Re-posted from archive of infinite ideas machine 2004: [UNLINKED]
Duncan’s story on out-law.com today, entitled ‘A close encounter with biometrics’ offers a glimpse of what biometric enrollment – for Passports, Drivers’ Licenses and ID cards, to name but three – may involve for us all.
Potentially incorrect readings, an inability to verify or match records due to simple communications failures and technicians who would rather trust a machine than think for themselves – even to assist a willing volunteer!
It is hard to see how this trial (already delayed and shortened because of previous supplier errors) is going to ‘prove’ anything other than the fact that biometrics are highly inconvenient and time-consuming and that the capture and reading technologies are not even close to reliable enough to ensure the levels of ‘infallibility’ touted by Mr. Blunkett and his ID card department.
If you see any future Home Office Press Release hailing the ‘oustanding success’ of the UKPS trial, you’ll know for sure that these people simply don’t care about us citizens, or even the validity of the citizen-held ‘identity tokens’ (e.g. biometric passports, ID cards) which they intend to issue and charge us for – it’s the database that they want.
(im)Pure and simple.
And if this hypothetical Press Release were to mention ‘valuable lessons learned’? How about the fact that, despite the much-touted “80%” public support for ID cards the trial was unable to muster even 7,000 volunteers: the Home Office should learn to ignore polls from companies that have a vested interest in the outcome. [MORI ran both the Detica-commissioned poll and the recruitment process for the UKPS trial]
The only lesson to be learned here, by any truly open-minded individual, is that even state-of-the-art biometric technologies are not up to the job of mass identification. With the 7+% enrolment failure rate currently being experienced on some types of biometric, over 4 million of us would be left without identities through machine error alone. And almost 1 in 10 ‘verifications’ would fail in the real world, with all the attendant consequences…
N.B. those incredibly high ‘positive & negative match’ figures that you may hear bandied about relate only to what goes on in the database – which should bloody well work 100% of the time, seeing as *all* they are doing is matching sets of bits! They have nothing to do with whether the bits that are being checked (against) are actually yours, or are in the right place under the right name, or are even currently available. And no matter how much the technology improves, this will always remain the case.
Get real – ID cards (the way the Home Office wants to do ’em) just won’t work.