Why our police can’t read the new ID cards, but our hackers can


Originally uploaded by opexxx

It’s been a bad week for ID cards. The UK government admitted on Thursday that neither its police nor its border guards had any current capacity to read or store the biometric data that is held on the damned things. Responding to a Freedom of Information request by the tech site silicon.com, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) revealed that “no police stations, border entry points or job centres have readers for the card’s biometric chip”, that despite the fact that ID cards have been issued to foreign nationals in November last year, with the IPS expecting to issue 50,000 ID cards by April.

Elsewhere, hackers in the US said that they had built a mobile platform that can clone large numbers of the unique electronic identifiers used in US passport cards – using off-the-shelf equipment costing just $250. UK hackers have already done something similar.

Quite apart from the many moral objections to the ID card – and the astronomical cost of issuing them, – it seems that, according to a growing body of evidence, the cards are not even fit for purpose: recording and storing our biometric data.

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