[ISN] Cry to beat iris scanners

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Mon May 10 02:46:34 EDT 2004


By Lucy Sherriff
7th May 2004 

An MP who volunteered to take part in the UK ID card trials says the
iris scanner used is uncomfortable and made his eyes water.

Poor chap, you're probably thinking, but not exactly a tragedy.  
However, this isn't just a whinge. The water in his eyes actually
stopped the scanner from working, and it seems long eyelashes and hard
contact lenses could fox it too.

So we're going to have a system that is derailed by a few tears and
fluttering eyelashes?

Roland Sables, the man in charge of the trial, said that he was
expecting a failure rate of about seven per cent. Most of these
failures, he argued, would be caused by problems with camera
positioning, although others "are due to eye malformations, watery
eyes and long eyelashes in a small percentage [of cases]".

Sables said that so far the iris scanner had failed to match people
with their details in just four per cent of cases. Scale that up to
the UK population and you've got nearly 2.5m people who won't be
correctly identified.

Bob Russell, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and the
man with the rheumy eyes, speculated that the iris scanner could also
cause problems for people who were particularly photo sensitive, or
suffered from epilepsy.

John Denham, the Home Affairs Select Committee chairman, who was also
visiting the pilot registration centre, said that while the overall
registration process was very simple, there were some technology
issues that needed to be addressed.

He pointed out that people with disabilities would have difficulty
moving into the right position to be scanned. "Some of the crucial
issues about the technology will be better informed at the end of the
trial," he added.

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