[Dave Birch] Dealing with the government online is precisely the kind of activity that is subverted by bad identity management. Case in point:


Ambitious plans to switch the majority of provisional licences from postal to online could not be taken up by one of the largest group of customers – teenagers – because they couldn’t prove their identity. Only 40,000 out of the 1 million people seeking a provisional licence were able to complete an online application. The remaining 960,000 had to stick to postal applications. One of the main reasons, according to the NAO, was that online applicants had to have either a new digital passport or a credit record to prove their identity.

[From DVLA plan fails ID test | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics]

The government has portal for accessing public services — DirectGov — but it’s of limited usefulness, precisely because of this issue. And I’d lay a pound to a penny that the new ID card won’t make the slightest difference, since I’ve not heard a single minister or official say anything about using it in this way. Speaking of which, young people won’t have to worry about this problem for much longer because they’ll soon be able to get a splendid new identity card that will solve that problem for them. As the Home Secretary said recently


We will start to make identity cards available to young people on a purely voluntary basis in 2010. I believe there are clear attractions in the scheme. It will make it easier to enrol on a course, apply for a student loan, open a bank account, or prove your age – especially as we get tougher on sales of alcohol to those under-age.

[From BBC NEWS | Politics | In full: Smith ID card speech]

Anyone familiar with the U.K. will recognise the wisdom of making it more difficult for children to buy alcohol.

With public confidence in the new identity card so high, it’s surprising that some private sector organisations are yet to get behind the scheme and are even setting up alternatives:


The Age Watch system is due to be installed later this month at a store in the south-east of England, understood to be a Budgens. If successful, it could be rolled out across the UK. The technology has been developed to be used in convenience stores at the point of sale to capture images of customers that will be scanned against a database of known offenders.

[From Budgens trials facial recognition to fight underage sales – Talking Retail]

This seems a remarkable initiative to me. I don’t imagine there’s the slightest chance of it working (the most recent NIST face recognition vendor tests reported a False Accept Rate of 20% for matching uncontrolled images and controlled captures), yet the retailer rates it a more worthwhile investment than waiting till 2010 and then asking teenagers to present an ID card.

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

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