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Monday, June 13, 2005

Whose Identity?

This morning's Times undermines those who would argue that a National Identity Card will help guard against fraud. On the contrary, an expert concludes that the ID card will assist in identity theft:

Dr James Backhouse, a director of the London School of Economics Information Systems Integrity Group, said that identity cards would instead become the new master key for identity fraudsters, who would be able to acquire the cards using stolen documents. An identity theft takes place every four minutes and costs the country an estimated £1.3 billion a year.

It is one of the fastest-growing crimes in Britain. Fraudsters typically use discarded utility bills or bank statements of their victims to apply for loans and credit cards. Mr Backhouse said it would be impossible for the Government to stop fraudsters from applying for identity cards using fake documents.

Once a successful application has been made, an identity fraudster will have his own biometric details imprinted on an ID card displaying fake or stolen personal information.

Dr. Backhouse has also raised the possibility that flaws in the technology will actually hinder people from using the ID card as an easy and reliable form of identity to secure loans, open bank accounts etc. This is a standard argument used by those who are happy to carry this card for the sake of convenience, however what might happen in reality is that failures in the biometric data or discrepancies on the system could lead to legitimate applicants being refused credit.

Dr Backhouse also raised doubts that banks and credit card companies would reject all applications from people whose ID card details failed to match their details on the national database. He said: “The ability to match up biometric records accurately to every person is not there at the moment. There will be flaws and lenders will have to ask themselves what an acceptable failure rate is. They risk losing a lot of business by rejecting every application from a person whose card details do not stack up with what is on the Government’s database.”

All the evidence is that the government are deluding themselves when they claim that these cards will prevent impersonation and fraud. The opposite may prove to be true.

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Comments:
Just tod raw your attention (and others) to this

http://www.pledgebank.com/refuse
 
See this article in the Register (25 May), which neatly demolishes the government's claims about fraud.
 
i could have sworn the government said that id cards were essential to preventing terrorism, now its to prevent identity fraud!

when will blair pick a story and stick to it?
 
For god sake taffia don, put your brain into gear! Can’t you connect identity fraud with terrorism? Can’t you see the logical connection between identity fraud and terrorism? Instead of criticising the government on everything they do, maybe you could suggest practical alternative solutions?
 
and on your vane martyn

for gods sake cant you see the connection between identity cards and big brother?

i would make the connection between id cards and prevention of terrorism if i considered it to be prevalent theme.

id cards just seem to be increasingly used to control us, i dont see how putting your entire identity into one plastic card makes it safer? surly its easier to steal, it wont be difficult to reprogramme with someone elses biometrics and bobs-your-uncle your entire identity has been stolen.

answer me this - how long do you reckon before the id card scheme and the road charging proposal merge, that is to say that you will need to insert your id card into the black box that tells where the government where you are at what times.

and before you attack me saying that it is not why they're introduced, just think, it makes sence to know who is driving the car that they want to charge so they can charge the apropraite person. it is the future uses of this card that are truly intrusive and quite frankly worry me.

id cards will not prevent major crime or terrorism, if you look at the new style of crime - especially in northern ireland - where a family is held hostage until the person with security clearance steals money for them. how would id cards prevent this.

it is quite appropraite that today in 1981 the queen was shot at with a starting pistol at trooping of the colour, what makes you think that id cards could stop terrorism one person in a crowd with a gun can still bring down a country having their fingure prints in a database isnt going to stop it.

and after all terrorists have probably got well established and quite sophiftocated (pardon my spelling) ways of forging passports it would only take a short time before they could adapt to forging identity cards.

a practicle alternative well fighting terrorism is attacking a symptom not the causeif we capture a terrorist, then there will be another to take his/her place. we need to find ways to breaking that cycle, and hears where i dont know enough to comment further, but we must alter the conditions in order to make people turn away from extreamism.

and finally a question for you martyn, when has britain been attacked by terrorists that weren't associated with northern ireland conflict? i cant think of one time, all i can remember is rather conventient terror alerts when contrivercial bills were before parliament - like the tanks at heathrow? what good would they have done? they couldnt stop a bomb on a plane or a missle launched at a plane?
 
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