Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The most ridiculous government comment ever?

On the BBC news website story about yet another government security breach when 3,000 blank passports and visa forms were stolen, I have just read what must be the most moronic comment ever uttered by a government spokesperson which is saying something:

"The passport service said the stolen documents could not be used by thieves because of their hi-tech embedded chip security features."

In case it isn't obvious, all the chip does is encode the information on the passport into written form. If this information is checked against a list of stolen passports it will be shown to be one of the stolen passports - but as the Register points out that is exactly the same situation regardless of whether the information is read from the passport itself or from the chip on the passport - the chip makes no difference in this case.

Of course, in the myriad of scenarios where a passport is presented as proof of identity without the chip being read, and when it isn't checked against any records of issued passports, these stolen passports will be invaluable to all manner of criminals, which is why the BBC article estimates the stolen passports to be worth £2.5m to criminals rather than the Government's ridiculous suggestion above that they are worthless.

I can barely contain my anger at the thought that the same government agency is planning to spend literally billions of pounds of our money on an ID card and national identity database, when it has proved again today that it is both incapable of ensuring security and is utterly, utterly clueless when it comes to understanding the benefits and risks of information technology solutions.

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