This week Peter Doyle, of Baltimore Technologies, looks at the logistical issues accompanying the potential roll out of a national ID card.
With the debate surrounding identification cards firmly back on the news agenda, what exactly are the logistical issues associated with their potential compulsory implementation?
The current debate seems to centre on civil liberty groups protesting that the cards are a breach of human rights. But how much of the discussion has addressed the processes and make-up of the cards?
We are not dismissing the liberty argument, but simply urging citizens and companies to educate themselves on how ID cards would and could work.
If ID cards were combined with digital signatures and biometric data, such as fingerprints, voiceprints and iris scans, then an extremely secure and universal method of identification could be created.
Baltimore has worked with the Italian government to issue and manage digital certificates as part of the government's plans to launch electronic identity cards to all Italian citizens over a five-year period.
The system enables Italian public authorities and private service providers to communicate electronically with the general public and deliver new e-government services.
The office of the e-envoy has recently announced plans to examine the use of digital signatures and the future of smart cards in the UK. As part of its mission to take the UK fully into the digital economy, the department intends to use digital signatures to put the government on the Internet by 2005.
This will enable a citizen-focused government to make its services more accessible, improve social inclusion, and enable it to make greater use of the information available.
ID cards would also bring many benefits to citizens as a whole. Rather than becoming a burden on the more law-abiding members of the public, it could lead to all kinds of conveniences.
For example, enrolling a child at a doctor's surgery could be done in a matter of seconds and the extent of benefit fraud could be greatly reduced, saving tax payers' money. No longer would someone have to prove their address with electricity bills when renting a video.
But it is not just the public sector that could benefit. Used in harmony with existing policy-based privilege management software, we could streamline systems and processes that have been with us for decades into far more efficient procedures.
Bureaucratic red tape and long-winded security measures could be eradicated to create an extremely efficient, secure environment within which business can be conducted.
Furthermore, a reliable and universal security system would enable more private electronic communication reducing the risks of fraud or the interception of personal email.
The concerns over possible threats to an individual's privacy need to be addressed, but it is equally important that people are educated on the uses and benefits of new technology.
The time has come to focus on the best ways to use the technology available to us to make the improvements that we all desire in the security and trust of our daily communications and transactions.
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