A false picture of security

The possible need for biometric identification is well illustrated by Shanin Paige Leeming`s junior high school science project--"Picture ID: Help or Hindrance?" Shanin, of Merritt Island, FL, followed the time-honored scientific methodology of using her mother as a guinea pig. Dressed in a series of disguises, but using her own picture ID, the senior Ms. Paige was able to purchase wine, cash a check, and even have her signature notarized (see photos).

A false picture of security

Stephen j. matthews

The possible need for biometric identification is well illustrated by Shanin Paige Leeming`s junior high school science project--"Picture ID: Help or Hindrance?" Shanin, of Merritt Island, FL, followed the time-honored scientific methodology of using her mother as a guinea pig. Dressed in a series of disguises, but using her own picture ID, the senior Ms. Paige was able to purchase wine, cash a check, and even have her signature notarized (see photos).

Shanin (and Mom) be came bolder with each successful transaction, choos ing increasingly outlandish costumes. The young sociologist noted, "As my project progressed, I quickly realized that it did not matter how outrageous my alterations got... be cause no one took any notice of [my Mom`s] appearance at all." At one point Ms. Paige was able to cash a check while disguised as a man. In Shanin`s words, "If people are not really check ing the picture against the appear ance of the person standing in front of them, then is it possible that we are putting too much faith in this whole system?"

It is ironic that the outcome of Shanin`s experiment would have been the same if biometric verification had been used, as many of the systems would have recognized her mother through her disguises and approved her transactions.

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