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Military Works on High-Tech IDs

July 26, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Future versions of military identification cards will encode information about fingerprints or other physical characteristics, the Pentagon’s latest move to tighten security.

The newest cards already have information such as name, rank and serial number on a computer chip embedded in the card under the user’s picture. The Defense Department passed out the one-millionth computerized ID card earlier this week to an Army soldier who works at the Pentagon.

Officials hope to distribute the high-tech ID cards to more than 3 million military and civilian Defense Department workers in the next several years.

The ID cards help the Defense Department guard its computer files, not just its bases and offices, said John Stenbit, the Pentagon’s chief information officer.

Workers with the ID cards can insert them into a device at a computer terminal to log on and get access to the files they need _ and not to files they don’t.

``The point of all of this is to allow people to have broader access to information, freely, over a network,″ Stenbit said.

With the card, the computer recognizes who is on the network and can track what files he uses, which websites he visits and what e-mails he sends. Users can send and receive encrypted e-mail and be sure no unauthorized users have access to the information.

Army Spc. Trenton Dugan, who got the one-millionth ID card, demonstrated the technology for reporters by sending an encrypted e-mail to the Defense Department press office.

The Pentagon is testing a program to add ``biometrics″ data to the ID card _ information about unique physical characteristics such as a fingerprint, hand shape, iris pattern, voice print or face. That would add another level of security by requiring computer users to log in with their ID card and password and then have their fingerprint or other biometric data scanned to verify who they were.

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On the Net:

Pentagon’s Biometrics Management Office: http://www.c3i.osd.mil/biometrics

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