Letters: ID cards trigger biometric alert

Letters: In your FAQ What now? section (Bio-metric scans for passports from April, February 14) the question is posed: "Won't ID cards be forged like all the other plastic? Your answer says: "Anyone trying to register twice with the same biometric will trigger an alert." But no such information about the responsiveness of the system has been provided by the government.

In your FAQ What now? section (Bio-metric scans for passports from April, February 14) the question is posed: "Won't ID cards be forged like all the other plastic? Your answer says: "Anyone trying to register twice with the same biometric will trigger an alert." But no such information about the responsiveness of the system has been provided by the government.

The jury is still out on the technology. A project of this complexity and scale has never been tried anywhere in the world and the government has done no research to test the biometric technology. A "trigger alert" would require the matching of the biometrics to be 100% perfect but even with an accuracy rate of 99.9% on a database of 48m records this would still give an error rate of 48,000 records. We know from the Home Office enrolment trial that around 4% of people had problems enrolling their irises, the most reliable of the biometrics.

The UK computing research committee points out that without information on where the system will be deployed and the extent of its use, it is impossible to come to conclusions about the demands of biometric checking. Therefore assertions about a "trigger alert" preventing dual registration should be handled with care.
Lynne Jones MP
Lab, Birmingham Selly Oak

It is a real tragedy for this country and the world that there is now legislation in place allowing the implementation of ID cards. I am from Brazil where people have been forced to carry ID cards since the 1940s and where, as everyone might guess, it has done nothing to curb criminality. However, it was used by the military dictatorship of the 60s and 70s as an effective tool to impose a regime of fear on all the population of that country. If a person did not carry an ID card at all times, when stopped by the police he or she would most likely end up in jail for "further checks" - especially if one's skin colour was darker.
Victor Bock
London

You couldn't find a better example of New Labour hoodwinking if you tried. Facing defeat on the bill to introduce their expensive and ineffective ID cards, they made a "major concession" by saying that the cards would be "voluntary" without further legislation. But since all passport applicants will be forced to also get an ID card from 2008, Labour is really saying that unless you want to spend the rest of your life within the UK, you will be forced to get an ID card.
Cllr Stephen Psallidas
Lib Dem, Newcastle upon Tyne

Simon Jenkins (Another victory for Britain's insufferable paternalists, February 15) and Chris Huhne (Our freedom is at stake, February 15) both seek to put individual rights above collective ones. Together they unwittingly demonstrate some shortcomings of libertarianism.

Huhne trots out the thin-end-of-the-wedge argument. Its feebleness can be illustrated by reversing his rhetoric to suggest malevolently that he wants "slice by tiny slice" to erode the protection we all enjoy against being murdered. Civilised society demands restrictions on individual liberties because few of us can be trusted to act reasonably at all times Most Lib Dem MPs ignored the libertarians' case and voted to erode the rights of smokers; how curious it is that they refuse to do the same for those of potentially murderous terrorists and their supporters.
Brian Hughes
Cheltenham, Glos

No2ID remains confident that the House of Lords will continue to block the sinister ID card bill. After David Davis revealed that the ID database will be connected to our tax records, police records, driving records and medical records, peers and the public will be even more determined to stop the creation of the world's most intrusive surveillance state.
Dave Gould
Bristol No2ID

So "millions of British citizens will be required to hold an identity card and see their biometric details placed on a central database..." I and millions of others will prefer to destroy them than succumb to this road to e-serfdom.
Phil Davison
London

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