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individual project

Extracts from this document...


A study of a smart card ID system in government.

A study of a smart card ID system in government

Submitted in partial fulfilment

Of the requirements for the degree

BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems

Leeds Metropolitan University

May 2004


I would like to acknowledge the contribution others have made during my time at university and especially during the final year of my course towards the construction and completion of the individual project.

First of all I would like to thank Ms Linda Strickler my supervisor for whom has stuck by me through some difficult times and has provided me with all the support and guidance that I have needed. Without her generous support and desire to succeed I would have been lost within the project.

Secondly I would like to thank Mr Steve Cockerill for his astounding support and understanding throughout some very hard times that I faced. Without his strength and belief in me I would have been in a very difficult situation.

And lastly I would like to thank my friends and family for their unwavering support throughout my years at university.

Thank You All

Plagiarism Disclaimer

I certify that all material in this dissertation which is not my own has been identified and properly attributed.

Signed: -------------------------------------------------

Date: ---------------------------------------------------


The purpose of this report is to outline the concerns over the current issues of a national ID card. It is not just the idea of the card that is steeped in controversy but actually also the technology behind a national ID card scheme.

The technology behind the scheme is the ‘smart card’ revolution, and ethical questions being raised by concerned members of the public and other organisation are that; should the scheme go ahead? Will the data stored on the cards be actually safe from criminal abuse?

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,(Cash verses cashless, 1996), there has also been a growth in digital mobile telephony and satellite television decoding.It is estimated that there is a potential global demand for electronic purses and telephone cards at over a billion cards a year. This is especially an important area for manufacturers to invest in as there is a global demand for mobile telephony, and as we are witnessing in the UK, digital mobile telephony has advanced at a tremendous pace in the last few years especially with the introduction of more sophisticated 2.2G and 3G handsets. With also the introduction of digital television, smart cards will have to become even more sophisticated if they are to cope with the planned launch of 4G mobile telephony in several years, and with also the greater advancements in digital television and the potentials they have to offer.

                                (Source: Smart Cards principles, practice, applications, 1988)

5.0 The Security criteria

The term ‘security’ has more than one meaning. A system can fail to be ‘secure’ not only when it fails to protect users or their data from hackers but also from computer viruses and even if the system fails to operate or function correctly.

The following security points need to be considered and are vital if a secure smart ID card system is to be implemented;


The success of the national ID card will heavily rely on the smart card system being able to protect the confidentiality or privacy of information. A form of protection is required not only to maintain the main data files stored on the card such as medical details, work details and home address etc, but also the data stored on the computer systems that may be accessed by using the cards. However this should not be such a ‘complex’ issue as many smart card systems are already in use where confidentiality and privacy are concerned.


Impersonation will be a very difficult problem for the governments ID card to tackle. An individual impersonating someone will basically allow them (someone other than the cardholder) to gain unauthorised access, and make use of the functions allowed by the card. So what are the options available to the government?! Would it solve or alleviate the problem if there was a photo of the person associated with the card actually incorporated into the card along with a digital signature and a personal fingerprint. Impersonation incidents can affect the publics confidence towards the ID cards, and can damage the governments proposal of introducing it.

Data Integrity

There should be protection provided against the alteration of any data being held on the ID cards or computer systems either by accident or with malicious intent. But this is an area where smart cards are actually ‘leaders’ in such form of security. This is due to the fact that areas of memory on a smart card can be protected against any unauthorised access by an individual or applications software.


Computer systems are normally equipped with a fail-to-safety provision to protect one’s personal safety; this is to ensure that even if the entire system fails, there are no human lives at risk.

Where smart ID card systems are concerned with personal safety, the risks are very high as smart cards may give holders access to dangerous areas or allow them to cause danger.

None delivery

This is term used when data in a communications system is lost such as an order or a transaction. Smart card systems are often used to monitor transactions and events. Use of checks will help detect errors. One form of cross-checking that is available is numbering, which checks against duplication.


