Mothers’ obits

Was talking to a journalist last week about a trend in obituaries. The tradition, when a married woman passes away, has always been to list her maiden as well as her married name, so that those who knew her earlier in her life will recognize her.

Recently, those listing obituaries in the newspapers have requested that this name be withheld, so that identity theives do not have easy access to yet another personal identifier. It’s one of those interesting subtle indicators of a rising concern about personal identification.

As our financial and other transactions are increasingly virtualized, keeping track of who’s who becomes more and more important. Many suggest that biometrics are the answer. I don’t think this is the case. Cash stuffed in a matress is made up of markers of virtual currency, but still works. There are solutions to be had, with some work, particularly in public key encryption. There just needs to be enough popular demand to create the (financial) need for banks and others to take up new patterns of identification, ones that do not rely on the ignorance of criminals.

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