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Wed, 29th Jun 2005 — Even Bigger Brother, No2ID Public Meeting

In stark contrast to the government's failure to openly discuss their proposals, No2ID will be holding a public meeting to discuss the contents and implications of the UK Identity Card Bill. Speakers will include:
  • Rt Hon Tony Benn
  • Dominic Grieve QC, MP
  • Lynne Featherstone MP
  • George Galloway MP, and
  • Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti;
Mark Littlewood of No2ID will be in the Chair

Discussions will pick up on the poorly publicised and less understood parts of the Identity Cards Bill that form the heart of the government's proposals: the National Identity Register, a vast database of over 60 million people's personal information and biometrics, and the audit trail that will record when and where any check is made on the Register, effectively building up a profile of a persons daily activity.

The meeting is free and open to all. However, space is limited. Register, and confirm your place

No2ID welcomes anyone regardless of their previous knowledge or understanding of the issues, and especially urges those who are undecided or interested in knowing more to come along.

Date: Wednesday, 29th June 2005
Time: 7:00pm

Venue: (Venue map, Google map)
University of Westminster
Old Cinema
309 Regent's Street

Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus (4mins away)
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[Blunkett] also maintained that improvements in electronic thumb or fingerprint technology or even "iris-prints" meant the threat of forgery would not make the system redundant.
Iris codes are a very effective identification technology. They scare the crap out of me. This BBC news story provides a summary of how they work:

More information is provided in Section 13.5 of Ross Anderson, "Security Engineering". Here's some tidbits.

They're devastatingly accurate. With any identification system, you can trade off "false accepts" (accepting someone who is not who they say they are) against "false rejects" (rejecting someone who is who they say they are). With iris codes, if you're prepared to put up with a false reject rate of one in ten thousand, you can get a false accept rate of less than one in a trillion.

Unlike fingerprints, iris codes have a very simple structure. As a result, they can be compared very rapidly, and they're not limited to checking that you are who you say you are - it's practical to look up who you are in a database using your iris code. The Nationwide Building Society piloted a cash machine for which no cards were needed - the machine looked you up in their database using your iris code.

An iris code database for the whole of the UK would fit onto any new PC.

Iris code scanners will be very cheap - they're just a simple low-res digital camera with a fixed-focus lens and fixed exposure. You put your eye in just the right place, close to the lens, and it takes a photograph. However, Anderson says
There's no technical reason why a camera could not acquire the iris from a distance of several feet [...] - it would just cost a bit more - but that brings Orwellian overtones of automatic recognition of individuals passing in a crowd.
Mirrorshades or vanity contact lenses would stop this at the moment. But existing vanity contact lens printing techniques are not fine grained enough to allow me to pass as someone else in an iris code test.

In summary, they might decide they don't need to issue us with ID cards. They may just use the two ID cards we carry with us every day.

Update: More commentary from Ross Anderson


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Paul Crowley

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