On a hiding to nothing

January 30th, 2008

Some unscrupulous litter-bug left a copy today’s Guardian on the floor of a train, but the proverbial silver lining is that my eyes were drawn to an article about a person under witness protection.

“The Witness Protection Scheme is designed to look after people who have essential evidence about some of the most serious offences, and who therefore face a real threat to their safety […] some of these are innocent bystanders […]
Individulas living under the scheme have to trade in their old life for a new one […] and changing their identity, with medical records and educational qualifications under a new name …”

I have mentioned (in passing) before that the NIR database cloud/grid/mesh will make maintaining the credibility of the Witness Protection Scheme very difficult. Currently your ‘identity’ can be decomposed and reconstituted quite easily by altering your official paper trail – and yet the witness protection scheme does not provide full untracability:

“In 1999, the IRA supergrass Martin McGartland survived an attempt on his life while living under an assumed identity in Whitley Bay”

Now consider that the ‘selling point’ of the NIR project is that your unique biometric information will be stored on the database and prevent people from assuming multiple identities. You run into a problem, in that there has to be the capability to completely expunge the record of a person – possibly across a number of linked (even transnational) databases and create a false history (which in turn will have have its own history forged – think timestamps!). Either the NIR has to be designed to be compromisable or schemes such as WPS have to be compromised.

And they didn’t deface the crossword either!!

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