Biometric ID Cards Unlikely To Stop Forgery Or Fraud


From 2008, everyone applying for a new passport will also get an identity card, with their biometric details stored on a central register. A microchip would also hold biometric information – a person’s fingerprints or iris or facial scans, which are unique to the individual.

The biometric details are designed to make the cards more difficult to forge. A national database will be created holding the personal information of all those issued with a card. The whole scheme will be overseen by a new independent watchdog.

Following the UK government’s acceptance of the Lords’ opposition to plans to make ID cards compulsory, we are a step closer to ID cards incorporating biometrics. These are designed to prevent forgery.

However, the main concern with ID cards is forgery. The government has chosen biometrics to prevent this, but this needs careful implementation. Biometrics alone will not prevent forgery, and with it, fraud.

Despite strong encryption, the Dutch biometric passports have already been hacked. What if someone hacks the UK system and uses this to forge cards? Obviously this would make a mockery of the whole ID card system. The government needs to tread carefully with the implementation of these cards, or the seeds of disaster will be there from the making.

There is a simple solution to this particular problem: a belt and braces approach. Storing the data as an algorithmic encryption will make it impossible for even the most sophisticated fraudster to read or substitute.

A second major concern is – why on earth does individual information need to be stored on both card and central database? There is no reason to do this – unless the Government are planning to extend the usage of the cards in future, which is a major concern for the civil liberty groups. Other countries such as France and Italy have stipulated that biometric information is stored only on the cards themselves – thus still within the possession of the individual.

The final concern of course is – will the project work, and that is anyone’s guess!

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