The accuracy of data is affected when any data is recorded or transmitted incorrectly. This inaccuracy can be caused by human error or even by poor contact of the ‘micro chip’ to the system or through electrical interference. The Smart ID card system will be often dealing with many different devices and contact conditions, so it must have a very wide electrical tolerance ranges, but it is because of this that there is an increase in the risk of errors passing through. However there are checks that are available that can be carried out depending on the type of error that has occurred. They are parity checks, cycle redundancy checks (CRC) and message authentication checks (MAC).

(Source: Smart Card Security and Applications, 1997)

6.0 Where is the government to use smart cards?

“…we face growing threats to security and prosperity of British Citizens from illegal migration and working, organised crime and terrorism, identity theft and fraud and fraudulent access to public services…”(www.homeoffice.gov.uk, 2003) .                                                                  

The UK government is still to catch up with other nations especially in Europe, where countries such as Germany and France have already adopted some form of national ID card in the form of smart cards concerning areas such as health, social security, and transport. Germany has introduced a national insurance smart card a few years ago, whilst their European counterpart Spain has a social security and health card planned for the near future. This scheme if it goes ahead, then it will provide the Spanish public with quick access to vital information. The Spanish authorities promise that the scheme will reduce both errors and misuse in the national social security and health systems. (Dix, A., 1995) [APPENDIX 7.0]

However the British government announced the introduction of a trial  version of the ID card scheme on a selected population of 10,000 people in April 26th 2004.        (ITV News, 2004)

The UK government intends to use the new ID cards in almost all of its departments affecting the British public. Not only will the card be used to combat illegal immigration and fraudulent claims in social security, the government also wishes to combine the one card to incorporate many other functions as a multi-functional card. The plans are to introduce the national ID card in the following areas but all of the departmental procedures combined into one multi-functional card:

Social Security

Like many other nations of the world, Britain is not exempt from benefit fraud. There are already many systems and procedures set in place to tackle such problems but they will not always be one hundred % effective.

Due to the smart cards multi-functionality, the British governments’ idea is to use the smart card for identification before paying any benefits to the person. Any benefits owed will then be paid to the smart ID card as it can also act as an electronic purse, or the amount loaded to the card could then be transferred to a bank account by inserting it into an ATM/cash machine or telephone terminal.

(Smart Card Security and Applications, 1997)

Benefit fraud is quite easy to commit. Currently, the British system of benefit payments is either via direct debit or by a benefit voucher booklet, and the choice of receipt of benefit is up to the individual at the moment; however the drive is to get everyone receiving benefit payments electronically via the direct debit system. The reason for this is that direct debit payments are ‘fraud proof’, whereas if a benefit booklet was to be stolen or lost, anyone with intent to defraud the benefits agency could easily do so simply by walking into a Post Office and claiming to be the person as stated on the benefit booklet and then withdrawing any benefit payments that are due.

Any identification of a particular person will be verified via a photograph and or thumbprint incorporated into the ID card. The government believes that benefit fraud will surely be curbed in this manner, if a smart ID card system is adopted. The other benefits to this are that the government agency saves cash handling costs, and there is an immediate and complete audit trail. (Smart Card Security and Applications, 1997)

Health care

Healthcare is one of the most important aspects of the future ID card functions. It promises to be one of the most important and beneficial fields of use for smart card technology, yet one that unleashes the fiercest debates about privacy and misuse of personal information. Other conflicts include the ownership of the data on the card, and the access of government or insurance companies to stored information, especially when it is a multi-functioning card.

(Information society paper, G-7 conference, 1995)

In the UK, the pilot Exmouth Health Care Card received very positive responses from both users and professionals alike.

(Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), 1995)

The main issue around the ID card is what type of information is put on the card. Storing information on a health card could provide direct access to health and patient details thus proving beneficial for relevant officials and the emergency services.

Germany has implemented a national system of smart health cards with details of health insurance stored on them, but no data about the cardholder’s health.

(Identity cards: putting you in the picture, 1995)


“By the end of the decade, it has been estimated that 50 % of the use of smart cards will be for transportation either…” (Siemens review, 1995).

