reduce exposure to loud noises and if the measures are unable to have an effect, then hearing protection is required. Any environment above 87dB is considered something to which an employee should not be exposed, taking into account protective measures.

If you find yourself at risk of hearing damage or are beginning to experience difficulty, it is recommended that you talk to your employer in order to reduce the exposure to loud working conditions.

Jewelry Shopping

My cousin who I hardly see maybe about once a year wants jewelery from me for her sixteenth birthday. We've got a quirky little relationship. Unlike my sister, who I've been at war with since she was born, the dynamic with my younger cousin is more affable. We get on. I'd never get my sister jewelry – far too weird. But somehow for a cousin like her, it feels both big brotherly and friendly.

So I'm working through mental pictures to try and remember what kind of jewelry she wears, as I figure there could be some sort of theme, color, and material concurrent to her tastes. Or are they just random? Would anything do? Buying jewelry I am discovering taking takes reasonable time and mental effort, not to mention empathy (or is it sympathy?) And some other types of emotional engagement that I do not know the words for.

Ok, so a diamond ring might be a bit too much, but then again I do not want to just get some plain accessories. A bracelet perhaps? A sparkly bracelet? I'm trying to think how many different types of jewelry there actually are out there. I guess it's limited by the imagination. There's so many innovations in design and beauty wear it's hard to keep track unless you read the fashion supplements in Sunday newspapers.

Though even fashion is hardly a guide. I guess looking at what jewelry to buy online may help. Some of the jewelry shopping web sites are overwhelming with regard to the range of jewelry to buy on the Internet.

It's hard to tell what's retro and what's just new anyway. What's in one week can be out the next and then the week after it's back in again but on a white gold chain or something.

I try a new tack on choosing what jewelry to buy online for my cousin. I guess she'd be happy whatever I bought as she's the type who appreciates the 'thought that counts.' But she'll probably also want something nice; some kind of awkward politeness is not the response that would encourage me to buy jewelry online for friends or family again.

What's her favorite color? I'm not sure if she has a favorite color – at least one that does not change week to week. Maybe a multi-colored necklace? Then again, I quite fancy that she'd love a brooch. Brooches look great. I think. Yes she'd quite like a brooch.

It's so easy to look at brooches online, or bracelets, necklaces, rings. Prices, sizes and types all in convenient little lists that you can scroll through. Given that in jewelry shop most of the stuff is sealed behind reinforced security glass it is not much different to looking at jewelry on a web page.

I see a nice looking brooch online. Studded with green and blue gems. It's not too loud but looks both quirky and timeless, in a modest kind of way. It's subtle. Not quite like my cousin but they do say opposites attract.