The Home Office and UK Passport Office Biometric trial has been announced.
Why did they not do this before publishing the ID/Entitlement card consultation process over 2 years ago ?
The Government obviously has no clue about wether the technology can work reliably or its likely costs.
How on earth can true costs of the ID Card project even be guesstimated when there still is no clear idea of which Biometric Identifier technology or combination of different technologies is planned to be used ? Is it to be Digital Photgraph/Facial Recognition, and/or Single/Dual Iris Scan(s) and/or Single/10 digits Fingerprint Scan(s) ? Each option varies significantly in cost, complexity, security and the effect it will have on lengthening queues.
A mere 10,000 user trial is simply not good enough to extrapolate the costs and scalability of the systems to cope with the 48 million UK Passport holders, let alone the 60 million plus ID Cards needed for every legal person in the UK.
Home Office Press release 356/2003:
LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR THE IDENTITY CARD SCHEME
"The Government took the first steps today to lay the foundations for a compulsory identity card scheme, as it launched a trial of biometric technology involving 10,000 volunteers.
The six-month trial run by the UK Passport Service (UKPS) will test facial, iris and fingerprint recording and recognition. Each volunteer will receive a personalised smart card carrying both printed and electronic information. Results from the trial will help inform the Government?s plans to introduce biometric passports and driving licences, and build a base for the national identity card scheme.
Home Office Minister, Beverley Hughes, said:
"Through identity cards, the Government is determined to put Britain at the forefront of international developments in the use of biometrics to protect our citizens from identity theft and to prevent abuse of our immigration system.
"We are building the foundations for a compulsory national identity card scheme, and are moving ahead with the development and testing of this cutting-edge technology.
"This large-scale trial into the practicalities of recording and verifying biometrics will play an important part in that process. The issuing of upgraded biometric passports from 2005 will help build the base for the identity card scheme.
"By using biometric data, linked to a national database, we can provide a modern, secure means of confirming identity, helping us to crack down on identity fraud, immigration abuse, illegal working and organised crime. We will also be in a much better position to ensure that our free public services are only used by those who are actually entitled to them."
Chief Executive of UKPS, Bernard Herdan, said:
"The biometric trial is an important stepping stone in developing the use of biometrics in the British passport and the national identity card scheme. The trial will help us understand how the enrolment of biometrics will work, what it will cost, and how our customers will react. Biometrics will further enhance the security features of passports and are an essential element in the UKPS drive to strengthen identity authentication and reduce identity fraud and related crimes."
Working in close collaboration with the Home Office and the DVLA, the UKPS will carry out the trials at various locations involving a representative group of the UK population. The pilot, which will run from January to June 2004, will employ four fixed, one mobile and one portable unit. The technical delivery will be undertaken under contract by SchlumbergerSema, and the recruitment of volunteers will be managed by MORI.
The UKPS intends to begin issuing passports incorporating a chip holding a facial biometric in mid-2005.
Notes to Editors:
The UK Passport Service (UKPS) signed a contract with SchlumbergerSema on 27 November 2003 to deliver the six-month biometric enrolment pilot, to be carried out from January to June 2004. Over a six-month period 10,000 volunteers will have their facial, iris and fingerprint personal identifiers ? known as biometrics ? enrolled.
The objectives of the UKPS biometric pilot are:
- to test the use of biometrics through a simulation of the passport process;
- to include exceptional cases, e.g. people who may have difficulties in enrolment;
- to measure the process time and hence estimate costs;
- to assess customer perceptions and reactions;
- to assess practical aspects of incorporation of biometrics into a biometric database;
- to trial the use of biometrics to prevent duplicate identities;
- to test fingerprint and iris biometrics for one-to-many identification and facial recognition - for one-to-one verification; and to identify issues and risks and produce an outline implementation plan.
The UKPS and SchlumbergerSema are in the process of selecting the sites for the biometrics trial, which will include a passport office. The locations of the other three fixed sites will be decided during the course of the trial. The mobile and portable units will enable the UKPS to cover other parts of the country.
The recruitment of volunteers will be managed by MORI to ensure a representative sample of the UK population. Any requests to take part in the trial should be directed to Melanie Briere, MORI, on telephone number 020 7347 3023 / email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facial recognition, iris pattern and fingerprint images were nominated the most suitable biometrics for use at border controls and passport issuance by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in May 2003.
One-to-one verification is where identity is checked against a document to ensure that the holder is the person it was issued to (e.g. comparing the facial image on the identity card against the person or against the database). For one-to-many identification the biometric (iris pattern or fingerprint) is compared against a database to verify a person?s identity. Such a check would reveal any previous application, preventing issuance of documents to the same person under different identities.
The UKPS will implement initially a facial recognition biometric (which can be derived from a passport photograph) in the British Passport book in accordance with emerging international standards in 2005. The UKPS is giving consideration to include a secondary biometric, either the image of the bearer's iris or fingers, in a later version of the passport. The UKPS will subsequently launch a passport card also holding biometric information.
The Government is planning to start introducing identity cards on a phased basis from 2007/08. Together with the incremental roll-out of biometric passports and driving licences, this would mean that that 80% of the economically active population could be covered within five years.
The UKPS is also in partnership with SchlumbergerSema for facilities management of the UKPS administration IT system. For further information on SchlumbergerSema, visit www.schlumbergersema.com.
The contract award will be announced in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in due course.
For further information, please contact the Home Office Press Office on 020 7273 4545."