Home Office
China (re Golden Shield)
FBI (re NGI)

FBI fire torpedos Home Office credibility down the tubes?
30 October 2009


Thanks to the Home Office, the border is defended with electronic passports and visas. And internally, one or two of us will soon have Home Office ID cards. All of them, the passports, the visas and the ID cards, bristling with biometrics. Face recognition. Flat print fingerprints. Truly, British security is splendidly clothed in the armour of biometrics.

Or is it? Is British security in this case actually wearing anything at all?

The fairy tale is wrong. If a little boy says that the emperor has no clothes, no-one hears. What it takes in the real world is for the FBI to say it. And now they have.

Normally, your best friend wouldn't tell you. But this time, speaking to the hundreds of delegates at London's Biometrics 2009 conference, he has. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, the FBI put the biometric boot in.

The FBI have been evaluating face recognition technology since 1963. They didn't invest then. And they're still not investing now. Face recognition technology just doesn't work, according to them. Not reliably enough. The FBI imply that the Home Office are fooling themselves, and us.

When politicians are taken on a tour of the biometrics that are supposed to guard the country, are they reviewing an impregnable fortress? Or are the civil servants really showing them over a Potemkin village?

Will they take some well-meant scientific advice this time? Let's ask the Home Office:

Some references:

Passengers test new face scanners: The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) voiced concerns that the technology was "untried and untested".

Machines to scan faces of travellers at UK airports: ministers want the machines to replace most front line airport immigration officer over the next five years.

Security fear over airport face scanners: Home Secretary Jacqui Smith pledged the fully automated facial recognition machines would be part of a "ring of security" at Britain's borders ... "We [unnamed "insiders"] believe they had to recalibrate it essentially make it easier to get through the system."

Airport face scanners 'cannot tell the difference between Osama bin Laden and Winona Ryder'

About Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL):
BCSL has operated as an IT consultancy since 1984. The past 6 years have been spent campaigning against the Home Office's plans to introduce ID cards into the UK. And against the useless plans for eBorders. It must now be admitted that the government are much better at convincing people that these plans are a bad idea than anyone else is, including BCSL.

Press contacts: David Moss,