RUSI and all that

[Dave Birch] One (!) of the conferences I spoke at last week was the Royal United Service’s Institute’s conference on Science and Technology for Homeland Security and Resilience. I decided to put my original presentation about ID card technology to one side and go with my new psychic ID card slides. If you’re at all curious, the slides are here…

There were a couple of tough questions — mostly around “why bother with an ID card at all” — but on the whole the people there were very nice to me, and prepared to listen to what I suppose must seem like a fairly radical idea if you are from a conventional security background.

As the comments on the original blog post seem to indicate, I think I’ve stumbled on a useful way of describing an alternative form of identity card. I’ve been writing it up in more detail for a journal, so hopefully I can address some of those issues as I go along with the “psychic rewrite”, by which I mean that I’d already prepared a paper on how to use smart cards, mobile phones and so on to create new kind of identity card, but I’m currently rewriting it to use the Dr. Who framing as it does seem to speak to people far more effectively than any of my previous attempts.

It’s crazy, but it might just work

[Dave Birch] Let’s create a vision for a 21st-century identity card. Let’s create a vision that we can communicate effectively. Let’s create a vision that is founded on minimising the storage of personal data. Let’s create a vision that the public and the government can understand. Let’s create a vision that contains some genuine innovation, some excitement, some potential. But most of all, let’s create a vision that is founded in mass media, because that’s where the British public get their science and technology education from. I would suggest that, as in so many things, Dr. Who should be our guide.

You’ll be familiar, of course, with Dr. Who’s psychic paper. As any devotee of the BBC’s wonderful series knows, the psychic paper shows the “inspector” whatever it is that they need to see. If the border guard is looking for a British passport, the psychic paper looks like a British passport. If the customs officer on Alpha Centuri wants to see a Betelguesian quarantine certificate, the psychic paper looks like a Betelguesian quarantine certificate.


Now that is what I call a vision for an ID card. And what’s more, it will work.

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