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I'm curious if there's a good in-universe explanation for this.

In Star Trek II, we see Admiral Kirk have to give a retinal(biometric) scan to access Project Genesis data.

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Memory Alpha also lists the DS9 episode Q-less as having a retinal scan, so the technology still exists in the 23rd century.

But then there's TNG Brothers where Data takes complete control of the Enterprise by emulating Picard's voice. It seems to me that this is a massive security hole because, as demonstrated, an emulated voice is good enough to fool the on-board computer(which also makes me wonder why nobody else tried to do it like that, since it seems trivial enough).

Why not use some form of biometric system (or even some sort of two factor authentication like a communicator) for critical things like locking out command functions and such?

marked as duplicate by Izkata, Jason Baker, Ward, Politank-Z, Meat Trademark May 16 '16 at 4:24

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  • 1
    You do know that voice identification is a biometric, right? – atk May 16 '16 at 1:04
  • @atk Yes... but my question is why not a combination of the two? Or more... – Machavity May 16 '16 at 1:14
  • @Machavity because it's not convenient on a starship to have a flashing red light in your eye whilst making split second decisions? – Often Right May 16 '16 at 1:52
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But we do see two-factor authentication!

In addition to the instances of retinal identification mentioned in the question, we also see...

Palm/fingerprint recognition

In TNG '11001001', we see Picard and Riker command the computer to auto-destruct in Main Engineering:

enter image description here

The other important aspect of two-factor authentication is that two pieces of information are used - in every instance of an important command request being made, not only are officers required to provide a voice-print, but also a particular command phrase! The computer can then recognise the voice-print, but also verify the spoken word against the officer's command 'password' for want of a better word.

As to why this is the case

Yes, we know that the security isn't perhaps the best - we have seen on numerous occasions that the fingerprint/palm recognition hasn't occurred but the ship has still been set to auto-destruct. The main reason for this I would expect is that in such situations, split-second decisions must be made - we don't have time to have a flashing red light in your eye distracting you in the midst of a tense negotiation! In such situations, every second counts and the commanding officers need to be at their decision-making best, with as little distraction but all the relevant information required as possible.

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