The UK's Daily Mail wanted to prove that the unforgeable National Identity Cards already being issued to foreign nationals were easily forgeable, so they brought in a pair of cyber-savants, master hacker Adam Laurie and Dutch computer security sage Jeroen van Beek.
Within a few minutes, using little more than a cell phone and a laptop, the duo duped all the data from an official ID card's microchip and created a clone. From there they could change any info they wanted; facial image, name, fingerprints, and even add data such as "entitled to benefits" which gets the unqualified cardholder "free" healthcare from the Brit National Health Service.
And just for fun, they added an entry that can be read by any card scanner, "'I am a terrorist - shoot on sight."
When confronted with the evidence, a faceless functionary (of a Monty Pythonish Ministry of Priggish Denial?) proclaimed, "We are satisfied the personal data on the chip cannot be changed or modified and there is no evidence this has happened."
While the Mail tale raises the specter of criminals and terrorists using the fakes to fool the electronic readers intended to check the card's authenticity, they missed the bigger implications: the massive black market industry in counterfeit cards guaranteed to accompany the widespread dissemination of England's upcoming national ID cards designed for the general population.
Forgery will become a cottage industry. ID theft will be epidemic. Government benefit theft, bank theft, merchant theft will become a way of life for anyone who wants and can afford a counterfeit card.
Electronic experts are already rushing to reassure the politicians that such can't possibly happen, who in turn are rushing to reassure the populace that such can't possibly happen.
The tech corporations, in the US as well as in England, are deeply embedded in each other's bailiwick, with billions at stake for the corporations and personal power bases at stake for the bureaucrats.
The disconnect comes from a divergence of cultures. Public pen pushers just cannot comprehend where technology comes from. They can't envision two guys in a garage birthing the burgeoning Hewlett-Packard Corporation, or a couple of computing hobbyists named Steve inventing the Apple computer.
So while the techie world has always been a bottom-up culture the government thought process has, from time immemorial, been a top-down paradigm. No wonder the gov goons don't get it. They think because some certified documented credentialed academically baptized "expert" tells them the moon is square the moon is damn well square.
The people telling them the moon is square are the squares in the boardrooms of the IT industry. They too have no clue of their own beginnings. Most tech giants are not run by the Wozniak wizards or the Packard prodigies of the world but by professional corporatcrats who see nothing beyond the dollar signs dancing in their eyes.
And this is why, in the end, governments and their incestuous corporate enablers will shove their wet dreams of total electronic control down the throats of everyone and why, in the end, a new generation of teenage techies will run circles around those digital delusions with commercially available equipment coupled with their own ingenuity.
And this, as libertarians have been warning all along, will produce a world of aggravation and expense for the rest of us.
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