UK Liberty

Fingers in my ears, I can’t hear you, nah nah nah

Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on March 6, 2009

The BBC:

The national identity card scheme could be “fatally” undermined by cheaply produced fake cards, a leading industry expert has warned.

Toby Stevens, of the Enterprise Privacy Group, believes a shortage of fingerprint scanners could lead to an explosion in “flash and dash” fraud.

And that, he says, could scupper the scheme before it gets off the ground.

The Home Office has said it will set up a hotline for traders concerned about the authenticity of ID cards.

But it has no plans at this stage to issue scanners to shops, banks, pubs and other commercial premises.

And there is currently no timetable for scanners to be handed-out to immigration officers, job centres and police, although the Home Office insists this will happen [By hook or by crook it will]. …

But a spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service dismissed fears that the cards will be prone to fraud.

He said: “To suggest incremental roll out of ID cards and electronic readers will undermine the security of the scheme and lead to more fraud is wrong.

“We recognise the importance of being able to validate cards. In addition to physical and technical design features of the card to prevent forgeries, we are considering [shouldn’t this have been decided by now?] how organisations will be able to check the validity of an identity card that is presented to them using a service similar to the current Passport Validation Service.

“We believe citizens will recognise the benefits of ID cards and they will quickly become seen as the preferred proof of identity by organisations looking to prevent identity fraud.” 


How the Passport Validation Service Works

PVS operates a “green, amber, red” system to establish the validity of a passport. Private sector clients make enquiries via a call centre. If a passport is validated we can confirm that the passport exists, matches IPS records, has not been reported lost/stolen, and we have no concerns over its issue. If a passport is not validated, it may be because the passport is either expired or cancelled (e.g. due to a change of name). A “not validated – retain if possible” response means that the document is fraudulent.

In the event of an attempted fraud, our staff will direct customers to a member of the IPS Fraud Team who can further assist.

Unfortunately the IPS has only three examples of how we might use the identity card in daily life, but let’s have a look at them: proving your age, e.g. to an off-licence, where the dates of birth will be on the identity card; collecting a parcel (although this example requires a card reader, oh dear); transferring money in a bank (but this example requires a card reader too, doh).  

So, absent a card reader, presumably the government will require the off licence, post office and bank to phone the call centre.

I wonder how much a call centre with adequate capacity will cost to set up and run.

By the way, the definition of ‘help’ is interesting here:

In summary, the scheme will  simplify the process of proving your identity, making day-to-day transactions easier and safer. It will also make your identity more secure and help to reduce levels of identity fraud throughout society.

I say this because often when you’re required to prove your ‘identity’ or age it is because legislation or regulation requires it – for example, buying alcohol – than it being of direct benefit to you personally. Again, this scheme is about how it benefits the government – there is little to no direct benefit to us.

I continue to be optimistic that if we ever get identity cards they will fail at every conceivable turn.

But sadly this is going to cost us a lot of money and problems in terms of data abuse.


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