Thursday, May 22, 2008

biometric - dont let the tech speak bamboozle you

governments (well the british government) likes to pretend it is up-to-date and techie, when in fact we all know that thatcher, major, blair and brown are all pretty technophobe and so there's no real comprehension at the top of the food chain, and since most civil servants train at oxford doing PPE (politics philosophy and economics) rather than at Cambridge doing NatSci (natural sciences - or medicine - where people get jobs in the Real World), the mandarins of White Hall are pretty useless - this is why they keep proposing idiotic things like ID cards, the NHS IT programme, and biometric passports (and the reason the write such bad RFPs and get no-one bidding is that anyone with an ounce of real business skill can stand looking down the river east of the houses of parliament and see a 100 places where they can get a job with 10 times the power and 25 times the income.

so. biometrics. what's that about then?

well, a photo is a biometric. bio - life. metric - measure. so its like a piece of information gathered about you hopefully something a third party (not you or the person who made the passport) can study and compare with the True Life version they can get from you - this then means that they trust who you are because they trust the person issuing the passport checked who you are and only gave you the passport since the other info (birthday, place, citizenship etc) were entitled to, and that the passport cannot be fiddled with (affordably) and that you can't be fiddled with (affordably).

so. basically, voodoo then. I mean who really understands DNA or Iris scans or finger prints or retina scans ? who understands encryption? who understands challenge response protocols or redundent coding of information?

well, I suppose we do. But we don't work for the government, do we? so why do you believe they'd get it right?

but it is all voodoo, because basically the government likes things that sounds technical (remember ghost busters?: "back off: I'm a scientist", and "it's technical".

No, next time someone says we must have biometric NHS entitlement ID cards, point out
1/ bio-washing powerder has been shown to cause rashes in some people, so how do we know bio-metric cards wont casuse rashes? have they been tested? have the RFID readers been checked that they don't cause cancer?
2/ we havn't gone metric in the UK yet in all things (e.g. road distances, measures of beer) so why should we go metric in identity? We still have feet - we do not walk about on iambic pentameters. We have hands and measure horses with them - indeed, we have cars that are powered by horses too, even if the force is also measured in Newtons.

That will shut them up for a while.

No comments: