The problem with ID cards?

For all the critiques I’ve ever read of ID cards (or more accurately, an identity database), I always find myself asking one question at the end. Are you against them because:

  1. it simply can never be done securely?
  2. the technology isn’t there yet?
  3. you just don’t trust the current government?
  4. you just don’t trust any government?
  5. you just don’t trust anyone?

I don’t pretend to know enough about the ugly back-end technology (as described in this Dizzy Thinks post) to form much of an opinion on points 1 and 2. But I wonder if the majority of opposition doesn’t come down to options 3, 4 or 5.
Better service in the modern world comes down to the exchange of electronic data. Think of that every time you don’t spend 5 minutes waiting at the checkout while someone writes a cheque. Or every time you order from Amazon. I can’t believe it isn’t possible to do this properly in the public sector too.

6 thoughts on “The problem with ID cards?”

  1. Slight problem here, you’re assuming that the private sector does it properly. People like Amazon are subject to regular PCI Visa audits and the like, and even then there is nothing in that that could stop them being compromised at their weakest point.
    The fact is though, the information that will be held on the ID register is so unique that actually it threatens the security of your identity. Think about it like this, when your bank account gets compromised you get a new one. If your PIN is compromised you get a new one. If however your biometric data is compromised you can’t just get new ones.
    The next problem is the assumption that biometric data cannot be fraudulently presented by someone and never will be able to. It’s nonsense, the movie Gattaca of all things is a brilliant example of how there will be means and ways of usurping a world in which DNA becomes the primary identifier of self.

  2. I always find myself asking one question at the end: why do we need them at all?

  3. “And they’ve always said ‘it will not be compulsory to carry a card.’ Isn’t their word good enough?”
    They’ve said no such thing. David Blunkett said right from the start that it wouldn’t matter that you didn’t carry a card because your biometrics would stand in place of the card (police would have scanners). The clear intention is that you can be identified by the authorities wherever there is an online access point to the National Identity Register. If it turns out that the biometrics aren’t up to it, then clearly it will be made compulsory to carry the card.

  4. “If however your biometric data is compromised you can’t just get new ones.”(dizzy)
    I am a little behind the times I guess. So someone humour me, how can one have their biometric data compromised?
    Surely, in this case, Dizzy is referring to having the data substituted. If so, where will the data be substituted?
    In the enrolment database unlikely though not impossible, or on a fraudulent card chip more likely but again, not an activity to be carried out without some degree of specialism.
    If so, which data will be compromised?
    The photograph, fingerprints or the iris data, perhaps all of it
    I think I need it spelling out to me how someone will be able to take their biometrics and associate it with my personal details. If, that is, I take the earliest opportunity to register my biometrics and have them verified.
    The system will then surely reject any other person who claims to be me without the need for any biometric data, simply because my details are already in the database.
    Ah! I hear you say, what if someone got their first with my name, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, NI number, place of birth, copy of my birth certificate along with a newly acquired passport and driving license a and… a photograph signed by two verifiable professional members of society such as a doctor, solicitor or bank manager.
    Well then, I am stymied…or am I. We shall see, I think a wife and an employer might swing it in the case of me being arrested and questioned.
    Please, someone tell me what is all the fuss about, and who is leading the furore. Not the 59% of those questioned who said yes to ID cards, not the 3% who don’t know I will wager, possibly the 14% who have no strong feelings either way are the stirrers. No, I think 1 in 5 people who have a disagreeable disposition towards ID cards have other interests, which are in some cases self-seeking. I further suggest that not all 17% who do disagree do so in the best interest of their fellow citizens.

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