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ID card plan no solution to identity theft

11 November 2003  |  5249 views  |  0 London7

UK Government proposals for a national identity card may backfire, creating more opportunities for identity theft and system errors, a leading fraud expert has warned.

The criticisms come as UK home secretary David Blunkett outlines proposals for all citizens to hold some form of identity card by 2013.

Within ten years it is expected that most people will hold smart documents, such as passports and driving licenses including biometric identification data such as fingerprints and iris recognitition. At this point a decision will be taken on creating a UK-wide database and introducing compulsory ID cards.

The scheme has been the subject of fierce criticism from civil rights groups and forced deep divisions among government ministers. The home secretary claims it is vital to tackle benefit abuse, illegal immigration and terrorism.

But Peter Dorrington head of fraud solutions at SAS asks whether a single ID scheme can ever be an effective deterrent against identity fraud.

Identity theft is growing at a rate of 30% year-on-year according to UK government estimates. Rather than tackling abuse, Dorrington argues that a single ID card will prove a magnet for criminals looking to impersonate innocent third parties.

"If there is a big enough prize, then organised crime will find a way," he says. "If we have an identity card, and know that banks and governments are going to take them as a trusted form of identification, then the potential for criminals to use them to commit fraud is massive."

The use of biometric data may raise the bar for fraudsters, agrees Dorrington, but such systems can never be error-free, inevitably leaving potential loopholes that can be exploited by determined criminals.

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