McNealy calls for smart cards to help security

ORLANDO -- Privacy is dead following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, according to Sun Microsystems Inc. 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."

Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy
Sun Chairman and CEO

Scott McNealy

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

Sun lost one 12-year employee, Phil Rosenzweig, on American Airlines Flight 11 on Sept. 11 (see story).

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," he said.

Several attendees said they thought implants seemed extreme or at least something that 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. "We are going to move to smart cards and chips ... so we feel safe," he said.

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