Identity and Privacy

One of my good friends (and ex-boss) Mel Holloway has recently started blogging.

In his second post he talks about the Oracle Architects club that we both attended a couple of weeks ago. He seemed to agree with my feeling (I have already commented on the event here) that the event was quite academic and a bit “blue sky” in its thinking. This opinion was also shared by Paul Squires.

However, I do have to take issue with something Mel said in response to Drew Wagars thoughts on the event. When talking about identity and privacy an example of school meals is used. In his post Mel states:

Utilising the EMV as Drew says would enhance that privacy, again in this example the users identity is totally irrelevant, the card reader does not care who they are, its only concern is the card holder’s entitlement (role)

Whilst I can see what Mel is trying to say, I would disagree that the card is only concerned with the entitlement of the user. If the user is not entitled to free school meals then it is necessary to know the identity of the child in order to debit their card and charge the lunch to that person. What Mel seems to be talking about is more like an ATM type card where the ATM doesn’t care about the identity of the holder of the card.  The ATM isn’t concerned with the identity of the ‘user’ holding the card, just that the person holding the card and holding the correct PIN is authorised to perform transactions against the account. If I understand Mel correctly he is saying exactly the same thing. This is almost saying, only give the cards to children who are entitled to free meals since we only need to know if they are entitled or not. This goes against the principle of what Drew was trying to say in that using the cards enhances privacy by treating all children the same on the outside.

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