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Print 27 comment(s) - last by MrPoletski.. on Feb 10 at 10:17 AM


British ID card is packed with useful biometric information for security purposes, like facial and fingerprint scans. However, the British government forgot to buy readers for them and has no concrete plan to add readers to the expensive card program.  (Source: Wikipedia.org)
The UK's ambitious program revealed to be a major waste of money as they have no available readers

The U.S. is beginning to find out the hard way that adopting a digital ID card system isn't as simple as it seems.  U.S. passport cards were recently easily hacked in a proof-of-concept attack covered here on DailyTech.  However, security concerns aside, ID cards have other problems as well.

Britain's ID card program has become the poster child for problems of the weird variety.  The program seemed very promising, with the intention of putting a wealth of information at law enforcement's fingertips and making it harder for criminals to enter or exit the country.  The carding program, run by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), cost $6.6B USD (£4.7B). The IPS offered cards with a wealth of data including biographical data as well as facial and fingerprint scans.

While such information would certainly be helpful to law enforcement efforts, there was one critical problem.  British officials forgot to buy readers for the cards. 

A news site, Silicon.com, submitted a FoI (Freedom of Information) request to the IPS, which responded by revealing that currently no police stations, border entry points, or job centers have readers for the card's biometric chip.  Without readers, the card essentially becomes just a photo ID; no more or less secure than a standard drivers license, albeit at a much higher cost.

Identity minister Meg Hillier, ironically, had just told the site the previous week that the fingerprinting information was a "vital part" of the program as "fingerprint coded into the chip … links you to the card."  Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling was quick to attack the floundering program.  He states, "Once again ministers have shown that the ID card project is absolutely farcical. What is the point of spending billions of pounds on cards that can't be read in the UK?"

Cambridge University security expert Richard Clayton agreed, stating, "If this capability is not there then the biometrics are, in short, a waste of time.  I would have thought that the government would have tried to get the readers rolled out as soon as possible as it is only when you get serious deployments that you start to learn what can go wrong."

No definite timetable has been set for the rollout of the readers.  The IPS has stated previously that it plans to roll them out, but they may cost British citizens even more taxpayer money. 

Furthermore, many of its officials seem indifferent to the idea and seem quite content not to push for the installation of any readers at all.  States IPS's Hiller, "We have always said that we would roll out the scheme incrementally. The card will not be as useful as it could be until we have got the volumes out there.  There's no prospect in the immediate future for the government directing anybody that you have to buy those things [readers] because we would be placing a burden on these organisations."

She continues, "The manufacturers of the machines have also got to decide whether it is worth their while to produce them.  I think that organisations will decide in time that it is better, quicker and cheaper to have them."

The government plans to start issuing the cards to all airport workers and international volunteers later this year and to gradually roll them out to the rest of the population.  The IPS claims that when this happens, the number of readers will naturally grow, but provides no plans of how this will be done or indication that it will encourage it.



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You have to start somewhere
By Donovan on 2/5/2009 9:56:54 AM , Rating: 5
One could just as easily argue that there is no point in spending money on the card readers until there are enough of the new cards in the system to justify the expense. The new cards are "backwards compatible" in that they work as standard photo IDs, so I don't see the problem with deploying in planned stages. It would only be a waste of money if they cancelled the program before completing it.

You could even argue that this is a brilliant way to test the cards' security before spending a lot of money on the readers. Give the public a crack at them in circulation and hold off buying the readers until you have a little confidence that they won't be hacked.




RE: You have to start somewhere
By AntiM on 2/5/2009 10:32:03 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
"The manufacturers of the machines have also got to decide whether it is worth their while to produce them.....


They could have at least started out by making sure that the companies that make the readers will even produce them.

I wonder if US citizens will so willingly give up their privacy ?? I would like to see an ID that has some type of biometric data other than just a photo; but to contain biographical info??? NO!!


RE: You have to start somewhere
By GaryJohnson on 2/5/2009 12:36:42 PM , Rating: 1
Erm, you realize a photo is biometric data? So is hair color, eye color, sex, height, weight, your age, & your signature. Anything that could be scanned by a computer and compared to you to identify you as you.


By Alexstarfire on 2/5/2009 8:30:49 PM , Rating: 2
If you could read properly he said OTHER THAN a the photo. I would assume he also means other than whatever else is already on a photo ID card. Perhaps it could include a sample of your DNA, blood type, and/or perhaps some other types of medical data.


RE: You have to start somewhere
By afkrotch on 2/5/2009 1:12:18 PM , Rating: 2
Umm...a good chunk of your biography is already out there on the web. When you were born, where you were born, what high school you graduated from, what college, where you live, what state you live in, your blood type, whether you're a donor or not, etc. Hell, millions of ppl have already willingly put that information out there too. Check Facebook or Myspace.

Giving relevant info for proper authorities to use in a single location can be a good thing. It's not like they're gonna put your daily lifestyle information into the card, nor even care.

