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Border Agency plans Olympic identity card

Access card to be 'inclusive and far reaching'

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The Border Agency is developing a "pretty inclusive and far reaching" Olympic accreditation card for the 2012 games.

The card will provide access to both the county and to the venues, chief executive Lin Homer told the Secure Document World conference in London on 23 April 2008.

When asked by GC News about the extent of the card's use, Homer said the agency was "in the fairly early stages" of developing it. But she added: "To the extent that we can develop a system that ticks as many boxes as we can, we will do that.

"My hope it that it will be a pretty inclusive and far reaching offering, but we have still got a little bit of time and a lot of work," she added, describing the project as an opportunity to develop processes that can then be used permanently.

Homer said Project Semaphore, the forerunner of the e-Borders scheme which will eventually record extensive data on all international passenger movements, has led to 1,700 arrests. The agency will start procurement of e-Borders this summer.

The agency has no plans to verify the biometrics of everyone entering and leaving the UK. "I don't think as a key public service we would want to oblige (the use of) biometrics," she said.

However, she hopes to expand voluntary use of biometrics at UK borders, such as the Iris scheme which allows those enrolled to clear passport control more quickly by using an automated iris scanner. Homer, who said she is enrolled with Iris, described more voluntary schemes as "a fantastic opportunity" for the agency.

In another session, Bob Carter of the Identity and Passport Service said UK identity cards will use the strengthened Extended Access Control (EAC) protocol to protect data held on card chips.

EAC will be used by European Schengen countries, within which national borders are not normally enforced, for new passports holding scans of at least two fingerprints. All Schengen countries are meant to introduce these by 28 June 2009.

Carter said EAC means that identity document chips will only provide data to readers with valid digital certificates, whereas documents using Basic Access Control – employed by most countries, including at present UK passports – will release data to any device with the correct software. "For the first time, it is the chip which decides if it wants to talk or not to talk," he said. "The chip is in control."

Some security experts have expressed alarm at the standard of security on the current generation of passport chips. However, Carter said he could not discuss any implementation schedule of EAC for UK passports. Germany is already issuing passports using EAC.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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