[IWAR] US BANKS,BIOMETRICS - SEAL bill would allow banks to require

From: Mark Hedges (hedgesat_private)
Date: Sat Mar 21 1998 - 17:45:01 PST

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    Forwarded from FCREF.org newsletter:
    Coalition for Constitutional Liberties Weekly Update for 3/20/98
    Volume I, Number 5
    >From the Center for Technology Policy of the Free Congress Foundation
    phone: 202-546-3000
    fax: 202-544-2819
    For a Web version of this update go to:
    Banking industry pushing for digital signature and fingerprinting
    A bill recently introduced and currently being considered by the Senate
    Subcommittee on Financial Services and Technology would give the banking
    industry wide and sweeping powers to collect customer fingerprints and
    digital signatures.
    Called the "Digital Signature and Electronic Authentication Law (SEAL)
    of 1998", S. 1594 authorizes banks and financial institutions to
    establish electronic funds transfer systems which rely on "identity
    authentication" for conducting financial transactions. Electronic
    financial transactions will necessitate the use of either digitized
    biometric data submitted by a customer on demand at the point of the
    transaction (such as fingerprints and retina scans), or else the use of
    embedded microchips which can electronically store a customer's
    "electronic signature." However, in this case, the "signature" is not
    referring to a traditional written signature. It is, instead, an
    electronically stored representation of any one of an individual's many
    unique identifying attributes, referred to as "biometric" identification
    In a hearing held on March 11th on SEAL, Subcommittee Chairman Robert
    Bennett (R-UT), who is also the sponsor of the legislation, said
    "Putting pen to paper to sign a document has served us well, but as our
    country moves toward the 21st Century and heads into the digital age,
    electronic forms of authentication will be essential as transactions
    increasingly move from paper to open networks."
    While there are legitimate concerns about verifying a person's identity
    in electronic commerce, SEAL permits banking institutions to use ANY
    legal technology available at their disposal. This could quite quickly
    include genetic imaging. This applies to anyone who wants to utilize the
    services of that particular institution. For instance, if you want to
    cash a check from another party at their bank, that bank could require
    you to submit to a retinal scan, or collect your fingerprint for
    verification purposes. This information will then be stored along with
    the electronic record of the transaction. SEAL also preempts states from
    imposing regulations on how that collected information can be used. In
    addition, SEAL would establish none other than the Federal Reserve as
    the oversight and reporting authority to Congress on electronic
    authentication. The bill also encourages global implementation and
    recognition of technological standards sharing.
    It should come as no surprise that the banking industry is fully in
    support of SEAL. Trying to lower their expenses related to fraud, the
    banking industry would have much to gain by taking advantage of the
    Orwellian identification technology that is being developed by companies
    around the globe. At the recent hearings, representatives from VISA,
    Citibank and the Bankers Roundtable all gave their hearty endorsements
    to SEAL. However, the rights and liberties of citizens and customers
    ought to be considered prior to approving and implementing such
    Read the Senate subcommittee testimony and opening statements on S.
    Read more on S. 1594 from THOMAS:

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