[Dave Birch] Solving the real-world problem of identification and authentication is, as we know, difficult. Not simply because we need to find mechanisms for implementing these concepts that are both convenient and cost-effective but because their real-world use is messy. Digital identity has to be able to deliver more than workable home banking login for people like me. In the real world, demands are more complicated. Here’s a good example, put forward by Chris Skinner. He was trying to help is elderly father-in-law sort something out with his bank, so he phoned and told the bank just that. They refused to deal with him on the phone and insisted that his father-in-law write a letter to change the repayments or whatever it was he wanted. So Chris just called back and told them that he was his father-in-law. He was easily able to answer the “security” questions and so got things sorted out quickly. But how will this work in the world of identity cards and biometrics? Or consider a similar, more prosaic case. I’m sure many people use their partner’s ATM card from time to time. Not for any illegal withdrawals, but because they are lazy, or can’t find their own card, or they left it at work or whatever. I’d hate to run round the to ATM at the supermarket because we need some cash only to be told by the machine, “Sorry Mrs. Birch, face recognition failed” (which it would do, by the way).

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Banks, like a great many other organisations, will have to have some mechanism for managing identity and delegation in a structured and auditable way. So, if my Dad wants me to deal with the bank for him, we should be able to go into a branch together, put our splendid new government-issued identity cards into a machine and instruct the delegation so that from then on I can connect to the bank over the web and transact for my Dad. I’m sure that most U.K. banks have already drawn up their plans for these kinds of services, what with the ID card being only a couple of years away, but while they are dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s, I wonder if they might consider a small extension to the services they are planning whereby spouses or civil partners can interoperate is an properly delegated manner, so that my wife can use her ID card to access my account if I have granted her permission to do so. It’s just a bit of software, after all.

It gets even more complicated when you begin to think about both of us delegating some of our rights to the car…

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

1 comment

  1. Don’t be so certain that ID Cards are only a a couple of years away from us now. If Nu Labour doesn’t win the next general election, which is a distinct possibility, then it looks pretty certain that The National ID card scheme as it is will be scrapped in its entirety.

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