While I believe that biometric technology has many benefits, especially when it comes to simplifying our lives, I believe that commercializing it in a smartphone is a mistake – at least for now.
That being said, I’ll be honest with you in admitting that I’m not an early adopter. I never have been. And, with good reason. Why should I suffer through the testing phase and become a lab rat when other people voluntarily enlist themselves to do it? I rather wait until a product works the way it supposed to. Does that make me biased? Yes. Yes, it does. But, why don’t you keep reading and tell me if my line of reasoning is off? If my bias is any reason at all to discredit my argument.
Unlike passwords, which we manufacture through our brains and can change easily at any time, biometrics, by its very definition, is a permanent, unduplicated, “physical password,” that can identify one person out of the many billions who inhabit this world.
Ok, so why does this make a difference? Well, I’m glad you asked. The world today is more integrated than ever. The technologies we use to make our lives more simple and efficient come with a price. We are constantly susceptible to security intrusions which could compromise our identity. Of course, companies work really hard to build codes which blocks such attacks from happening. But, usually, these updates only come after a flaw is identified, making us susceptible to an attack in that window of time until the issue is finally resolved.
Let’s assume that our identity was compromised. Our credit cards, social security number, drivers license number, banking information. Let’s assume the hacker got so deep through our firewalls that they took every single piece of information about who we are. That sucks. It really does. But, you at least have options. You can call your bank and get them to issue you new cards. Call your government and have yourself issued a new social security number. Screw it. You can legally change your name if you really want to.
But, with biometrics you are completely screwed. You can’t buy yourself a new fingerprint. Our physical, non-duplicated, password is now in the hands of a hacker, who could use it unlawfully, and potentially incriminate us in the process. Imagine, hypothetically, hackers will be able to use our digital fingerprints to create a physical synthetic version that would then be applied onto gloves. I realize I’m talking hypotheticals here, but at this point, due to the fact that this technology has never been tested in such a way, even the farfetched scenarios are on the table.
Like I said before though, I’m not an early adopter. So, I will wait patiently. Watch from a distance. And reassess my options once I am given more proof that this technology has ironed out the wrinkles.
My advice to you is this: Caveat Emptor. Which in Latin stands for buyer beware.