03 September 2009

UK: Bye-Bye Biometrics

I missed this during the summer lull, but that handy invention, Twitter (in the form of Oliver Morton), has alerted me to this stunning take-down of the UK's Identity & Passport Service's plans to place biometric systems at the heart of its service:

Here at the end of the review, the adventitious question arises of why do politicians and civil servants all over the world continue to advocate the use of biometrics when the evidence simply doesn’t support them? There is no answer. Their behaviour is inexplicable.

One thing is clear, though, and that is that biometrics cannot deliver. Identification is not feasible. Verification is laughably unreliable. And the flat earther David Blunkett is wrong. So is Tony Blair when he says that “biometrics give us the chance to have secure identity”. And so is Gordon Brown when he says that biometrics “will make it possible to securely link an individual to a unique identity”.

The scale of the institutional fantasy which constitutes the NIS is grotesque. Biometrics cannot underpin the NIS and so, by IPS’s logic, the NIS cannot underpin the “interactions and transactions between individuals, public services and businesses”. Safeguarding Identity is a false prospectus – no properly managed stock exchange would allow its shares to be listed. The NIS is guaranteed to fail.

Assuming the many figures quoted in this detailed analysis are correct - and I have no reason to doubt that they are - I feel positively cheerful at the prospect of the total and utter collapse of this ill-advised and ill-thought-out scheme. It seems that the awesome laws of physics, if nothing else, will protect us against the awful laws of this demented and delusional government.

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