ID Cards – Food for Thought

November 19, 2009

In May 2005 Atos Origin carried out a Biometrics Enrollment trial on behalf of the UK Passport Service. There were 10,000 participants.

The goal  was to test the processes and record customer experience and attitude during the recording and verification of facial, iris and fingerprint biometrics.

The following statistics were recorded in that trial:

  • “The average times for Quota participants were 39 seconds for facial verification, 58 seconds for iris verification and 1min 13 seconds for fingerprint verification.”

About a minute to scan for verification. It might not seem much but if these are viewed against, say,  a Boeing 747 with 400 passengers arriving at a UK airport. Verification against Biometic ID card data would take approximately 7 Hours to pass though security Verification !

And that does not even reference the Verification Failure rates:-

  • Iris – 96% Success Rate
  • Fingerprints – 81% Success Rate
  • Facial Verification – 69% Success Rate (Falling to 48% for disabled participants)

Thats not a Typo, the failure rate for facial recognition was 31-52% !

At the trial in Manchester airport (Yes, if your not aware, the UK government is trialing Facial recognition in the UK) the failure rate was so high they had to recalibrate the scanner  to be less sensitive to reduce the delays caused by constant rescanning.

To pass you now need only a 30% likeness to the Biometric data!

At 30% the machines can not tell the difference between Osama bin Laden and Winona Ryder. Gordon Brown is indistinguishable from Mel Gibson.


Now that really is food for thought….


Link to report –





First Post !

November 19, 2009

I’m working as an Information Security Manager and studying for an MSc in Information Security by distance learning through the Royal Holloway University. This Blog is an outpouring of my thoughts on issues or subjects encountered through both work and study. Or anything else that I think is Blogworthy.