Saturday, February 25, 2006

The True Motive for Identity Cards

Many security experts have expressed some doubts whether the UK's proposed ID card scheme will be able to satisfy the security goals that the supporters of the scheme use to justify the absurd (and secretive) levels of cost and risk.

The official goals apparently include the elimination of terrorism, and the elimination of certain forms of bank fraud (misleadingly known as identity theft).

On the POSIWID blog, we have previously expressed some cynicism about these goals. If the ID card scheme is not going to achieve the official goals, then there must be some other (unofficial) goals. Which they can't tell us about, obviously.

So POSIWID thinking often leads us to suspect a hidden agenda.

But there is another interpretation. If the ID card scheme were combined with a number of other measures (including DNA testing), then it might be able to do more. For example, recent research indicates that there is a gene that is linked to religious belief. Perhaps the ID card will reveal (to appropriately authorized policemen, at a distance of no more than 20 metres) whether I possess this gene.

The ID card scheme doesn't itself satisfy the security goals, but it may provide a useful platform for a range of other security measures. These other security measures will then become inevitable, because that's the only way to justify the money that has already been spent.

(Governments are generally unable to practise zero-based budgeting, because there is too much loss of face in admitting that money has been wasted, so they are forced to waste even more money. Sometimes political accountability is counter-productive.)

Is there a cunning plan here?

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1 comment:

Scribe said...

The idea of "profiling" is one of those concepts that not many people seem to realise can be done, yet come into contact with every day. The same basic ideas behind Amazon wishlists, loyalty cards and "when the bank rings you to find out if that's really you spending" is quite scalable to other environments, as noted here:

More public demonstrations of what can be done - what can be *surmised* about people - from the public data they leave lying around is definitely needed to make people sit up and take notice.