I'd personally love to see everyone's fingerprint put into a national database. Sure would make catching criminals easier.


RE: You have to start somewhere
By Xerstead on 2/5/2009 3:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
Aside from the cost, one of the issues is how many people can access your data. Law enforcement would be hard to argue against but they have the means anyway. Add in council staff, social care, private security firms etc... Considering staff turn over, plus friends/associates of those people opens a huge data security hole. Our local governments already sell our name & address to marketing firms without our permission. Whats to stop them from using the rest.
As for Data integrity, *cough*
All it would take is for one typo or box ticked incorrectly by a Data entry temp worker or hacker to cause the system to fail you.
There are frequent reports of 'Secure' data being found on hardware on eBay, government departments loosing hard disks somewhere, laptops left in a taxi etc... I doubt ALL storage of our personal data will be more secure than these.

The information about us is possibly already out there, but not in one place. To allow almost anyone access to Name, date of birth, Parents, Address history, Bank details, School/ empoyment history, Childrens details etc, is just opening the doors to basic ID theft.

Those for the ID card scheme just brand you a criminal if you even try discussing it. 'What have you got to hide?' is the only response I've had dispite raising several valid points.
For the police to have a fingerprint database is a stronger argument, but this goes much further and puts information in the hands of un-vetted civilians.


RE: You have to start somewhere
By MrPoletski on 2/10/2009 10:17:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's not like they're gonna put your daily lifestyle information into the card, nor even care.


Not YET. Remember 1984, it's a warning, not a blueprint.

quote:
I'd personally love to see everyone's fingerprint put into a national database. Sure would make catching criminals easier.


Absolutely, you don't need ID cards for that though and you can't do much with stolen fingerprint data either.

Giving the government everything is an utter mistake though. For example, over in the USA you've recently had some issue with voter caging. Where voters were sent letters they were required to respond to, with ID, to remain eligable to vote. Well of course they were sent to neighbourhoods where they knew people would be either unlikely to produce ID or would just ignore the letter.. either way where there would be a high catchment of voter roll rejections. This was combined with the knowledge of an areas prevailing vote and hence you're influencing an election outcome unfairly.

well imagine if the government had one excel spreadsheet where they would filter via many previously unavailable or incomplete demographics to separate out all people they believe to be voting one particular way, then instigate policy that targets them for voting difficulty/ineligability.

It's not hard, poorer people tend to vote for socialist types and richer people for conservative types.

Governments trying this sort of thing is far from new either. Thatcher did it with the poll tax, the GOP with voter caging, our future government with .....


RE: You have to start somewhere
By MrPoletski on 2/10/2009 9:55:13 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I wonder if US citizens will so willingly give up their privacy ?? I would like to see an ID that has some type of biometric data other than just a photo; but to contain biographical info??? NO!!


Well I could go on about warrantless wiretapping and crap.. but that'd be besides the point that:

Boy you'd be making a serious misjudgement if you thought *I* (a British citizen) would give up my privacy like that, or any of my freedom... and I am far from the only one.

I stand by the statement that: "Those who would sacrifice a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both"

besides, with this ID card crap, it's not so much about the fact the government knowing tons of stuff about me I might not want to tell them.

It's the fact that there is a wealth of information that can be used in an innumerable number of criminal ways by unscrupulous individuals. That wealth of information has been taken/copied off my person (which is fairly hack proof) and put into a giant bag marked 'SWAG'.

Then I have to rely on somebody else to keep my information out of the hands of people I don't want having it. No thanks, all it takes is one laptop left in a bar. Will it happen? it's happened before, it'll happen again.

Not to mention that they have stated that some of the information will be SOLD to private companies. AS IF!

I'll see the rest of you REAL Britons in jail for refusing this card.


By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/5/2009 12:31:39 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
States IPS's Hiller, "We have always said that we would roll out the scheme incrementally. The card will not be as useful as it could be until we have got the volumes out there.


Isn't that what they argued here? No point having the readers until there were more cards out there?


RE: You have to start somewhere
By MrPoletski on 2/10/2009 9:43:23 AM , Rating: 2
Or you could dump the whole sceme and spend money on something that will actually produce a net reduction in crime. Like more police patrolling the streets in the inner cities. Given a £25k wage (average for about 2 years bobbing on the beat) and a cost of 6 billion quid.

Well a little bit of math says that would pay for 24,000 more police officers on our streets for ten years .

I think 24,000 more cops wandering around our inner cities would do a hell of a lot more to reduce crime than preventing people from faking their identity... over a ten year period.

Hell I'd even go as far as to say that's overkill and we wouldn't need even half that many IMHO.


UK vs US
By Screwballl on 2/5/2009 9:52:31 AM , Rating: 3
Look at what is happening in the UK today... and expect it in California tomorrow, and much of the rest of the US the day after...




