Big Databases in the Sky – US and AUS

Monday, August 28, 2006, By Griff Witte, "Unlocking Fingerprints", Washington Post

Plan for Enhanced Federal IDs Could Open Door to a Biometrics Boom

The technology has been the stuff of movies for years: A secret agent runs his fingertip and an encrypted ID card over a pair of sensors. There’s a match, and the door swings open.

In the coming months, a wave of government initiatives could start making such high-tech methods of identification commonplace — beginning with the replacement this fall of federal employee IDs. Similar cards are planned for transportation workers, first responders and visitors to the United States.

Packed with biometric data such as fingerprints and containing a computer chip with room to expand the amount of information stored, the new IDs represent a potential boon to technology companies eyeing an estimated $8 billion in identity-related contracts. Firms such as BearingPoint Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. have set up showcase identity labs, pulling technology from different companies into turnkey operations. Hundreds of smaller companies, down to manufacturers of plastic cards, are vying for part of the market.

The biggest business opportunity still looms: Driver’s licenses, which are due for a retooling under new federal laws.

"When you’re talking about credentialing the federal workforce and contractors, you’re talking about maybe 10 million people. When you’re talking first responders, you’re at 20, 30 or 40 million people," said Thomas Greco, a vice president at Herndon-based Cybertrust Inc. "But when you’re talking credentialing all registered drivers in the United States, you’re up to hundreds of millions of people. Nobody is losing sight of that."

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Meanwhile…

Monday 28th August 2006, "Oz ID card database racked by identity fraud claims", By OUT-LAW.COM

Australia’s identity card system was routinely searched for personal reasons by government agency employees, some of whom have been sacked.

Police are now investigating allegations of identity fraud resulting from the security breaches.

There were 790 security breaches at government agency Centrepoint involving 600 staff. Staff were found to have inappropriately accessed databases containing citizens’ information. The databases are part of a massive federal Government smart card project which will link medical, welfare, tax and other personal data on Australia’s 17m citizens.

In total, 19 Centrepoint employees have been sacked and 92 others have resigned. Police are conducting investigations into five employees, they said.