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Hi Blog. First the article, then some commentary:
Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash
The system aims to make shopping and checking into hotels more convenient for overseas visitors
The Telegraph, by Danielle Demetriou, Tokyo 11 APRIL 2016 • 9:20AM Courtesy of JK and BB
Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency.
The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.
It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations.
The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists.
Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device.
The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.
In its first test phase, the project will involve 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments frequented by tourists in popular destinations including the mountainous hot spring resort area Hakone and the coastal town Kamakura.
The fingerprint experiment is part of a wider effort by the Japanese government to encourage visitors from overseas to visit the capital in the run up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Officials are hoping to launch the system throughout the country – including Tokyo – by 2020, with as many as 40 million overseas annual visitors expected by that year.
The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists, with anonymous data to be managed by a government-led consultative body.
The data obtained from the project will be used to help government officials create effective tourism management policies, according to Yomiuri.
One concern among officials, however, is that some tourists may be reluctant to provide fingerprint information voluntarily due to fears relating to privacy issues.
Fingerprint as payment
Biometrics – using your body to as an alternative to passwords – are on the rise. In February, Mastercard confirmed it would accept selfies and fingerprints instead of account passwords in the UK.
Several mobile wallets already use fingerprints as a way to authenticate payment. Registering debit or credit cards to an Apple Pay-compatible iPhone allows users to make payments or transactions by pressing a thumb or finger to the Touch ID fingerprint scanner in the home button to verify their identity.
Customers can also use it to travel around London’s TfL networks.
Samsung Pay and Android Pay have also started to let consumers pay for things using the fingerprint scanner.
How secure are fingerprints?
In the case of mobile payments, the smartphone maker, such as Apple, does not store your card numbers on the device you’re using for Apple Pay, nor on their servers. Instead, when a card is added, a unique Device Account Number is created and encrypted. This number is stored in a chip within your device called the secure Element.
When you go to make a transaction, the Device Account Number is matched with a dynamic security code unique to that specific payment, which is then processed.
If your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch is lost or stolen, you can suspend Apple Pay remotely or wipe it fully using Find My iPhone.
Fingerprints, like any other security measure, can be spoofed. In fact, researchers have claimed they have hacked a Samsung Galaxy S6 and a Huawei Honor 7 phone by taking a photo of someone’s finger and printing it out with special ink. The other problem is you have only 10 fingerprints – and they can never be changed. [Really? — Ed.]
However it is still considerably more difficult to steal and reproduce a fingerprint than to brute-force guess a password or a pin. Perhaps the most secure approach is to have a two-step authentication system that includes both a password and a fingerprint.
COMMENT: This article seems a bit too much in thrall to the possibilities of the new technology to pay sufficient attention to the possible abuses of fingerprinting (and no attention to the history of fingerprinting in Japan in particular). Culturally speaking, fingerprinting in Japan is associated with criminal activity, which is why so many Japanese (and let alone other NJ and Zainichi Korean minorities) are reluctant to have their fingerprints taken (let alone be forced to carry ID) and stored in a leaky government database. That’s why once again, the Gaijin as Guinea Pig phenomenon is kicking in — where it’s the powerless people in a society who are having government designs for social control being foisted upon them first, before it gets suggested as policy for the rest of the population.
The point is that Japan has long been trying to find ways to track their Gaijin population best (and has managed it with new remotely-trackable RFID-chipped Gaijin Cards). It is merely expanding upon their reinstitution of border fingerprinting for foreigners only in 2007 that was once seen as a “violation of human rights” barely ten years earlier. They’ve got all these Gaijin fingerprints from the border. Why not use them and not only track their whereabouts but also what they do with their money and time? Once there is enough data for the government to claim, “It’s convenient. It’s precedented. It’s safely stored. And it’s going to make us No. 1 again in something technological,” then watch as public policy switches to suggest it for everyone else in Japan. Japan’s control-freak bureaucracy will settle for nothing less than as much information and control over its people as possible. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
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