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Government scraps identity cards

The government intends to scrap the controversial national identity card program. Instead, the Home Office is working with NATO and the US Department of Homeland Security to create a globally recognised standard for identity management using the latest chip designs from VeriChip Corporation.

The program has been given the internal codename "C-square" – which stands for the Citizen’s Chip – and the idea is that the chip will replace id cards and passports.

Everyone will be issued with their own, individualised, unique identity on a chip. The chip will hold secure, PKI identification codes that can only be read by government-issued wireless NFC devices and the codes represent data about the user – a digital birth certificate, social security number and criminal record.

The intent is that the chip will only be accessible by government personnel, such as security officers and police, although chip readers will also be issued to banks to be used for identification purposes during the account opening process, and for proof of identity for any transactions above £1,000.

From the banking perspective, the advantage of the Citizen’s Chip is that it will also provide an authentication and identification to the payment systems of the banks. For example, banks will be able to provide customers with any form of payments device – mobile, wearable or card-based – and have the payment authenticated by a wireless authentication chip standard used and approved by governments, law enforcers, financial institutions, and businesses globally.

The aim is to introduce the Citizens’ Chip standard from January 2010, with citizens to be given the choice of either having the chip implanted in the arm or neck. Home Office representatives were persuaded to move towards placing the chip inside the arm or neck of the citizen after seeing VeriChip’s programs successfully operating with hospitals and medical practices. As a result, the program will be promoted through local health services, as the government believes this will encourage early adoption, with initial advertising as a healthcare programme during late-2009, and with chips available from any local doctor’s practice from 1st January 2010.

Promotion will be based upon the benefits of the chip monitoring heart, blood pressure and brain activity. Any early warning of health deterioration will be alerted to your doctor, who will be able to treat you effectively before any major health issues arise. The chip will also provide convenience in usage at airports and other cross-border checkpoints by providing those with the chip inside with a fast lane processing service.

Although the Home Office has admitted that the program may be controversial, they are keen to progress the idea of a chip implant because identity card trials have proven to be subject to substantial fraud, even with biometrics on the card. By implanting the chip, government and security departments worldwide have determined that this will be the most secure method of managing identification because the chip only works whilst inside the original host’s body. The way it works is that when the chip is implanted within the body for the first time, it becomes NFC-identity enabled. However, should the chip be removed from the body, it is immediately disabled and cannot be reactivated. In effect, it becomes defunct.

The government will implement the Citizen’s Chip program across all major control points, such as airports, railway and police stations, from 1st January 2010. From 1st January 2012, implants will be mandatory. Citizens without the chip implant after that date will be subject to potential internment and questioning for an initial period of up to 28 days or will be repatriated to their home of origin.

Now, you may have guessed by now that I made all of this up … but I bet for a moment back there, you believed every word didn’t you?

Big Brother’s watching you 😉

About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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