RE: UK vs US
By luseferous on 2/5/2009 10:57:26 AM , Rating: 3
I doubt it will actually happen. For one it is far too unpopular and our current shambolic governing party is also unpopular and needs to try and win the next general Election.
I suspect that it will be queitly dropped sometime in the next couple of years.

Even if the scheme does come into effect the govenment agencies are so inept at IT (especially security) that organised crime will have better access to the info than government. Going on past form some civil servant will just copy the main database to a local laptop then leave it on a bus.


RE: UK vs US
By PrinceGaz on 2/5/2009 7:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
Are you implying that here in Britain, there is a long history of mismanagement of government IT projects, and dreadful security?

Remarks like laptops and things being left on buses are misleading in the extreme and portray Britain in a bad way, because they along with unencrypted memory sticks and top-secret documents are usually left not on buses but on trains. And let's not forget the internal mail system where CDs and DVDs are routinely sent willy-nilly packed with complete database dumps and go missing in transit, so another one then needs to be sent (what happened to the first is of some concern, but not a major problem so long as the discs are delivered in time).

But I am confident that our national ID card scheme will be of some benefit in some way. Obviouslly it is costing billions of pounds and history suggests it may have certain problems, but I'm sure that eventually it will be in a semi-functional state that may be of some use provided additional resources are made available to develop it. Either that or it will be scrapped when it is billions over budget and years behind schedule, which will be beneficial as by scrapping it we will be saving money that would otherwise have to be spent on a project doomed to failure.

Yay for British government IT projects! A lesson the rest of the world can learn from :p


RE: UK vs US
By Dorz on 2/5/2009 8:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot to mention the London Ambulance Service fiasco of 1992....http://www.savive.com/casestudy/londonambulance.ht... .

Studied this at uni as part of my Systems Analysis and Design course. Its shocking how the government cannot make a functional computer system and I am totally unsurprised at the above story. You only have to go onto the Job Centre website to see how badly implemented it is; You search for jobs in say London and half of the jobs shown to you are from a completely unrelated part of the country 100 odd miles away.......Thee government relies FAR too much on SSADM

If the above gets out to the general press which I'm sure it will then it will be just another nail in the coffin of an incompetent government. Trouble is none of the parties seem that competent.


Terrible article
By martinrichards23 on 2/5/2009 10:48:22 AM , Rating: 5
My god this article is terrible!

Clearly by someone who has some third hand information and thinks that makes them the authority on a given topic.




RE: Terrible article
By Bubbacub on 2/5/2009 6:44:04 PM , Rating: 2
look at who wrote it and you won't be so surprised!


Spending
By Machinegear on 2/5/2009 9:52:36 AM , Rating: 2
Bah, it's not a waste of money...no, no. The Brits simply need to take a page from the US and call this a 'stimulus' package.




RE: Spending
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 2/5/2009 11:00:33 AM , Rating: 2
Well, it does help push a country to a more socialistic society.... You may be onto something..


RE: Spending
By twjr on 2/6/2009 12:02:58 AM , Rating: 2
It has nothing to do with socialist society; you mean it creates a more authoritarian society.


This is News???
By ccmfreak2 on 2/5/2009 11:04:50 AM , Rating: 4
I don't even understand why this article is even posted. Is it really a waste of British tax payers money?

quote:
The government plans to start issuing the cards to all airport workers and international volunteers later this year and to gradually roll them out to the rest of the population.


Of course they don't have card readers yet! There aren't even any cards out yet! Why should the British Police buy a bunch of readers for their departments if they are going to sit and collect dust for at least the better part of a year? It would be wasteful to buy them now when the departments can't even use them. And any waranty that might come with the device would come close to expiring before they even put it into use.

The article is certainly interesting and entertaining, but false in it's subtitle's assertions.




RE: This is News???
By Xerstead on 2/5/2009 3:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
Warranty? There will of course be a very profitable service contract for the companies involved. More waste of our money.


Not a waste of money?
By fleaweb on 2/5/2009 4:28:52 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand the comments that this program is not a waste of money, it's already cost 4.7 Billion Pounds, the cards aren't out yet, and there's no way to read the advanced features on them.
If that's not a waste of money I know someone by the name of Madoff who can invest yer money for you.




RE: Not a waste of money?
By Alexstarfire on 2/5/2009 8:41:36 PM , Rating: 2
So R&D must also be a waste of money as well. I mean, Intel uses millions upon millions, if not billions, of dollars to fund research for it's new processors before they ever even make a working prototype. Same can be said about AMD and nVidia for GPUs


it's a stimulus package
By Murloc on 2/5/2009 10:21:02 AM , Rating: 2
they are helping plastic and chipmaking industries by ordering useless products.




Next step...
By abitofgo on 2/5/2009 3:18:59 PM , Rating: 2
Devalue the currency and move to a cash less society. ;)

ID cards will be perfect for secure issuing of rations.




Copycats
By Loadcontroller on 2/5/09, Rating: -1
RE: Copycats
By Worby on 2/5/2009 10:01:23 AM , Rating: 2
err.....

ok

whatever


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