Monday, June 22, 2009

Clear is dead. What about my retinal scans?

I signed up to Clear about 18 months ago. Theoretically, I would get through airport security lanes faster. It involved a registration, fingerprinting and retinal scans. I pretty quickly realized that it was a waste of my money when the people in the "normal" security lines were getting through faster than me. In addition, why was their first question when I showed up to their line "Can I see your drivers license please?"

I let the card expire and for the last two months Clear has been hounding me multiple times a week to renew. Yesterday, I finally told them to stop sending me e-mails and this was their response (above). I guess I got my wish.

Now my question is: What happens to those digital fingerprints and retinal scans they took? Checking their privacy policy reveals this interesting tidbit:
...a copy of your biometric information (but not your name) is retained by the Transportation Security Clearinghouse to prevent fraudulent enrollments under alternate identities.

So, the TSA has my biometric information but not my name in order to prevent fraudulent enrollments under alternate identities? Hmmm, does that mean that the TSA has my biometric information but not my name but does have my social security number? Otherwise, how would they prevent fraudulent enrollments?

Generally speaking I care about this. Specifically, for me, I don't because I've been fingerprinted many, many times by the US government already. (No, I'm not a criminal - I'm an immigrant!)

How much biometric detritus is floating around about me out there? About you?

Follow-up: See Kevin Kampman's (Burton Group) post on this topic here.

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1 comment:

Jeffrey Huth said...

You are asking a good question. I wonder however, what is really the issue with biometric information over anything else? I would be more concerned with other personally identifiable information. In that case companies come and go all the time with your non-biometric data left behind. Is it a cultural sensitivity thing? Are we comfortable giving out name, addy, phone, age, SSN, and leaving it behind because we are used to doing it and not used to our fingerprint being left behind? Really, your biometric is almost worthless because it is in a form that pretty much can't be reused for anything. Even if someone could clone your Clear card they wouldn't be able to create a fake finger.

Also I wonder if we would be more or less concerned knowing the Transportation Security Clearinghouse is not really the TSA and not really the government...