Divergent thoughts

Re-posted from archive of infinite ideas machine 2004:

Great! Irdial Discs is all fired up and has now outlined a(nother) web-based ID card demo using PIC cards, GPG for encryption – BUT using some form of database with facial recognition matching.

You may note that my last link is to Identix’s ABIS™ system, “the industry’s first enterprise level [emphasis added] facial recognition matching platform, designed to solve the problem of large-scale facial image database search”. This is, quite evidently, a non-trivial issue…

For me, though, there’s a more fundamental problem with this proposal.

The system – not just the cards, although cards will be involved – that I want to demonstrate needs to challenge the whole notion of a centralised database, especially one that holds biometric records. A demonstration of the type described above is pretty much what the Government seems to be proposing, and would therefore fail (for my purposes) at the first hurdle! It is precisely the NIR that I, and others, consider to be the real problem – and probably the Home Office’s real agenda.

The devil is very much in the detail when you have to design and implement ‘secure’ technologies, but you have to get your principles & values sorted first – so I am going to stick closer to Irdial’s original (no central database) proposal in my own investigations. I hope I have explained myself clearly without giving any offense.

I’m still working on a PDF417 posting but, if folks want to read ahead, here’s a paper from 3M-AiT Ltd on Using 2D Barcodes to Enhance the Security of Machine-Readable Travel Documents [543 KB PDF file] that I shall be referring to.

I’m heading out now for beers, but will sign off with a passing thought:

Any society large enough to contain strangers has developed tokens (e.g. ID documents) that need to be authenticated, to stand in (i.e. substitute) for direct knowledge and trust – but it is still only people who are meaningfully being identified. So when, in law, the record replaces the individual as the foundation of identity we shall have enslaved ourselves to a system devoid of trust, in which assertions and appearances matter more than the reality of our relationships, our bodies and our freedom.

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