UK Compulsory National Identity Cards (ID Cards)
The Home Office likes to argue that the ID Card scheme will provide a "gold standard" for
identity to protect us against identity theft. If so then it will be Fool's Gold.
There have been no large-scale, independent studies on the extent of identity theft. Many of the "surveys" you
read about are commissioned by companies with a financial interest in selling products and
services connected with identity. It's another aspect of the climate of fear.
- Biometrics are an emerging technology not previously implemented on this scale
- Governments have a dreadful record of large scale computer disasters
- Cards will be faked, the system will be compromised
- Penalties for abusing the system will not deter organised crime and terrorists
- ID Cards will be a skeleton key to your identity
For an excellent analysis and demolition of the "£1.3 billion a year" claim see this
article in The Register.
There is actually no crime of "identity theft". There are crimes of fraud and theft that
can be performed by stealing personal information, but "identity theft" as such is not
legally defined (*). That means that people
are free to define it as they wish. When - as with the government - there is a vested interest in hyping up the concept then the definition
becomes so broad as to be meaningless.
Much - probably most - so-called "identity theft" is just old-fashioned credit card fraud. When surveys say
"x% of the population know someone affected by identity theft", very often what they mean
is "x% of the population know someone who's had their credit card stolen". Very different.
True identity theft - finding out about someone's life then pretending to be them - does
happen but is still very rare.
companies are already introducing chip & pin, a system they tell us will drastically
reduce credit card fraud.
The only way an Identity Card could further reduce credit card fraud would be if you were
fingerprinted or iris scanned at every till for every card purchase. Even if that were
practical, would you really want it? Do you want to live in a country where we have our
fingerprints taken in Tescos?
Much of today's credit card fraud takes place online. How will biometric ID cards prevent
online fraud? Even if we all had an iris scanner attached to our PC, transmitting our
biometrics over the net would be a huge security risk.
In fact the whole ID Card scheme and the National Identity Register are huge security
storing so much of our personal information in one place, we give a target to those who
would genuinely steal our identity. Yes, the system is supposed to be secure - but if
someone does get in, they will have instant access to everything they need to know to
steal your identity.
ID Cards and the National Identity Register will not protect your identity, they will threaten it.
(*) At least, so I'm informed. Usual
disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.
UK ID Cards - Introduction
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