Sunday, June 05, 2005

LSE to publish ID Card Proposal

There's an article in the Sunday Telegraph on the LSE's proposals for an alternative ID card scheme due to be released during the week. They think it's better than the gov't proposals - I think it's worse. I would give you a link to the website but the article is for subscribers only so there didn't seem to be a lot of point.

Since I am quoting a newspaper it is entirely possible that mistakes have crept in - we'll know when the LSE publishes there report.

Basically the scheme as proposed contains fewer details (hooray!) with an application form countersigned by three professional referees - e.g. doctor, lawyer, teacher, police officer - all of whom have known the applicant for a time. These referees will need to provide professional details to deter fraud.

Question: How many people know *three* professionals of this type?

The applicant would go to a job centre/post office/equivalent and use a kiosk to take a digital photograph to be sent along with the application form. The form is handed in at a post office where a biometric is taken of either iris or fingerprints. The biometrics will be used to ensure that the card is handed to the right person.

Question: There are rural communities without post offices. How will they cope?
Question: Have they read their own studies on the reliability of bioemetrics?
Question: Proof that the card is handed to the right person is not the same as proof that the person currently holding the card is the right person. Will this lead to a a false sense of security?
Question: If the details and the digital photograph is considered acceptable for the purposes of other organisations proving ID, why is a biometric required at all?

A card will be prepared by the gov't using the information enclosed. It will be sent back to the post office for the applicant to collect. At this point it will be inactive. The card holder takes it to a "trusted third party" (WTF?) - e.g. a bank or post office - where the applicant is well known. The third party scans the card and connects to the gov't database. The third party takes a copy of the information on the database and the gov't deletes it's copy (WTF?!?) except for basic information (Name, ID card number, ID number).

Question: There are rural communities without high street banks or post offices. How will they cope?
Question: This proposal is that a "trusted third party" stores the data. So instead of the gov't (nominally an accountable elected party) the proposal is to use a private company that is only accountable to it's shareholders?
Question: This apparently costs less than the gov't scheme. Is this mainly because the cost of maintaining the database is passed to the "trusted third party"? If so, how many are going to sign up to this? What is their incentive (other than access to lot's of lovely data)?

The words "Ivory Towers" are springing to mind. Forgive me if I seem a little sceptical - I await the full publication with intrest and a certain amount of weariness.


1 comment:

Watching Them, Watching Us said...

I agree that the "professional countersignatories" requirement needs more thought.

There are plenty of "professionals" who charge a fee for, say, a Passport Application signature, who do not really know the applicant personally for over two years.

The Passport Services's list of acceptable countersignatories is now astonishigly broad.

"LSE identity card scheme - have you ever met your Bank Manager face to face ?"

Incredibly, the people who know you best and for longest, i.e. your family and relatives are not allowed to countersign, even if they are upstanding "professionals" who can sign stranger's forms !