A biometric security firm is pitching a national identity scheme designed to allay fears caused by the government holding and trying to manage a national identity base.
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The biometric smartcard system proposed by UK Biometrics is being promoted as the government tries to address the outcry caused by HMRC losing the child benefit records of 25m people.
The plan would be to store everybody's biometric data on any smart card chip, currently embedded in credit cards. For those people who do not carry credit cards, a dedicated smart card would cost about £5 - much cheaper than the estimated cost of the current national identity card scheme, said the firm
When required by police or authorities to positively identify themselves, the card holder would slot their smart card into a hand-held biometric scanner, place their fingertip onto the reader and have their identity confirmed.
UK Biometrics managing director Matthew James said, "Resistance to the national ID card scheme appears to have hardened in response to the recent loss of HMRC data. With the smart card plan everybody is responsible for their own data and there is no need for a national database.
"The hand held scanner simply confirms to the authorities that the person holding the card is who they claim to be and no additional data need be stored. In the event that someone loses their smart card, their fingerprint cannot be reproduced from the encrypted data held for comparison on the chip. And nobody can use the card for fraudulent purposes," he said.
The smart card plan could also be used to eliminate ATM fraud since users would be required to scan their fingerprint to access their account rather than use vulnerable chip and Pin.
And a home scanner linked to a PC or laptop by a USB port could prevent internet transaction fraud since the user would be required to scan their fingerprint to confirm their identity to make a purchase.