There are already transport smart cards in use in the UK by various private transport companies. One such example of an operational smart transport card can be found in Greater Manchester and is known as the ‘OneCard’. (Smart card case study, 1995)

The government favours a form of transport card, and is encouraging the drive for local public transport smart cards. In particular, the government is behind the drive for a transport card for Londoners. The government is working with the state owned London Transport department to initiate a scheme for the 3.5 million potential users of the scheme if it goes ahead. The majority of the users will be Londoners and the objective of this is to introduce a system that will help ease congestion at ticket booths and speed up passengers’ transit through the tube stations.

Another suggestion is to incorporate bus passes for school children and for old aged pensioners in the multi functional ID cards, according to local authority policies on such matters. Another scheme yet to be developed is the tolling of motorists using motorways on a per use basis. If this scheme is implemented then it will generate extra revenue for the government.

(The world in your wallet, 1995)


Across Britain, there are local authorities already trialling a smart card for students. The card incorporates the students’ details as well as acting as a registration card and for some, even acts as a ‘free meal’ voucher if they are entitled to one.

(Smart Card Security and Applications, 1997)

The technology in its visible form is quite simple. When attending morning and afternoon registration, and even lessons the student is more or less registered as soon as he/she walks in through the door. The only responsibility of the student is to carry the smart card at all times when on school premises on a normal school day, and then swipe the card through a designated card reader when required. The system automatically takes the students attendance and the data is available at the teachers’ request. However only the registration data will be available to the teachers and any other data is available to appropriate officials of the school.

(Smart Cards: Opportunities for public sector applications, 1994)

So far in this chapter there has been an introduction to a brief history of the smart card and how the technology behind it works. The chapter also looked at its competitors and alternatives along with the potential government uses for the smart card by the British government. In the next chapters there will be a comparative analysis between the government survey concerning the issue of the ID cards to be and the survey conducted for this report. There will also be a critical review of the ID cards with a discussion on some ethical scenarios and the publics views on the issue which will be covered by a conclusion.


Chapter 3

7.0 Methodology

“…research can be perceived as seeking through methodical processes to add to ones own body of knowledge and hopefully to that of others by the study of non- trivial facts and insights”. (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000) .

The methodology used will be to state and justify the reasons for using different methods selected for the research of the project, and defines how the actual research of the project is undertaken.

The focal point of the methodology is to consider the research design and the interpretation behind the chosen methodology, and therefore helping to choose an appropriate framework for answering the research question.

A comprehensive understanding of the various methods of research must be identified in order to understand the basis of research and its validity. There are many styles and approaches that can be adopted that use different methods of collecting data. However it is important to remember that no-one method is correct or wrong.

There are many styles and approaches that can be adopted that use different methods of collecting information. The two main methods are primary and secondary.

Primary research is an investigation, which involves collection of original data using accepted research methodology. (Bell, 1999).

Secondary research denotes an activity where by no original data is collected but instead the information on the research topic is drawn/investigated from the existing sources alone. (Bell, 1999).

The primary research will be of a quantitative nature whilst the secondary research will be of a qualitative nature.

Qualitative research- A qualitative research is more concerned to understand individual’s perception of the world, and they seek insight rather than statistical hypothesis. As an overview, this research method relies less on numbers and statistics but more on interviews, observations, and small number of questionnaires, focus groups, subjective reports and case studies. (Haralambos, 1993).

Quantitative research- A quantitative research collects the facts and studies the relationship of one set of facts to that of another. This particular technique is likely to produce quantified results and if possible, a general conclusion. An over view of quantitative research method is that it relies less on interviews, observations, case studies, numbers of questionnaires, but relies and is much focused on the collection and analysis of numerical data and statistics. (Haralambos, 1993).

7.1 Primary research [APPENDIX 8.0]

The people that will be interviewed will be a random population from Leeds city centre (from a sample of 100 people) who are going about their everyday lives. The questions will be based around the aim and objectives of the project. The answers provided by the public will be from a pre-determined range of answers; this will enable each of the interviews to be short and efficient and much more relevant to the research.

