April 01, 2005

LinkNews Digest [04/01/2005]

The Problem with Biometrics

Police in Malaysia are hunting for members of a violent gang who chopped off a car owner's finger to get round the vehicle's hi-tech security system. The car, a Mercedes S-class, was protected by a fingerprint recognition system.

The attackers forced Mr Kumaran to put his finger on the security panel to start the vehicle, bundled him into the back seat and drove off. But having stripped the car, the thieves became frustrated when they wanted to restart it. They found they again could not bypass the immobiliser, which needs the owner's fingerprint to disarm it.

They stripped Mr Kumaran naked and left him by the side of the road - but not before cutting off the end of his index finger with a machete. (LINK)
The problem with biometric locks is that you can still lose the "keys".

Tivo Introduces Pop-Up Ads

When it debuted in 1999, TiVo revolutionized the TV experience by wresting control of screen time from advertisers, allowing viewers to record shows and skip commercials. TiVo's slogan said it all: "TV your way."

Behind the scenes, though, TiVo was courting advertisers, selling inroads to a universe most customers saw as commercial-free. The result is a groundbreaking new business strategy, developed with more than 30 of the nation's largest advertisers, that in key ways circumvents the very technology that made TiVo famous.

By March, TiVo viewers will see "billboards," or small logos, popping up over TV commercials as they fast-forward through them, offering contest entries, giveaways or links to other ads. If a viewer "opts in" to the ad, their contact information will be downloaded to that advertiser -- exclusively and by permission only -- so even more direct marketing can take place. (LINK)
Selling ad space...that appears while you fast-forward through the ads (Tivo's key selling point). This is what happens when executives start a meeting with "How can we maximize revenue AND lose customers in one fell swoop?"

RFID to Appear On US Passports

In a misguided attempt to make US passports more secure, the US Department of State plans to put radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in all new passports. This RFID chip will contain the same information currently on our passports, including the passport holder's name, date and place of birth, passport number and photograph. From identity theft to identity death, an RFID-chipped US passport means good news for the bad guys.

I don't expect my country to actively protect me when I am abroad, but I do expect it to not put me actively in harm's way. I don't need a beacon that is an advertisement for my potential victimhood, "Look, over here, an American! Need cash? Credit cards? Want to make a splashy political statement for the news? Act now!"

Hitler's "Mein Kampf" Tops Turkish Bestsellers

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's government Monday played down soaring sales of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic book "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") and said there were no racists in the large Muslim country.

Booksellers say "Mein Kampf," or "Kavgam" in Turkish, has featured among the top 10 bestsellers in the past two months, to the dismay of the country's small Jewish community and of the German embassy in Ankara.

Political analysts say "Mein Kampf" probably reflects rising nationalism and anti-American sentiment rather than anti-Semitism or specific support for Hitler and his ideas.

There is also widespread anger about the U.S. occupation of neighboring Iraq. The current No. 1 bestseller in Turkey, ahead of "Mein Kampf," is "Metal Storm," which depicts a U.S. invasion of the country. The Turkish hero avenges his homeland by destroying Washington with a nuclear device. (LINK)

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