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Friday, August 15, 2008

A busted scheme

I think it is well-established by now that this Labour Government has no shame, that it will persist with flagship projects despite over-whelming evidence which undermines their raison d'etre and that its judgement has failed due to an obsession with being seen as tough on terrorism and crime. However, even Gordon Brown must realise by now that his ID card scheme is a busted flush.

So as to help him make up his mind today's Guardian provides even more evidence of its unworkability. They report on a warning from the government's top scientific advisers that the quality of fingerprints from 4 million people aged over 75 may be too poor to be used to prove their identity:

The "gold standard" integrity of the national identity scheme would depend on all 10 digits of the hands of everyone in Britain over 16 being accurately recorded on the central register, but experts have now told Home Office ministers that it is "hard to obtain good quality fingerprints" from the over-75s.

They warned that "exceptional handling" arrangements would have to be made to handle the registration of those whose fingerprints are not up to scratch. This would have a "large impact not only on the technical elements of the scheme but [also] on businesses processes, schedules and costs".

American experts estimate between 2% and 5% of adults have poor quality fingerprints, which means ridges on the fingers are not sharply defined enough to be reliably copied by an automatic scanner.

And where was this warning to be found? In a report slipped out before Parliament rose for the summer recess from the biometrics assurance group, which is made up of independent experts from Whitehall, the industry and universities and chaired by the government's chief scientific adviser, Professor John Beddington.

The Guardian goes on to tell us that the scientific and technical experts also voiced wider concern that difficulties in enrolling people with "challenging biometrics" had not been sufficiently tested in the ID card trials so far. They suggested the test group needed to be expanded to include those who were "elderly, mute, non-English speaking, blind or visually impaired". The Royal National Institute of Blind People has already raised concerns about the difficulties faced by visually impaired people registering under the scheme.

They go on to advise that proper attention needs to be paid to issues of privacy and consent across the national identity scheme, and urge the public to be well-informed about how their data could be used and shared with certain government bodies without the consent of the individual involved.

As ever in these matters it is difficult to argue with Phil Booth, who is the national coordinator of the No2ID campaign. He warned that the problems raised about the biometrics were fundamental and meant that compulsory fingerprinting would embed discrimination at the heart of the ID card scheme. "Higher failure rates for the old, ethnic minorities, the disabled and the infirm risk creating a biometric underclass," he said.


I'm not going to carry an ID card if/when they are introduced.

Gary Lewis - bridgend Lib Dems
Well, if or when this ID is cometh you will find it hard to transact basic things - banks, your college grant people, just about every organization will start asking for it - where I live if you don't carry ID its a problem cashing a cheque without ID (State ID, driving license, Green Card, US passport or something 'solid' with a mug shot on it). I've lost count the number of times I have to show ID, even buying wine - and this in freedom America.
Most people in the UK carry their driving licence, and usually pay by Chip 'n' Pin debit cards.

The only time I've been asked for ID is when filling out a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check to see if I've been a good boy when working with vulnerable children.

I understand that there are a number of UK citizens (Oops Subjects) who are spending time in the correctional institution of Guantamino Bay.

ID cards didn't stop 9/11 or the Madrid train bombings - they are an expensive gimick, we don't know what information will be held on them (perhaps subversive in my case) we don't know if that information will be accurate and we don't know if that information will be safe, our govenment has lost a couple of million Bank Details (name, address, account number, sort code etc) in the recent past of those people on benifits - class act!

Are you still in favour of ID cards?

Gary Lewis
Biometric Underclass - is this a new pharse that's entered the English Language?

What a cracking term - Biometric Underclass.

Will this term enter into ordinary day-to-day conversation?

I suggest that all readers of Peter's blog tries to use this term at least once a day!

Psoriasis often leaves my finger tips cracked and sore, I'm I therefore a member of the "biometric underclass"?
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