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Protection from identity theft

Identity theft is the deliberate assumption of another person's identity, usually to gain access to their credit or in rare cases to frame them for some crime. With the spread of the Internet the instances of identity theft has increased alarmingly to the extent that it now costs the economy at least 1.3 billion every year. Individuals pay for this in general through higher charges for financial services.

The government believes that a cards scheme will help by providing a secure means to verify identity either in person or where the applicant is not present, by organisations checking with the National Identity Register.

Identity theft is a growing problem that needs to be tackled but I believe that unless individuals begin to take steps to protect their privacy that the introduction of an ID card will make this problem worse.

The problem of identity theft is growing because the general public doesn't understand security and are careless with their personal data. Internet banking is a particular case where thieves will attempt to learn your password so that they can clear out your account. Unfortunately many people will use the same password online for everything and in some cases will tell complete strangers in the street what their password is when asked. I don't see how the proposed ID card scheme will tackle this particular form of identity theft.

Another form of identity theft is more serious and that is when someone assumes the identity of another in order to conceal their own. Typically the identity assumed is that of a person that shares a similar birth date but died as a child. There are other procedures in place to prevent this such as the cross referencing of the register of deaths with that of identity applications. The national identity cards scheme cannot prevent the theft of a dead child's identity, as they will not be in the National Identity Register.

Although it will made far more difficult to steal someone's identity following the introduction of a national identity card system it will still be technically possible as no system can be 100% secure.

A problem arises if the proposed card is used to replace a number of different documents such as your passport and driving licence and if it is adopted by other agencies to replace their own identity cards as well. Instead of having numerous identity documents you will have only one and it will be far more catastrophic if it is stolen and your identity is stolen with it. Including biometric data on the card is supposed to prevent this but I intend to show later that biometrics is not the perfect security solution it is thought to be.


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