National ID Cards and Compartmentalizing Identity

There has been a lot of talk over the past week or so about compartmentalizing Identity and how this won't work with the National ID cards. The comments have mostly originated from the article by Michael Osborne of IBM. He makes some very interesting points explaining some of the fundamental floors in the governments plans for National ID cards.

However, one of the very valid points he makes is around the compartmentalization of Identity to enable the identity data to be used in different contexts. Kim Cameron, Paul Squires and Emergent Chaos all make comments about this. I think the points that are made are all valid but have been blogged to death so I won't add to the comments.

However, I was interested in one comment that Michael made in particular relating to a possible solution to the centralised database problem. His suggestion was to store the data locally on the ID card and have all the processing of the data happen on the card. Whilst I think that this is potentially a good solution since it will solve a lot of the problems associated with a central database I aren't sure that I understand how this would elleviate the problem of context and compartmentalized data.

To take Paul Squire's example; suppose I am in a bar and need to prove my age to the bartender but no other information. How do I ensure that my identity context on the card is correct so that the bartender is prevented from seeing my full profile? Alternatively, how do I allow my doctor to see certain information while preventing him from seeing my criminal record (not that I have one)? I would love to hear comments from anyone who might suggest ways in which this could be achieved.

The more I think about and read about the National ID card scheme it infuriates me that the government is pressing ahead with this scheme even though it is destined to fail for a number of reasons (as highlighted by lots of other bloggers), not least to mention:

  • Running over budget (don't all government projects)
  • All the issues surrounding privacy
  • Failure to actual tackle terrorism despite being the main justification for their introduction
  • etc
  • etc

Hopefully, one day the government might see sense and realise what a stupid idea ID cards really are. Unfortunately, that will probably be after spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money to deploy them!!


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