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Chip and PIN for UK ID?

Thursday 16 April 2009

Considering the current situation, whether and when will the UK citizens be able to use the national ID as EMV cards remains a question. Analyst Guy Herbert comments that “the current strategy is to find a way to keep the Home Office's identification empire going under an incoming hostile administration. Chip and PIN for identity cards is just another distraction so you won't notice the bureaucratic monster being fed in the shadows.”

Early in the 2008, 10 principles were set out for a viable and acceptable ID scheme, including:

  • The purpose of any scheme should be restricted to that of enabling citizens to assert their identity with ease and confidence.
  • Enrolment and any tokens should be provided free of charge.
  • As a matter of principle, the amount of data stored should be minimized

All of which according to Guy Herbert are broken by the Home Office's model.

Home Office has issued half as many ID cards for foreign nationals in the first four months than expected. When the card was launched in late November ministers predicted that between 40,000 and 50,000 non-EU nationals would have cards by the end of March 2009. But by the end of last week 22,500 cards had been issued. Until now there are no readers capable of scanning these cards' chips in place, and they will not be ready until they are introduced at UK border entry points next year, according to silicon.com.

Despite the delay and the lack of readers, IPS is replacing and upgrading its contracts for processing passport applications, which are due to expire in 2009 and 2010, and creating a new secure database for storing the facial and fingerprint images. Together they will support the introduction of ID cards and allow for vital improvements to the next generation of biometric passports.

After a lengthy procurement process, which started with 50 prospective bidders companies in September 2007, CSC, a US-based global IT business solution provider has been awarded a GBP 385 million (EUR 428 million) contract to upgrade IPS’ application and enrolment system which will provide:

  • a new system for processing applications for both passports and ID cards,
  • the ability for customers to apply online,
  • improved background checking for applications,
  • new systems to report lost and stolen passports and ID cards,
  • support for customers updating their personal data,
  • new IT and telephony systems for IPS.

IBM was awarded a GBP 265 million (EUR 295 million) contract to continue existing UKBA fingerprinting capabilities and to build and run the database that will store the facial images and fingerprints that are needed to keep the passport in line with international standard, as well as to support the delivery of the ID card. It will provide:

  • a database to store the fingerprint and facial biometrics of applicants for passports and ID cards,
  • a replacement for the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint System (IAFS) which holds biometrics collected from visa applicants.