John Lettice writes in The Register:
The NAO report tells us something The Register’s been pointing out for some time: “An ePassport remains a valid travel document even if the electronic chip fails.” This is an ICAO requirement, and it means a passport with a bust chip is still a passport that you can use to cross borders, and that they have no right to stop you because your passport is ‘broken’ – it isn’t. So what do they do? According to the NAO: “If failure is detected at border control, the holder will be issued with a letter advising them to contact the issuing authority. The Identity and Passport Service will examine any faulty ePassports returned to it and, where it concludes the chip unit contains a manufacturing fault, the ePassport will be replaced free of charge.”
Which is where we came in. Suckers who’ve acted on the letter by allowing IPS to take their passport hostage will be forced to cough up for a new one, except in the unlikely event that Philips screwed up. So if you’re handed that letter, don’t act on it. And if thousands, or tens of thousands of people are handed that letter, IPS will have a problem that it’s not going to be able to park with Philips.
Kevin Maguire writes in The Mirror:
We must not let the terrorists change our way of life.
Terrorism will not be defeated until our determination is as complete as theirs, our defence against terrorism as absolute as their fanaticism, our passion for our way of life as great as their passion for tyranny.
Not my words but those of Tony Blair, although I endorse every sentiment the Prime Minister expressed in those two sentences around this time last year.
So can anyone explain why he is hell-bent on changing our way of life for ever?
Locking suspects up for 10 weeks without charge and forcing every adult to carry an internal passport is as big a change you can get.
And neither measure would work. Indeed the danger is they would play into the hands of the terrorists the PM declared he is so anxious to defeat.
I guess it would take a bomber two minutes to buy a fake Identity Card down the market if he or she could be bothered to acquire one at all.
Spain has ID cards and that didn’t stop the bloody Madrid train bombings which killed and maimed hundreds of innocent travellers. Yet ordinary people will be constantly hassled, forced to produce expensive if useless pieces of plastic to see a doctor or assure a jobsworth we are who we are.
Alan Travis writes in The Guardian:
New flaws in the government’s national identity card scheme have emerged with the disclosure today that the microchips in 3m passports, which are supposed to be valid for 10 years, only carry a 24-month warranty.
Whitehall spending watchdogs also warn today that much of the technology surrounding the new ePassports is still unproven and could lead to passenger delays at airports, raising doubts about their immediate security benefits.
A National Audit Office report says the £440m Home Office ePassports project has so far been delivered on time and on budget but flaws in its technology mean that it may still prove not to be value for money. The cost of renewing a passport has been increased from £51 to £66 to pay for the introduction of ePassports which include a digital photograph and biographical details held on a microchip which is read by an electronic scanner at immigration control.
If the government’s proposed ID card is usable as a passport within Europe, as the government hopes, it will of course have to use much of this “unproven” technology.
The NAO report is downloadable here.