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3. At least one smartgun that has entered the marketplace requires the owner to wear a special watch; the gun will only fire if it is within a short distance of the watch. While such a scheme may afford some level of protection in certain scenarios, it might do little in others; the “watch approach” would seemingly not prevent a criminal from grabbing someone’s weapon and shooting him at point blank range (as long as the gun was always near the watch), or stop a crook from stealing both the watch and the gun. Requiring a user to possess two items instead of just one is generally, not on its own, considered a major improvement to authentication. Requiring a PIN number to be entered on the watch in order to fire the gun addresses that issue – but, also introduces a risk that the legitimate user will be unable to quickly use the weapon in case of an emergency. How well do people enter PIN numbers when they are under the extreme stress of fearing for their lives? What happens if during an emergency situation a policewoman needs to use another officer’s gun?
4. Some upcoming smartgun models use biometrics to authenticate users, but biometrics take time to process and are often inaccurate – especially when a user is under duress – as is likely going to be the case in any situation in which he needs to brandish a gun. Furthermore, fingerprint readers and other forms of biometric analyzers are prone to error when people sweat profusely, shake, or are bloodied. Failures to authenticate legitimate users could lead to innocent people being killed when defending their families. Of course, there is also concern that if a crook stole a gun that relied on fingerprint authentication he might be able to lift the necessary fingerprints from all over the weapon, a problem that I described in an earlier article with regard to fingerprint-based smartphone authentication.
5. As I described in another previous article, smartguns may be susceptible to government tracking or jamming. How hard would it be for the government to require manufacturers to surreptitiously include in computer-enhanced weapons some circuitry that would allow law enforcement to track – or even to disable – the weapons? Before dismissing such a fear as silly paranoia, consider that the US government is alleged to have secretly installed malware onto thousands of networks and placed spy chips into computers, it has admitted to spying on its own citizens, is believed to have prohibited technology companies from divulging its spying on US citizens, and is known to have lost track of weapons whose locations it intended to monitor. Should private citizens really be confident that such a government will not want to keep tabs on their guns? Are firearms really less worthy of being tracked than telephone records? (While tracking devices could theoretically be placed in non-smart weapons for short term tracking or for tracking at specific locations, the power source included on smart weapons enables much more robust tracking.)
we have over 2,000 active communication satellites.