Feeds

Biometrics won't fix data loss problems

Academics attack government untruths on ID

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Six leading academics have written to a Parliamentary committee to express their dismay at the way biometrics has been used as a magic wand which would have supposedly stopped Darling's great data giveaway.

The six said of claims by the Prime Minister and his Chancellor: "These assertions are based on a fairy-tale view of the capabilities of the technology and in addition, only deal with one aspect of the problems that this type of data breach causes."

Both Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling claimed, after the loss of CDs containing 25m recipients of child benefit, that the data would somehow be protected by biometric information if we had national ID cards.

The letter points out that this is based on three suppositions - that the entire UK population can be enrolled on the database; that no one can forge biometric information; and finally that every ID check would include checks against biometric information on the national database.

The letter said:

Even if, in this fairy-tale land, it came to pass that (a) (b) and (c) were true after all (which we consider most unlikely), the proposed roll-out of the National Identity Scheme would mean that this level of 'protection' would not - on the Home Office's own highly optimistic projections - be extended to the entire population before the end of the next decade (i.e. 2020) at the earliest.

The academics also note that including biometric information on a national ID register would make such records even more valuable to fraudsters, and once compromised make "fixing" the problem even more difficult.

The inclusion of biometric data in one's NIR record would make such a record even more valuable to fraudsters and thieves as it would - if leaked or stolen - provide the 'key' to all uses of that individual's biometrics (e.g. accessing personal or business information on a laptop, biometric access to bank accounts, etc.) for the rest of his or her life. Once lost, it would be impossible to issue a person with new fingerprints. One cannot change one's fingers as one can a bank account.

The six academics also point out that leaking such personal data is not just a question of hassle for people but could be potentially fatal for "the directors of Huntingdon Life Sciences, victims of domestic violence or former Northern Ireland ministers".

The open letter, available here, was sent to Andrew Dismore MP, chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

The academics behind the letter include Professor Ross Anderson and Dr Richard Clayton of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, and Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute. Other signers include Dr Brian Gladman, formerly of the Ministry of Defence and NATO, Professor Angela Sasse of UCL's Department of Computer Science and Martyn Thomas CBE FREng. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.