25 April 2008
Campaign group NO2ID  condemned plans announced today to introduce unmanned border checkpoints using facial recognition technology as deliberate misdirection.
Though details are yet to be confirmed, comments by Home Office minister Liam Byrne  seem to indicate that the system will actually be based on reading the personal information stored on microchips in the new ‘ePassports’. And that this will feed into the eBorders and ‘Advanced Passenger Information’ (API) systems that already spread tens of millions of travellers’ personal details around the world.
NO2ID has already demonstrated the vulnerability of the personal information held on the chip embedded in the passport – first reading the supposedly secure chip using equipment bought over the internet for less than £100  and then extracting all the data from an unknown person’s passport, still sealed within the envelope in which it was sent from the Passport Office .
Phil Booth, NO2ID’s national coordinator, said:
These technologies are only being introduced to make it easier to collect and track personal information about travellers.
People shouldn’t be fooled by ministers’ fairytale claims about biometrics, but should rather be asking where their personal details are being sent and why. Transmitting uour passport data, home address, and even credit card details abroad shows contempt for YOUR security. And waving a camera in your face while doing it is just misdirection.”
Notes for editors
1) NO2ID is the UK-wide non-partisan campaign against ID cards and the database state. See http://www.no2id.net/dbstate.php for a list of ‘database state’ initiatives that NO2ID is actively opposing.
2) ‘Face scans for air passengers to begin in UK this summer’, Guardian, 25/4/08 -
3) http://www.guardian.co.uk/idcards/story/0,,1950226,00.html – working with security expert Adam Laurie, NO2ID were able to extract all the stored data from the new ‘biometric’ e-Passport using equipment bought for less than £100 over the internet. This data would not only allow criminals to ‘clone’ new chips with valid data into fake passports, but could also be used to facilitate fraud and identity theft.
4) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=440069&in_page_id=1770 – confounding Home Office claims that the data chip could only be accessed if the passport’s unique ‘MRZ number’ is known, NO2ID read all the data from the chip on a new passport *still sealed inside the envelope* in which it was sent by supposedly “secure delivery” to its new owner.