Tag Archives: Documents

The Future Of Identity will not be found in Britain

Commentary, rants, not warnings of Downtime! Dave Birch runs a blog called Digital Identity to promote his consulting company (CHYP or Consult-Hyperion) which specialises in Money and Identity systems. His recent post on British experiences with Identity things is of interest to people here. Here’s a quick summary:

  • A French ID card can be used to get you a job at Sainsbury’s, but not to buy alcohol.
  • Banks can tell whether local passports are real, but foreign passports are just accepted. Because they can’t tell, they don’t.
  • Remember the Irish Police force’s search for their most wanted speedster: Mr Prawo Jazdy. Once they translated the term into “driving licence” in Polish … all became clear.
  • A car owner was arrested because his new form was a slightly different colour. The registration people thought it was a forgery and called the police…
  • You can call the UK Border hotline to confirm a national ID card. They will tell you “to ask [your] customer for a ‘second proof of identity’.”
  • It’s a smart card, and the smart way to check it is “to flick the card and listen for a distinctive sound, if they doubt the card’s authenticity.”
  • More here on how it is easier to get a bank account if you are a criminal or a foreigner than a poor unidentified person.

That’s all good fun! We know where all this is going … indeed, one of the strengths of the CAcert Assurance Process is just this. Working with the documents might be called a competence of CAcert, if we were into management-speak.

Read the whole article for the fuller picture; it’s fun. One thing I will disagree with Dave on is his recommendation that there be a digital solution that either works or it doesn’t. Although I frequently remind people that, in a well designed security system, “There is only one mode, and it is secure,” I think actually it is a hopeless goal to expect the British government to field such a system. They will create a pink elephant.

Far better for new identity systems to emerge from the marketplace. As suggested by Dave, this is likely to be the mobile phone. We are around 80% of the way there; and with things like Android, the other 20% is now on the marketplace. Soon enough…