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Biotech Security

Skeletal Identification 76

Bruce Schneier noted a story today over at his blog about a new Skeletal Identification System being developed at Wright State. Of course this is just another biometric detection system, but one that would be pretty tough to disguise.
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Skeletal Identification

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  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @09:34AM (#33354124)

    This article reads like a parody. Some guy is (supposedly) worried about sex offenders in the neighborhood - I know, let's X Ray everyone everyday ! That will surely keep people safe, until they all die of cancer.

    Seriously, are these guys stuck in the 1950's ? Penetrating radiation for bone scans ? On a daily basis ? I can remember when children's shoe stores had X ray machines, so Mom could view how the shoe fit, but such common uses of X Rays were stopped for a reason, and as a screening device this has no chance.

    From the article : Depending on the selected technology, a skeletal scan would only expose a person to radiation that is the approximate equivalent of taking one cross-country airline flight

    From the World Health Organization, INFORMATION SHEET Nov. 2005, on Cosmic Radiation and Air Travel : []

    Aircrew are now recognized in many countries as occupationally exposed to radiation, and radiation protection limits for aircrew are similar to those established for nuclear workers.

    If you work through the numbers (and I read the above to mean that, at best, radiation exposure would be similar to air travel, so this is a lower bound), a daily scan would thus amount to 2 to 5 milliSievert (mSv) of radiation each year, substantially exceeding the ICRP guideline of no more than 1 mSv exposure to any fetus during pregnancy, and coming close to or exceeding the guideline of 4 mSv exposure for ordinary workers.

    This would, at a minimum, mean that anyone at risk of pregnancy should not be scanned, and radiation workers should not be scanned (as they are typically close to their limits). There is thus just no chance that this would be adopted for regular screening of the general population.

  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Tuesday August 24, 2010 @11:50AM (#33356240) Homepage

    Not to mention the rate of,

    - false negative.
    They specifically mention that broken bone and screws are things that make bone shape individual.
    As soon as one ot those "godless pedo-terrorist pirate" breaks a bone, he is a completely different person for this system. Unless you make it mandatory to periodically update the database to know each latest modification the bones have gone through.

    - false positive.
    There's some variability among population, but is it enough to distinguish reliabily all the population ? Sure that no two persons out of the couple of billion currently on earth won't share similar bones ?
    Specially since the articles considers same skeleton / different face as someone who is trying to hide something using plastic surgery (and not as a defficiency in the system ?)

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall