Monday, March 12, 2007

The great ID card swindle

The tower containing Big Ben, the best known clock in the UK, contains cells especially designed to hold Members of Parliament who have breached parliamentary privilege. I suggest that they now build several more towers with enough cells to lock up a very large number of MPs. Another reason? Yes another reason, this being the fiasco of the proposed Identity Card system with its gross invasion of privacy, lack of security, and the associated sinister database. Now it appears that our worst fears are coming true. In order to pay for the astronomical cost of the disaster the government are willing to make us pay through the nose for a combined passport-identity package. The ‘voluntary’ nature of the scheme fools nobody and if you need to travel at all using a passport, then you will have no choice. As if rubbing salt in the wound, the government also now also propose to cash in, by flogging our details to the nearest commercial company who might be interested.

The Government is already facing a backlash over charging people £93 each for an ID card - which will contain 49 different pieces of personal data.
Now ministers are planning to charge companies around 60p a time to check details held on the giant "big brother" database. They hope for up to 770million "verifications" each year.

The government is already selling the proposal to companies by offering them a scheme to cut millions from fraud bills and saving them the whopping fines they are currently threatened with should they dare to employ asylum seekers and other illegals. The carrot is that these organization will be able to check up data in return for the small sum of 60p and this will provide a one stop shop for information on everybody on the database. Just imagine the potential for abuse. How easy will it be for identity fraudsters to take over an identity that gives them a cast iron hold over someone's finances? At the moment, at least you can persuade people that your identity has been stolen. In the future, it may not be so easy. James Hall, CEO of the Identity and Passport Service, admits that fraudsters will make a beeline for ID cards but says that the technology used will make it harder to fake identities and documents:

"The unique aspect of the biometric identifier will be a very important step in preventing criminals obtaining multiple documents under different identities."

Convinced? What chance will you have if people are taken in by the alleged foolproof nature of the system. If you believe the system is fool proof then you are a fool and here is your proof. The UK biometric passport system has already been cracked! Using a simple RFID reader and special code, data can be siphoned off from a passport within a sealed envelope (like the ones you send to the passport office during renewal). Nobody will know because there will be no need for tampering with the envelope. Once the encryption key has been cracked, cloning the passport is a doddle.

The Home Office deny that this would compromise security, saying that the details still could not be changed. However, how many fraudsters actually want to change the details and how many just want to use it as a cast iron proof of identity? I would suggest that the former is rarely needed if at all, whereas the latter is very common. If you have a cast iron proof of identity, you could open bank accounts and perpetrate all kinds of financial crimes very securely. In any case, do you really want anybody, particularly criminals to have access to your sensitive private details? I think this shows the government's pet project, is itself a major fraud in progress.


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