29 September 2008

ID Cards: Hope and Hopelessness

There's hope:

academic John Daugman, a former member of the Biometrics Assurance Group (BAG), which reviewed the scheme, said its reliance on fingerprints and facial photos to verify a person's identity will cause the system to collapse under the weight of mismatched identifications.

Daugman, an expert on iris recognition, said fingerprints and facial photos are not distinctive enough for telling the UK's 45-million-strong adult population apart.

Daugman said that, even if the error rate was as low as one in a million, the 10 to the power of 15 comparisons needed to verify the indentities of 45 million people would result in one billion false matches.

And there's hopelessness:

Speaking at the launch of the UK's first ID cards on Thursday, home secretary Jacqui Smith claimed problems with taking or recognising fingerprints pose no threat to the effectiveness of the ID-card system.

Presumably because the whole scheme will be utterly ineffectual anyway....

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