“anonymous” sperm donation…not so anonymous any more

I found this via retweets from Tim O’Reilly on Bio-Medicine.

The boy tracked down his father from his Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son unchanged. The gene variant patterns it carries can help trace the concerned paternal line, according to a report in New Scientist. All that it cost the boy to trace his father was $289 paid to FamilyTreeDNA.com for the service. In fact, his genetic father had never supplied his DNA to the site. For investigation, the site needed someone in the same paternal line to be on file. After nine months of waiting and making his contact details available to other clients, the boy was contacted by two men with Y chromosomes closely matching his own. These two were strangers, but the similarity between their Y chromosomes suggested there was a 50 per cent chance that all three had the same father, grandfather or great-grandfather.

Though the boy’s genetic father was anonymous, his mother knew the donor’s date and place of birth and his college degree. Using another online service, Omnitrace.com, he bought the names of all who had been born in the same place on the same day. Only one man had the surname he was looking for, and within 10 days he had made contact.

Passport Biometrics. Why?

From Tara over at Horse Pig Cow she highlights this issue she learned about while in Europe by a fellow blogger.

Here in Europe we’re currently forced to get passports with biometrical data because the US wants us to do so. There are a lot of discussions about this and not everyone is happy with it. There is still no explanation from my government on what this is for. But there might be at least some control and protection of my data by my own government against other interests.

The reason this is happening around the world is a phenomena called ‘policy laundering.’ This what happens when governments want a policy.

Policy – “biometrics embedded in passports” and even more specifically being able to read these biometrics without touching the pass port. Basically mandating RFID chips with your biometrics in your passport.

So would this pass in the US? Not likely. So they took the ‘policy’ to the international standards body that determines international standards for passports. It is this body that decides that the policy.

The blogger continues and touches on issues that we are tackling in the identity world.

And now there’s this huge database of the same data building up without any control.

And that’s a big part of my problem: I don’t have control over my own data. At least none that I know of. Everyone can upload pictures of me and tag them with my name and e-mail address and I don’t even know it. In Germany it’s a human right to know what others know about someone and I see some possible violations of that in your (and other’s, for sure) service.

Owning your own data or at least having a copy of it is what we have been talking about in the identity community for a while.

Index Finger Scanning at Disney World + FastTrack Scanning

This article was Slashdotted…

Tourists visiting Disney theme parks in Central Florida must now provide their index and middle fingers to be scanned before entering the front gates.

The scans were formerly for season pass holders but now everyone must provide their fingers, Local 6 News reported. They have reportedly been phased in for all ticket holders during the past six months, according to a report.

I think it’s a step in the wrong direction,” Civil Liberties Union spokesman George Crossley said. “I think it is a step toward collection personal information on people regardless of what Disney says.

I think this is self explanatory in terms of why it is concerning. It seems to goes along with what is now happening with FastTrack passes (automatic toll readers) that I heard about last night at the Hillside Club CyberSalon where Esther Dyson was speaking. I googled the phenomena and here are some excerpts of what I found.

In New York State, readers have been multiplying ever since September 1997, when the New York Police Department (NYPD) used E-Z Pass toll records to locate and track the movements of a car owned by Nelson G. Gross, a New Jersey millionaire who had been abducted and murdered. The NYPD had neither a subpoena nor a warrant to obtain those records; the police simply asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), and the MTA complied. This set a very bad precedent. Though Gross wasn’t alive to complain about it, his privacy had been violated. Access to those toll records also permitted access to all sorts of sensitive information, including his billing address, his credit card number, his license plate number and his Social Security number.

In February 1998, the MTA announced that — near the Tappan Zee Bridge (the site of the first reader in New York State, installed in 1993) — it had just concluded a successful “experiment” with readers that could detect and extract information from transponders even though the cars to which they were attached didn’t slow down. These “high-speed readers” were only three-feet tall and could be placed just about anywhere. As a result, they permitted the ETC system to do something it was never intended to do: namely, collect truly huge amounts of information about such non-toll related phenomena as traffic flows, speeds, densities and delays (all of which, incidentally, can be videotaped by either flow monitoring or security cameras that have been automatically activated by the readers).

Since then, high-speed readers have been installed along a great many State-owned roads and highways; they’ve also been installed atop many residential buildings in New York City.