would you post images of your retina online?

By on Jan 26, 2007 in Data Protection Act | 1 comment

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Wednesday 2:19 pm 1/24/07 London, England
Originally uploaded by robinhamman.

One of the things I finally got around to whilst I was on my recent extended holiday was getting a new pair of glasses. I went for a pair of quite geeky (but that’s cool these days, honest!) black plastic ones.

At the exam, my opthamologist used something called an Panoramic200 Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscope to generate a high resolution digital scan of my retinas.

Today, about a month later, I’ve finally received an email with those images attached and they’re really beautiful. Not just because they contain a view of my own eyes that I’ve never been able to see before or, indeed, because my eyes are in any way particularly lovely or different from the next person’s. But from a “isn’t biology wonderful” and “hey, check this out” perspective, I’d love the post the photos here and/or on flickr.

The question is, should I?

According to BiometricNewsPortal, retina scans have an error rate of one in 10 million in comparison to fingerprinting which can result in an error rate as bad as 1 in 500. The site also says that:

“retina biometrics systems are suited for environments requiring maximum security, such as Government, military and banking. Retina biometric systems have been in use for military applications since the early seventies…”

I don’t want to get into the debate about whether governments should issue state, or in the case of the EU, supra-state ID cards or biometric passports, etc. But I’m thinking that, as cool as those retinal images might be, it could very well be a bad idea to post them online. In fact, I should probably be emailing the optician to request that they delete the images.