Read this now

A classic piece at The Register on biometrics and stupidity: read David Moss and you’ll be more competent than anyone in government on this issue. It’s the false positives, of course; but the truly shocking thing is that despite everything, the ID scheme still depends on the n=10,000 trial from 2004 that they deny is a trial.

Go, read.


  1. One of his claims seems very dubious to me:

    “Suppose that there were 60 million UK ID cardholders. To prove that each person is represented by a unique electronic identity on the population register, each biometric would have to be compared with all the rest. That would involve making 1.8 x 10^15 comparisons”

    This appears to claim that there is no better way to find all duplicates within a database of biometrics than to carry out all pairwise comparisons. What’s the evidence for this?

  2. Cian O'Connor

    You’re assuming that the biometric is an exact match. I don’t know very much about biometric identities, but its possible that the fuzziness makes it hard to optimise.

  3. If I was assuming that the match had to be exact, I’d be more than just “dubious” about the claim!

    In the field of DNA sequencing there are all sorts of clever techniques for searching for fuzzy matches in large databases of sequences, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you could do something similar techniques to other types of biometric.




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