LONDON: Campaigners against the proposed ID cards warned that the cards could lead to massive increase in identity fraud. They cited the case in Holland where data from a prototype biometric passport was “skimmed” and the experts who performed the act had full access to personal information, including fingerprints, a digital photo and date of birth of the passport holder.
The Dutch system uses the same RFID technology, which the British home department is also intending to use for the proposed ID cards.
A group campaigning against the ID card system, NO2ID, says if the faults are not successfully rectified in the proposed system, it could lead to a massive increase in identity frauds.
The organisation also described the proposal to fit radio transmitters in ID cards as a method of spying. However, the government has clarified that the chip is meant for scanners at airports to read the cards.
NO2ID experts from Riscure security lab in Delft, Holland, had decrypted data in the passport with a high-tech gadget and relayed it to a PC.
A spokesperson for NO2ID said the ID cards will help perpetrators of identity theft. “Numbering and indexing every person in the country on a huge central register, then making us use cards designed to broadcast not only this number but our personal data, including our biometrics, will be an absolute bonanza for identity thieves and fraudsters,” he said.
A Home Office spokesperson denied the charges by NO2ID, saying these were full of inaccuracies. She said NO2ID failed to mention that the Dutch biometric passport was a test system under development and that “key to cracking the system was the lack of sophistication in allocating passport document numbers, which is not the case with UK passports.
“Information in the e-passport, which the UK Passport Service will start to issue later this year, will be protected using an international standard.”
Meanwhile, in a candid admission, home office minister Andy Burnham said identity fraud now costs Britain 1.7 billion pounds a year. Burnham added the increase underlined the need for the proposed ID cards scheme.
He said the scheme will provide a vital link with a personal biometric, that being a fingerprint or an eye scan. “Once you link personal facts and figures – address, name, date of birth – to a unique personal stamp, people will have much greater control over the issue of their identity. In fact, that will be the key to use of their personal details.”
Defending the system, he said under the biometric, people can register only one identity while one of the points about identity fraud is people can and do register multiple identities.
It is proposed that from August, all new British passports will be “e-passports” with embedded biometric data, based on facial characteristics like distances between the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.