Speed Reads

surveillance nation

The government wants a record of your voice

Much like the unique pattern on your fingerprints, your voice offers unique biometric identifiers — so, of course, the government and some businesses want a record of it. More than 65 million "voiceprints" have already been recorded and added to government and private databases, and millions more are being collected on a regular basis.

The data will be used for everything from tracking criminals to providing forgotten passwords. And this isn't the stuff of science fiction: It's already being used in place of login info for banking by phone at one mutual fund based in Pennsylvania, and some parole officers use voiceprints to keep tabs on newly released inmates.

Of course, the potential for abuse is obvious in the age of the surveillance state. "It's more mass surveillance," said Sadhbh McCarthy, a security researcher from Ireland. "The next thing you know, that will be given to border guards, and you'll need to speak into a microphone when you get back from vacation."