The survey questionnaire has been set to accomplish the following objective of the report;

  • To find out if the public support the ID scheme and if the results match up with the governmental statistic of that ‘80% of the UK population favour an ID card’.

To find out if the public believe that if it is fair for them to pay for the ID cards or if they should be freely issued by the government

The self-administered questionnaire has for a long time, been an important and useful method of obtaining information for researchers. It is a very popular method, as well as being very effective. Questionnaires are cost effective, well structured, and the results are related to the topic. It will be very simple and basic in the questions that will be placed in it, and will also be very well structured.  

7.2 Secondary research

Secondary research is source-based information. It is the work of others, most probably the experts in that field or subject matter. It is work that has already been published and is available in any format text or numeric. Secondary information summarises the work of many different sources and presents the overview of a subject area. It is background information, which can enhance an individual’s knowledge in that field and basically provide a cutting edge when dealing with primary information. (Bell, 1999).

Extensive secondary data was gathered by conducting a literature review on “A study of a smart card ID system in government”.

There was much secondary information used. These sources compromised of:

  • Journals and pamphlets
  • Text books
  • Internet.
  • Reports and PDF papers
  • News reports from the media on television and radio

The secondary research will fulfil the following objectives of the report.

  • To identify the problems, cost, and public opinion on the scheme. The research will also engage in matters such as how the technology works, how it will be tested and what it will entail. It will also have a comparative analysis of the proposed technology with other forms of cards available. It will also include a brief history of the technology and where it is heading in the future.
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.Government Executive. Washington: Feb. Vol. 36, Iss. 2; p. 58 (2 pages)

Schofield, J. (2004) Online: Smart places: Intelligent environments and location-based services could be the next big step forward for computing, reports Jack Schofield .The Guardian. Manchester (UK): Mar 25,. p. 23

Travis, A. (2004), Minister blocks ID cards as school ‘passport’, The Guardian 28th Jan p18.

Taher, A. (2003), Mobile nation, Metro (Yorkshire) 20th Oct p11.

Torbet, G. et al. (1995) ‘Vital Signs for Identification’, Computer Bulletin pp. 14

Vijayan,J (2004).LOW DRAW FOR SMART CARDS.Computerworld. Framingham: Feb 9, Vol. 38, Iss. 6; p. 30 (2 pages)

Widlake, B (1995) Serious Fraud Office, Little Brown and Company

BBC news online (2004) State Racism fears over ID cards. Available from;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2078604.stm [Accessed 22/04/04]

BBC news online (2004) Other countries ID schemes.Available from;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2078604.stm [Accessed 22/04/04]

BBC news online (2004) Public happy to carry ID cards. Available from;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2078604.stm [Accessed 22/04/04]

10.0 Appendices

Appendix 1.0: Research Proposal;

Appendix 2.0: Exhibit of a ‘chip card’ and a ‘magnetic stripe’ card;

Appendix 2.1: Exhibit of a ‘contact less’ smart card;

Appendix 3.0: Article from Home Office website with regards to David Blunkett MP;

Appendix 4.0: Answers to FAQ’s on identity cards;

Appendix 5.0: News Article from the Guardian;

Appendix 5.1: News Article from the Daily Mirror;

Appendix 5.2: News Article from the Daily Mirror and the Metro (Yorkshire);

Appendix 5.3: News Article from the Guardian;

Appendix 5.4: News Article from the BBC News Website;

Appendix 5.5: News Article from the BBC News Website concerning racism;

Appendix 6.0: News Article from the BBC News Website on ID card legislation;

Appendix 6.1: News Article from the BBC News Website on a mandatory IDcard;

Appendix 6.2: News Article from the BBC News Website on ID card andpenalties;

Appendix 7.0: News Article from the BBC News Website with a picture of the proposed ID card and related stories in Europe;

Appendix 8.0: The actual Survey Questionnaire used for the report;

Appendix 8.1: A qualitative result of the entire survey;

Appendix 8.2: A quantitative summarised result of the entire survey.

                                                                                                                                Individual Project


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