McNealy calls for smart cards to help security

McNealy calls for smart cards to help security

Privacy is dead following the terrorist attacks on September 11, according to Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy.

In a keynote session yesterday at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2001 here, McNealy predicted that the attacks will usher in greater attention to security technology. In turn, privacy will suffer even more than it already has at the hands of technology, he said.

"I'm a huge proponent of a national ID card," McNealy said, noting that several years ago he had said, "Privacy is dead, get over it."

McNealy said that to overcome the "efficiency tax" travelers are facing at airports with long lines, it will make sense to begin adopting identity cards that are smart-card-enabled. These can be supplemented by biometric identification such as a thumbprint scanner, all of which can be done more efficiently than "50 security guards."

McNealy said it would be better to know who is on a plane or in a mall where a terrorist strikes, adding that it wouldn't be necessary to know who is buying what.

He said he realises that his views might be interpreted as a way to sell more hardware and software at Sun, but added, "I'm a parent, and I care about my kids."

Sun lost one 12-year employee, Phil Rosenzweig, on American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11.

McNealy said he envisions the day when parents implant smart chips behind the ears of their children for identification purposes. "My dog has a chip [implant], and it's interesting [that] we treat a dog better than our kids."

Several attendees said they thought implants seemed extreme or at least something Americans won't want to consider for years to come, but they all agreed that technology will have to play a bigger role in security, especially at airports.

After his talk, McNealy met briefly with reporters and was asked if he seriously intended to endorse chip implants. He said he does, adding, "We are going to move to smart cards and chips ... so we feel safe."

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