PM on Radio 4 today incldued interviews with people about the launch of ID cards for “volunteers” in Manchester. A frelance journalist was first in the queue to get one and was interviewed about the process. She reported having to create five “secret” questions and answers (i.e. passwords with menmonics). The quality of these, represented by her interview, leaves much to be desired: “What is your favourite food?” being the one quoted. There is some very good recent evidence regarding the flawednature of such questions. These flaws are both false negative (people’s preferences change) and false positive (easy to remember, and therefore not likely to be forgotten, are generally easy to find out or even guess). For example, the answer to “What is your favourite food?” is probably “chocolate” in a large proportion of cases. Next, they discussed the “biometric” elements. Due to having burnt her finger on foodstuff recently (not an uncommon occurrence, I would think) she had a plaster on the index finger they use, obscuring part of the print. Again, this presents both false positive and false negative issues.

Once again, the UK ID Card scheme is shown to be deeply flawed at the most basic level.