In late 2008, the government began to issue its first national electronic identity cards. These were in fact the first ID cards of any kind issued in the UK since World War II.
Each ID card contains an image and printed data, as well as biometric data such as the person’s fingerprints. All information is loaded onto a secure chip on the card.
Just like electronic passports, these ID cards use contactless RFID technology to provide the data transmission capability that allows the biometric data to be checked quickly by a contactless reader.
Any ID card scheme was going to raise concerns and objections and be perceived by many as a threat to their personal privacy, none of which did anything to help the government secure acceptance of the scheme.
Some of the concerns surrounding the UK ID card scheme are fully justified, particularly given the volume of government data that has gone missing lately, but some are misperceived.
Many people fail to distinguish the differences between RFID and biometric technology.
Contactless RFID is simply the method for speeding and securing the communication between the ID card and the checkpoint, whereas biometrics is the technology specifically designed to automate the recognition and identification of an individual.
Biometrics technology is already used to secure the information held by banks and hospital records.