At the start of the second world war some people in Amsterdam realized that the Nazi’s that would prosecute the jews in Holland, would find it very easy to locate them using the city register. So the resistance decided to torch the archive located in Artis.
This act, which was only partially succesfull, illustrates a risk in information gathered on people. We have written here before about the eugenic aspect of big data gathering. The most important point is that there are people who want to improve the genepool by causing deaths, and those that want to do so by preventing lives. The first want to restrict medical care to unsuccesfull people, keep them poor and use them to sell stuff to that is harmfull (like drugs, sigarets, fatty food etc.) The latter wants to educate all individuals equally, hoping that this will cause women to control their lives better, reducing childbirths (as is seen in developed countries) and increasing overal population health and prosperity. We belong to this last group.
As we can see in the US at the moment, ignorance, years of undermining education and bad influence projected by the republicans is now resulting in a voter population that will allow itself to be lied to and swayed by the weakest and most infantile of arguments and individuals, Donald Trump. He banks on the golden rule of “Catch me if you can” : People only know what you tell them.
Now as we can see Donald is not mild against his opponents, and as we can see many dictators in the history of the western world have used every means available to find and disable opponents, how can we allow there to be databases which can assist in our definitive identification as individuals. We may be the suppressed majority, as was the case in Chile, Russia under stalin and communism, East Germany, Zimbabwe, Egypt to a large extent, etc. etc. etc. The examples are endless.
Many leaders wish or have to be tirants, and hard biometric data enables them
Even in Holland, where one can feel pretty safe, the close ties of the right political groups with the US, their weakness when it comes to datasharing and privacy (as opposed to Germany and Russia that do not want alien control over data and privacy information), means that even here one can not be certain to be safe from the abuse of information by unofficial or covert groups. This is the paranoid, but completely vindicated view of what goes on in the world. As long as everybody is happy there is no risk, but come trouble the attitude of some may change, and then the data is there.
Hard and Soft Biometrics
If you photograph an iris, that counts as a hard biometric datapoint. Companies like Citylens do that. Do they share that data? Will they be used as a data source in the future? Fingerprints are another example. You can barely remove them. A lot of other aspects of our person can be recorded that be used at any time to make an exact determination on who we are dealing with. This kind of biometrics should always remain in the hands of the individual, never in the hands of a government. This should be the goal. The biometric data held by the individual in a passport or should be tied to a number in the government systems, and that number should be the only way to identify the individual. Maybe additional data can be revealed if the individual shares a password.
Disappeared opponents under Pinochet..
The above scheme would constitute a soft biometric system can not be abused by a rogue government, because the individual will destroy his document and the id number does not reveal any aspect of his person. This way the cooperation with the government remains voluntary, which it is assumed to be, after all, people vote for it, or against it. That choice would be denied if the government could force itself on the individual, even when none of the voters agrees with its actions any longer.
An example of soft biometrics is a now existing blockchain database of diamonds in trade. It is created to protect the diamond business against the growing number of artificially grown diamonds, which are hard to tell apart from real ones. The system stores the id of the diamonds using an american system of characterization. The aspects of the diamond itself are translated to a number, a code, known by the US agency. This means that if all the data of that agency is destroyed the meaning of the number is lost and diamonds can no longer be identified or given their provenance. To inject artificial diamonds in the world trade one would have to do that. But what if there was a way to characterize a diamond in a number that would always work, be easily repeated (like taking a picture of an iris). That number stored in a distributed data system like a blockchain would mean that the diamonds in it would always be found, artificial diamonds either excluded or injected as the keepers of these records saw fit. Total control over the world market for ever. That is the risk of hard biometrics.
We see companies form and fail constantly, and this is a normal thing in the economy, but what about governments? They should form and fail as the situation changes. Brexit shows that conservatives needed a shakeup, UKIP ran its course, Boris Johnson had to leave and give Gove an excuse to fail and leave. This type of flexibility may not serve the public, but is necessary for governments to respond to reality. Similarly voting citizen have to be allowed to move and change their minds. This means it has to be impossible to coerce them unless they clearly break the law or intent to. If you have all their biometric data you can coerce them outside the public eye, and if you are a Nazi or Stasi government you will simply find them and put them in some camp to rot, thus terrorizing the population into compliance with (in the case of Hitler) the hatefull and destructive nightmare of one individual.
The fossil banking system is the only one with an interest in hard biometrics
A government is a system we choose to comply with, not a system that has our compliance or can force it. The only reason why you could find a government like that is that it is clear there are solutions to every problem. And this is the case if one uses fossil fuels. Even in the US, up until recently it was clear that all the corruption, all the supression of renewables, all the denial of climate change, was to make sure banks and oil companies could continue their businesses unhindered. It is them who drive the terror threat, it is them who created ISIS and Al Quaida, it is them who thrive of arms trade and who create Homeland Security, it is them who funded the NSA and will work to have a indestructable database with hard biometrics on all of us.
A renewables powered world is local, doesn’t need a global spying and controlling government
A renewable powered world will not have banks like we have now, it will not need global cooperation because it will not create needyness by separating consumers and producers. It will not need to have a ‘growing economy’, it will have local governments that won’t have to know how to identify each citizen exactly. It will not be as competitive because we now compete over access to fossil fuels. Renewables are 2500 times more abundant, we will have more than enough to surivive and restore our planet. But if we don’t protect ourselves against the possibility of a government weeding out whoever wants to end the fossil reign, which has been show to happen (fossil fuel companies paying private armies and individuals to infiltrate opposition, trying to bring them to criminal acts so they can be prosecuted) we may not be able to until fossil fuels have truely destroyed life on our planet.
Rule : Identification of an indivial must remain voluntary at all times. This means hard biometric data should not be allowed in the hands of anyone