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New technology causes new privacy, security concerns

SARASOTA, Fla. – A quick iris scan can open the door to a penthouse hotel room.  The right face and voice can unlock a smart phone.  Many wonder how fingerprint and facial recognition technology all works. While it sounds secure and could make your life easier, there are privacy concerns.

Blood donor Bill Heron scans his finger and it instantly identifies him at his blood bank in Sarasota with no ID required.

"All I have to do is put my finger on the pad and they have all my information and off we go," he explained.

Sophisticated biometric security devices work by measuring things that are "unique to you", like your fingerprint, your voice, your face, even your eye.

"Clearly the future is now, and it is coming to life," said Michael DePasquale with BIO-key International.

From checking in to work, to buying lunch at grade school to popping into the gym, even entering theme parks, this technology is already a part of everyday life for many.  

Soon more computers, phones and tablets will be equipped with finger scanners, which can allow you to open your PayPal account, and even medical records with a simple swipe.

"Consumers are overwhelmed today by passwords and pins and, and cards that they have to use to access all the things that are available to us now and they're no longer secure but, more importantly, they're becoming very inconvenient," said DePasquale.

Industry experts say most devices don't save your actual scans or finger prints.  Instead, they're digitally reconfigured and only reference points are kept.  

The blood bank where Heron donates says their system uses multi-layer triple encryption to keep everything private.

"It ensures that no one can intercept or modify this secure information over the internet or network," said Jayne Giroux with Suncoast Communities Blood Bank in Sarasota. "It's virtually impossible for anybody to steal your identity without your biometric finger data."

But, are there privacy issues?

"I don't think it's, it's concerning or alarming so long as there are protections in place and consumers are notified about how this information is going to being used and they're assured that the data is stored securely," said David Jacobs with EPIC Consumer Protection Counsel.

Still, privacy advocates say they're keeping a close watch on how this technology evolves, because nothing is hacker proof.

"In the near future biometric information could be as useful for identify theft as a social security number, it could even be more problematic because if your credit card number is compromised the bank can just issue you a new credit card, but it can't issue you a new iris," explained Jacobs.

Heron says this technology makes life easier and says he's not worried at all about the safety of his information.

"I think it's a cool idea," he added.

If you have concerns about using biometrics, be sure to ask what personal information is stored and if it is shared.  

And OK, let's get really sci-fi here.  If you're wondering what if someone cuts off someone's finger or makes a fake one?  Experts say new technology can tell if a finger is the "real deal."