An accurate (non-biometric) picture

Posted on 10th July 2009
At last, there’s an article which thoroughly exposes some of the nonsense which has been talked about ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) ‘requirements’ and biometric passports. It’s by John Lettice, writing in The Register, and was rightly tagged as “UK ID article of the week” by the folks at Privacy International.
While John’s primary purpose was to compare the stated policies of the 3 main UK political parties on ID cards and the National Identity Register, in doing so he offers a lucid and compelling analysis of the difference between what ICAO requirements for travel documents are intended to achieve, what they actually mean for the UK, and what we have been being told about them.
The reason this is worth drawing attention to (and the reason it exercises me so much) is that for several years now, UK policy statements have been made which go roughly like this:

“We understand (but don’t necessarily care) that proposals for the capture and storage of citizen biometrics excite distrust and concern, but our hands are tied… we’re just doing what ICAO requires”.

Rather than try to re-hash John’s excellent analysis, I will simply recommend that you read the article.