The United Kingdom’s foray into biometric ID cards was initially positioned as a counter terrorism maneuver, but there may be more to the cards than meets the eye. The UK government told the BBC it’s discussing adding chip and PIN technology to the new cards to combat identity fraud. James Hall, the government’s identity and passport service chief, told the television network that adding payments technology to the ID cards would not be difficult, and would allow car users to “assert their identities” online. Hall also said the government is in talks with financial services firms, and if a “compelling” reason can be found, chip and PINs will be taken “extremely seriously.” The British government in November started distributing biometric ID cards—which contain fingerprints, name, data of birth, nationality and the person’s “right to be in the UK”—to people from outside the European Economic Area. Distribution will be expanded on a voluntary basis to “young” people in 2010 and to the entire UK population in starting in 2012.
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