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Long lashes thwart ID scan trial

Long eyelashes and watery eyes could thwart iris scanning technology used for the government’s ID card trial. An MP who volunteered to take part in the trial at the UK Passport Service headquarters in London complained the scanning was uncomfortable.

Home Affairs Select Committee member Bob Russell, who suffers from an eye complaint, said his eyes watered and staff were unable to scan his iris. Project director Roland Sables told MPs:

The pundits tell us that we should expect 7% across the board to fail with iris recognition, mainly due to positioning in front of the camera. Others are due to eye malformations, watery eyes and long eyelashes in a small percentage.

Hard contact lenses could also prove problematic. Mr Russell expressed concern about the scanning after his experience.

I think this is going to cause serious problems for people who suffer with bright lights and people with epilepsy. I think it will be necessary at every machine to have at least one member of staff who is a qualified first aider to a high level. I can see people keeling over with epileptic fits.

People with faint fingerprints would also be unable to register on the system, as would manual labourers, particularly those who work with cement or shuffle paper regularly, Mr Sables told the MPs.

The Plan is that by 2013, 80% of the population are expected to have a biometric passport or driving licence, at which point the government will decide whether to make the ID cards compulsory. The remaining 20% are presumably construction workers with long eyelashes, wearing hard contact lenses and suffering from epileptic fits…

1 comment to Long lashes thwart ID scan trial

  • Harry Powell

    It promises to be farcical alright. Yet the trouble with the ID card program is that once implemented there is no clearly defined criterion by which it could be judged a failure. When the first miscarriages of justice due to mistaken identity occur we will be told that more biometric data must be added to the card. When the next terrorist outrage takes place there will be calls for ever more ID checks on the public and for greater access to the ID database among the public services.

    It isn’t fanciful to consider that in my lifetime the computing power will become available to sequence, store and retrieve someone’s DNA within seconds. When this is possible the surveillance ratchet will be wound to its greatest extent.