Monday, September 25, 2017

The Problem with Biometric Login

I'm intrigued by the new ideas for biometric Web site logins that avoid using usernames and passwords. The idea I was reading about most recently would use the pattern of the user's heartbeat.

Biometric login is almost certainly coming, but it presents a problem.

Our editing/self-publishing business includes my formatting the client's edited files for print, converting them to e-book (ePub and MOBI), and uploading those files, plus the cover, to certain online sites. Which means that I have to log in to those sites as the client -- i.e., by using the client's username and password. That works now, but what happens if all those sites convert to biometric login?

The problem is much larger than our business. Many of our clients are blind, and they rely on sighted helpers to conduct a lot of their online business for them. They're okay with giving their login information to trusted sighted people. Biometrics will be a problem there.

In time, many more Web sites will be much more accessible to the blind or vision-impaired, but I doubt if they all will ever be. Even now, because I've become much more sensitive to this problem, I'm shocked at how inaccessible most major Web sites are.

But even if they all become accessible, or there's a cure for blindness -- bionic eyes, maybe -- there will always be people who want or need to have others access online sites for them by logging in as them. How will biometric login deal with this?