Pa­per pass­ports on the way out as phone apps aim to beat fraud­sters

Bri­tain ‘fall­ing be­hind’ as other coun­tries em­brace dig­i­tal ID doc­u­ments

The Observer - - NEWS - By Michael Sav­age Pol­icy Edi­tor

Pa­per pass­ports and driv­ing li­cences should be torn up and re­placed by a dig­i­tal doc­u­ment that can be stored on a smart­phone, a think­tank has said.

Hand­ing peo­ple a more se­cure, dig­i­tal proof of iden­tity would re­duce on­line crime and save money, ac­cord­ing to the So­cial Mar­ket Foun­da­tion. It points out that other coun­tries have al­ready de­vel­oped se­cure ID tech­nol­ogy and Bri­tain has “not fully kept up with tech­no­log­i­cal and so­cial change”.

It warns that the con­tin­ued re­liance on pa­per doc­u­ments and the lack of se­cure on­line ID has con­trib­uted to a boom in iden­tity fraud, which in­creased by 68% be­tween 2010 and 2016. If cur­rent trends con­tinue, there will have been 1.5 mil­lion fraud cases in the UK be­tween 2010 and 2020.

The think­tank sug­gests that a gov­ern­ment pro­gramme called Ver­ify, which has cre­ated a se­cure on­line iden­tity check, should be built upon to even­tu­ally al­low peo­ple to dis­pense with pa­per pass­ports and driv­ing li­cences al­to­gether.

“Around the world, for­ward-look­ing coun­tries are em­brac­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties of­fered by dig­i­tal iden­tity authentication and ver­i­fi­ca­tion,” the re­port said. “Es­to­nia’s e-ID en­ables dig­i­tal sig­na­tures, in­ter­net vot­ing and pub­lic ser­vice access, and the UAE now has a smart­phone pass­port app.

“We en­vi­sion a fu­ture in which in­di­vid­u­als could choose to no longer hold a pass­port, driv­ing li­cence and birth cer­tifi­cate as in­di­vid­ual ver­i­fiers. In­stead, they could opt for all these forms of doc­u­men­ta­tion to sit un­der one reg­is­ter of en­ti­tle­ment. This could bring about sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings for gov­ern­ment, not least from re­duced postage and print­ing costs as­so­ci­ated with dif­fer­ent types of phys­i­cal iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.” It said that the Driver and Ve­hi­cle Li­cens­ing Agency spent about £40m on print­ing and postage in 2016-17 – close to 17% of to­tal op­er­at­ing costs. The de­sign for the new UK pass­port is also out for ten­der as part of a £490m gov­ern­ment con­tract.

The think­tank also sug­gests that not hav­ing some form of pa­per ID has be­come an in­di­ca­tor of fi­nan­cial and so­cial ex­clu­sion. “Those in rel­a­tively de­prived ar­eas are much less likely to have access to a pass­port or driv­ing li­cence,” it said.

“Phys­i­cal doc­u­men­ta­tion will prob­a­bly be re­quired for some time, given vary­ing de­grees of dig­i­tal up­take across the globe, though the long-term picture un­doubt­edly looks pa­per­less.”

Long queues for pass­port checks at Heathrow are an all-too-fa­mil­iar sight.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.