We, being confined to our physical bodies, can only interact with the virtual world trough our devices. These devices are sensor laden and continuously registering our involuntary behavior in real time. We cannot escape our involuntary behavior and if “behavioral biometrics” is applied we cannot hide ourselves when interacting with the virtual world.
With the introduction of applications harvesting our behavioral biometric information a new reality is taking shape. We are slowly but surely moving from an era in which the user actively and intentionally initiates authentication for services per occasion to an era in which “the system” is continuously authenticating the bodies interacting with it. (See previous post)
Today a person needs to authenticate himself to (e.g.) get access to his user account of a personalized service. The intention or the promise of the service is to keep out all other users of that specific user account.
What if a person – or more precisely said his involuntary body behavior – can be recognized by the service itself when interacting with devices he needs to get access to the account or service? You do not need to actively authenticate yourself anymore but the system will authenticate you instead.
“The system” can arbitrarily block a person – even if it is unknown who this person is in the sense of legal identity – form individual services or even from the internet as a whole. The individual being locked-out has no way to prevent being blocked. Creating a new user account will not help. When implemented broadly there is simply no place to hide.
The system does not have to know the legal identity or any personal information to uniquely recognize a specific body. You factually can remain totally “anonymous” while your body is being barred from entry. Your body so to speak becomes your identity when interacting with the virtual world.
As you cannot escape your body, authenticating your body de facto identifies you as a person. In respect to the interaction with the virtual world authentication and identification are becoming totally blurred.
In this respect I would like to add a 4th category to the types of identities (personal, social and legal) discussed previously: “Body identity”.
Even though large companies and governments do their utmost best to trace us our western democratic societies are by and large still based on the same principles guaranteeing individual liberties as founded hundreds of years ago. Today we enjoy all kinds of principle liberties on this basis; we can move freely and can act anonymously if we want to or not under the burden of surveillance.
We have seen these liberties being challenged as our technology driven world becomes more invasive every day. Behavioral biometrics now is the final nail in the coffin, it seems. In a sense the interaction with the virtual world makes the physical body fully traceable: our moves in the virtual world can be monitored and linked to our unique body identities continuously. Full traceability in the virtual world will lead to accountability in the physical world.
Our liberties are at stake.