By Geraint Bevan – NO2ID | After all the rhetoric about securing our borders, the Home Office has now announced its intent significantly to weaken passport control in the UK. Starting this summer, border guards will gradually be replaced at UK airports by machines performing automatic facial recognition, comparing digital photographs to the data stored on passport chips.
Four years ago, the Home Office ran biometric enrolment trials in Glasgow, Newcastle and Leicester. The trials revealed plainly the fallibility of state-of-the-art biometric authentication. The worst performing biometric technology was facial recognition, which failed 31% of the time for able-bodied participants and a farcical 52% of the time for disabled participants. Problems were also encountered with the elderly, and the system did not cope well with changes to appearances.
Meanwhile, cryptographic researchers working with NO2ID have demonstrated the ability to clone UK passport chips remotely, without even removing passports from the sealed packaging in which they are delivered to recipients. Now all that will stand between imposters with cloned passports and entry to Britain will be a flawed authentication system that performs no better than tossing a coin.
The government is clearly keen to save money. There are much better savings to be made than firing the border guards at airports.