This is the third part of Gordon Brown's frightful Chatham House speech - "Identity and border controls"
Identity and border controls
The purpose of our forensic accounting is to enhance our ability to identify terror suspects and stop the flows of money on which they rely before they have the chance to strike. To do so we must be able to prove their identity. Yet increasingly terrorists are adopting ever more sophisticated methods of identity fraud both to obtain money and to pursue terrorist action.
Typically, over the last few years, the major terrorist suspects arrested had multiple identities, with some having up to 50 identities.
Most of these "identities" have been foreign identities, something which not even a perfect UK National Identity Register will have any real effect on whatsoever. See "Metropolitan Police Operation Maxim and false foreign Identity Documents"
It is not possible to comment on current court cases.
You have already done this, at the start of this very speech, paragraph 6, referring to the August 10th 2006 plotters !
But we should recall that one September 11th hijacker used 30 false identities simply to obtain credit cards and amass a quarter of a million dollars of debt.
Even a perfect UK National Identity Register will have no effect on this whatsoever.
Why are budget or economy travellers, who happen to have booked a one way airline ticket with cash, immediatly suspected to be suicide terrorists or hijackers, by the "security" database miners ?
Surely any such terrorist could buy a first class ticket (and therefore a seat close to the pilots) with a credit card, since he is not likely to be facing a demand for payment at the end of the month ?
What about fractional ownership or leasing of private corporate jets
And in total identity theft alone costs the UK economy in excess of £1.7 billion a year.
No it does not !!
Come on Gordon, you are meant to be able to add up, as Chancellor of the Exchequer. How can you swallow, without question, innumerate Home Office spin produced by the likes of Andy Burnham and Charles Clarke ?
People rightly demand we must protect their money, their safety and their rights to access public services - and most crucially protect their identities against them being stolen and misused.
The private sector are responding. Where once we used signatures, birth certificates and now PIN codes to pay for products in supermarkets, enter buildings, access their phone, email, computer, and bank accounts, we will soon be able to efficiently and conveniently use both digital scanning of fingerprints and digital scanning of the unique patterns in the iris of the eye.
Computer companies are already developing the most sophisticated fingerprint technology to control access to computers.
There are only a few, strictly limited scenarios where this provides any worthwhile extra security.
In California supermarket shoppers are paying with a finger-scan at the check out.
Only because of the novelty or their stupidity - you leave copies of your fingerprints on many things which you touch, including the fingerprint reader. These can be "lifted" and used to make "phantom purchases", by corrupt retail staff insiders etc.
Now an American company has developed a safe that can be installed in the home that is opened using your fingerprint.
That might possibly be of some use to people who wear gloves all the time, and do not leave copies of their fingerprints on any of their possessions at home.
A traditional metal key in your pocket is a far safer security measure, at least you are unlikely to keep making copies of it and leaving them around your home !
And this month a new library is due to open in Japan using palm-vein technology for book check-outs.
Why bother ?
What is wrong with a normal Library Card, with a barcode, or even a SmartCard ?
In the public sector, biometrics - not just fingerprints, but iris recognition - are already in use in our border controls, as we strengthen the powers and surveillance capability of our border guards and security officers and giving them the technology they need.
They do not "need" this technology, we "need" physically more border control human beings on duty.
A trial programme of iris recognition is already underway, with 1,000 people enrolling each week at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.
Only because they are promised less delay caused by bureaucratic security theatre "controls".
If every traveller used these systems, there would be no advantage, just longer queues for everyone.
And we are now moving to the next stage - this week expanding the piloting of instantaneous checking of fingerprints overseas - so rather than having to deal with them when they get here, we can stop people travelling under false identities before even embarking for Britain.
Only on a racially discriminatory basis against Sri Lankans.
Why not use, say, US citizens or Australians, as guinea pigs for this system ?
In this new environment we need to have in place the best systems for knowing who is coming in and out of our country and for assuring each citizen that their identity is their own and not abused by someone else.
How exactly are you planning to assure me that my own identity is my own ?
So we will move towards an integrated electronic border security system, linking biometric passports and visas with electronic checks on entry and exit - helping us track and intercept terrorists and criminals, seeking to prevent them, stop illegal immigration and increasing the safety of all legitimate travellers.
And I believe that most people agree that if there are acceptable safeguards to protect civil liberties in these areas, there are advantages in a national identity scheme that could not just provide a common, fraud resistant, proof of identity --rather than repeating and relying on an ad hoc mixture of checks on birth certificates, passports, driving licenses, PIN numbers, signatures and passwords and help us disrupt terrorists and criminals traveling on forged or stolen identities - but, more fundamentally, protect each citizen's identity and prevent it being forged or stolen.
A mixture of different forms of identification is much more secure than an "all eggs in one basket" Single Point of Failure which the Government's centralised database must inevitably become, with respect to
Building in full protections for our privacy and civil liberties, John Reid and I are also determined that we should fully harness the power and value of this technology - through a new partnership between public and private sectors.
What are these "full protections for our privacy and civil liberties" ? An annual report to the Home Secretary, not directly to Parliament, by a powerless National Identity Scheme Commissioner, which can be censored by the Government, if there is anything too embarassing in it ? How is that "full protection" ?
And I can state today that the public-private forum I set up which is led by Sir James Crosby, former Chief Executive of HBOS - will report to the Home Secretary and me at the time of the Budget. It will report in particular on banking, retail, transport and outsourced business services - and in each of these areas will suggest how, by working together, we join up systems for verifying identities and protect against theft and reduce inconvenience; and we develop secure multi-channel communications so that people can interface with both businesses and public agencies on-line and by telephone as well as by post or in person.
We can do this already, without the need for another layer of bureaucracy and the massive expense and inconvenience of the proposed National Identity Register.
And as Sir James examines these issues we will also have to deal with any potential conflicts of interest that might arise when public and private partnerships are introduced and ensure that civil liberties of individuals are protected.