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Debate at the intersection of business, technology and culture in the world of digital identity, both commercial and government, a blog born from the Digital Identity Forum in London and sponsored by Consult Hyperion



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11 posts from June 2007

How did I manage to work Dr. Who into ID cards?

By davebirch posted Jun 29 2007 at 10:14 AM
[Dave Birch] I can't helping reading stupid non-stories in the newspaper when they touch on anything related to identity. Hence I found myself reading the "60 Second Interview" in the free London metro. The interview with Freema Agyeman, the actress who plays Doctor Who's current assistant and is therefore a major heroine in our household, covers her early career working at Blockbuster. As Blockbuster are often rather lazily held up as a central part of the pro-ID card business case ("imagine how much easier it will be to rent a video using an identity card), I couldn't help but note her comment that
The not-so-good times were when people lost their temper. At one point, the membership applications got really strict because stuff was going missing. People had to bring in two proofs of address dated in the previous four months. They brought in passports and driving licences and shouted at us that if they could open a bank account with them, why couldn't they get a Blockbuster card.
Has Freema uncovered the killer application? I didn't see her at the Public Private Forum on Identity (PPFI) meeting at the Treasury, so I think someone should alert the authorities at the earliest opportunity.

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Building blocks for the identity utility

By davebirch posted Jun 22 2007 at 3:36 PM
[Dave Birch] In his presentation to EEMA, my colleague Neil McEvoy calls for the creation of an identity utility, to be used by government, business and individuals alike. Neil mentions that the NFC-equipped mobile phone could be the critical device to make this a reality, because the mobile phone can act as both the identity provider and the identity consumer. So will there be enough mobile phones, and will enough of them have NFC, to make this a realistic vision? Well, in many countries (eg, the U.K), mobile penetration is already over 100%. Nokia alone sold 348 million handsets last year. There are nearly half a billion mobile phone users in China. 49 million handsets were shipped in Japan last year. ABI Research forecasts that by 2012, some 292 mln handsets (more than 20% of the global mobile handset market) will ship with built-in near-field-communications capabilities.

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By davebirch posted Jun 20 2007 at 2:13 PM
[Dave Birch] Presumably one of the benefits of moving to a smart identity card -- alongside smart passports and driving licences -- is that many of the associated processes can be automated. Somewhere like Malaysia, which has had a smart identity card for years, shows how this can be done. There, passport applications can be made online or at kiosks. The Deputy Home Affairs Minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho says that e-kiosks and e-applications were part of the Immigration Department’s efforts to go paperless and increase efficiency. Only one e-kiosk had been installed at the time of writing, but it can process a passport for an identity card holder in as little as 10 minutes. Applicants deposit the RM300 fee in the machine, which can also photograph passport holders, enter their details and then pick up their passport the next day. This means, of course, that the integrity of the passport applications now depends on the integrity of the identity card and the National Registration Department has detected 364 cases where the MyKad has been tampered with but has found no cloning of the identity card. Mr. Ho said the tampering was confined to changing of the photograph on the card and most of these cases involved illegal immigrants. He said that in these cases the MyKad chip was damaged because it contained the personal particulars of the card holder which could not be altered.

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Opening authentication

By davebirch posted Jun 18 2007 at 5:18 PM
[Dave Birch] A discussion that I was in earlier today reminded about a point made earlier in the year. I was discussing the idea of using software in mobile phones instead of bank-provided "tokens". It's superficially very attractive, but it needs the operators to get on board. And then service providers, such as banks, may not want to use it because they don't want someone else in between them and their customers. While the mobile phone with a SIM is an excellent repository for phishing-resistant credentials, the fact the mobile operators control access to the SIM (and often severely restrict that access) turns many people off. On the other hand, if the mobile phone were to be used as part of a standard open authentication scheme -- so if the operator doesn't play ball, banks (or whoever) had plenty of choice of alternative tokens -- then that's not so much of a barrier. With the continued progress of OATH (who we've spoken to before) in making interoperable authentication practical, this scenario isn't particular far-fetched if there's a convenient way of implementing OATH in the phone.

