Feeds

Private sector saviours wanted for desperate ID scheme

Home Office chucks in the cards?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Plans for the widespread introduction of fingerprint passports and ID cards, already delayed until 2012, have receded further into the distance with the publication of the latest Identity & Passport Service cost report for the ID scheme. This effectively pulls the plugs on the network of IPS-run interview centres, and lobs future responsibility for these and for biometric enrolment over to private sector companies.

This however seems more a case of wishing the private sector would rescue the project than having actual companies straining at the leash. Not, erm, unless you pay them. The report claims a cost decrease of £975 million over the life of the scheme to 2017, but IPS has achieved this by creative accounting and merrily chucking biometrics off into the middle distance in the hope that somebody will catch. The report lists "gross costs, the majority of which will be covered by income from products and services... this income... depends on the future fee strategy and the emerging market in identity services."

The initial USPs of the ID scheme were a 'new, clean database' and biometric ID, and it was the Home Office's intention to position IPS as the UK's official identity broker, thus enabling it to make revenue from that very "emerging market". But with the clean database abandoned, and fingerprint biometrics now highly doubtful, there's little of obvious use that IPS can offer that market. Apart from money.*

The entirely absurd interview centres that have yet to catch a fraudster were originally intended to be rolled out to all passport applicants, and subsequently to provide venues for biometric enrolment, but according to the report the cost of replacing the current passport application system has been reduced, and: "We now plan to provide this through the open market."

The cost report is silent on how this will happen, but it seems logical that IPS would contract out the interviews and seek to offload its current network of interview centres to private sector partners. It will still have a need for a biometric ID card enrolment capability from 2009, unless it abandons plans to make ID cards for selected groups compulsory, starting with airport workers, but it now seems almost certain that this will be handled via a private sector contractor. How it proposes to handle the planned 2012 general rollout is anybody's guess.

The report does concede that despite its claim of near term savings, the overall cost of the scheme has increased, but the extra costs have effectively been shifted towards the tail end of the ten year period by postponing the general rollout to 2012. By 2017, if we're going on previous experience we'll have been through another six or seven Home Secretaries, so this isn't a matter likely to concern the current incumbent. ®

* Historians will recall that David Blunkett advanced the merits of the clean database, the "100 per cent secure" biometric ID, and boasted of the UK becoming a world leader in the arena by virtue of the ID scheme. The UK will now get biometric passports of the fingerprint variety (if it gets them at all) later than the rest of the EU, and now looks likely to be severely behind numerous other European countries in achieving biometric ID cards. Outstanding.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.