Making fingerprints less useful
Bruce Schneier approvingly calls it “political activism.”
I think it’s a stark reminder that some biometrics- such as a person’s fingerprints- are reasonably easy to get. And, once compromised, the person can’t ring up a help desk and get a new one (like they can passwords).
The current story revolves around Germany’s interior minister, Wolfgang Schauble. He is apparently quite vocal about collecting and using biometrics to fight terrorism, including storing them in ePassports.
In the most recent issue of Die Datenschleuder, activists under the name of Chaos Computer Club (“Europe’s largest hacker group”) printed the image of, what they claim, is the fingerprint of his index finger.
The fingerprint, on a plastic foil that leaves fingerprints when it is pressed against biometric readers, is included in the 4,000 copies of the latest issue of the magazine. Schauble’s fingerprint was said to be captured off a water glass he used last summer while participating in a public discussion at a University in Berlin.
If a person’s fingerprints are “in the wild” then they are a far less reliable way to authenticate the person for his/her whole life. If enough fingerprints are similarly widely available- whether by accident or deliberately- it will be enough to make fingerprinting almost useless.