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Second life, third age

By davebirch posted Jun 14 2007 at 9:49 AM
[Dave Birch] An evening out at the Financial Services Club in London, organised by the always interesting Chris Skinner. This time, the speaker was Tim Collins, SVP Experience Marketing, Wells Fargo (*). He was talking about participating in emerging online environments. He began by explaining what experiential marketing was: broadly speaking, it was something to do with interactive and authentic communications between the brand and the consumer. He covered social networking at a high level, ranging from MySpace and YouTube to CraigsList and LinkedIn but then moved on to explain what Wells Fargo had done, focusing on blogs and virtual worlds. I'm currently fascinated by the emergence of new kinds of communities so Wells' experience with the different kinds of blogs were rather valuable and Tim had some very clear insights, I felt, into the use of what we might broadly call social networking to support business goals, but I can't tell you what they were because we were told at the beginning of the seminar that we have to get permission from Wells Fargo to quote Tim and I can't be bothered to. But I will say that last year Tim was quoted in the Harvard Business Review saying that “An educated consumer is our best customer”.

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The key biometric?

By davebirch posted Jun 13 2007 at 1:16 PM
[Dave Birch] When Nick Ogden, the CEO of Voice Pay, said that the use of voice biometric technology will improve security and consumer confidence making it far safer for shoppers to buy goods and services he's very probably right. The synergy between the the next generation of security (biometrics) and the next generation of cards (phones) is just too overwhelming and, as I've consistently maintained, requires relatively small advances in the technology to deliver significant benefits. The technology applies across both local and remote channels: Voice Pay helps consumers to buy using their mobile phone from a TV or print advertisement instantly or pay for goods in a shop. To use it, buyers simply call the national Voice Pay number and authorize payments over the phone using their voiceprint as a signature. The Voice Pay schemes also offers buyer and retailer additional safeguards such as integrated anti-phishing technology, which "ensures total confidence in the stores that process payments with Voice Pay". Now, the last time a vendor showed one of our clients a system like this, I was genuinely surprised by how good it was: I was initially skeptical whether it would work at all over a mobile phone, but it worked very well. I shouldn't really think of it as a future payment technology at all: ABN AMRO (or ABN Barclays or RBS AMRO or whatever it is by the time you read this blog) is already rolling the technology out to 4 million customers in the Netherlands this year.

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Healthy scepticism

By davebirch posted Jun 7 2007 at 10:27 AM
[Dave Birch] There's a definite problem with stronger identity management in health. The German health card, a sophisticated and smart new card, is going to be postponed considerably. A health specialist called Daniel Bahr says that the card will not be rolled out before 2010 and compares the fiasco with tolls for trucks on the autobahn, which makes me curious to know what's going on with German road-tolling. The German Association of the Information Sector, Telecommunications, and New Media (Bitkom) is reporting that doctors' practices and hospitals invested 3.7 billion euros in information technology and telecommunications (ITC) last year, 5 percent more than in 2005. In 2007, the Association expects these expenditures to increase by 4 percent to 3.8 billion euros. Bitkom writes that "the launch of the electronic health card will save some 500 million euros annually according to conservative estimates." Not for a while, apparently.

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Register this

By davebirch posted Jun 5 2007 at 2:33 PM
[Dave Birch] I don't think a biometric register, by itself, is a bad thing. In fact, it's on balance probably a good thing. But it has to work to a high standard: a biometric that is 99.99% accurate will return hundreds of false matches against a population register. That's why I think that if there is going to be a proper National Identity Register in the U.K., it should comprise multiple high-quality biometrics (and no other personal information, but that's a separate point). The U.S. is already moving in this direction. The FBI's planned biometric register upgrade will store not only fingerprints but also iris scans, and in the future may include enhancements to their ability to use DNA as a forensic tool, according to a recent briefing on plans for its Next Generation Identification (NGI) system.

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The business of privacy

By davebirch posted Jun 4 2007 at 11:01 AM
[Dave Birch] I was at a stimulating meeting of the Enterprise Privacy Group, discussing the business case for privacy. Setting aside what "privacy" means (or, for that matter, what "business case" means if you're the Home Office or the National Health Service) it was noticeable that we struggled to identity a clear business case. Basically, as far as I could see, because consumers don't really care about privacy, it's hard to sell it to them. But it may be that we were taking an unsophisticated view, as by coincidence I just came across a paper on the privacy valuation that contains some useful and stimulating thoughts for me to mull over, mostly stemming from the "privacy paradox", whereby consumers claim to value privacy highly do not seem to incorporate privacy concerns into their transactions. If I've understood it correctly, this paper helps to explain why this is.

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Expected consequences

By davebirch posted Jun 2 2007 at 8:52 AM

BBC NEWS | UK | Call for car number plate revamp

More than 40,000 sets of number plates were stolen in 2006, a rise of almost 25%, according to police estimates.

Police blame rules registering plate buyers and suppliers and make fake plates more difficult to get hold of.

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