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Our Response to the Consultation Paper
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Getting there - An iterative process

The well understood sensitivity of the issue indicates the need to progress gradually rather than by “big bang”. Because of the history and tradition
of the British people, we believe that arriving at a universal entitlement multi-application smart card may be an iterative process stretching over a number of years. We suggest that such a multi-application card would be the desirable end point of the process, but that development could take one of two paths from where we are now:

  • path 1. the introduction of some sort of identity device e.g. “dumb” card that would enable basic identification and third party interaction with existing legacy database information
  • path 2. the introduction of a smart card and central database which at this point would contain minimal authentication information but would have the ability to be upgraded quickly and easily.

It would then be possible to migrate from either of these paths to the sophisticated smart card at a later date, once the concerns over entitlement cards have been addressed and some of the potential benefits realised.

We believe that trying to move from where we are now to a sophisticated smart card solution without one of these interim steps would underestimate the business process and social attitude changes that would need to take place.

Figure 5

Figure 5 

The SESAM-Vitale national insurance project in France provides an example of this model. Currently, French citizens and health care providers have been issued with smart cards. This card is used to store data and digitally sign and encrypt transmissions. The underlying technology uses symmetric keys (3-DES standard) with the plan to move to more sophisticated, state-of-the-art technology, such as PKI, in the future. Thus, in the above diagram, France has chosen the path 2, taking advantage of the fact that once people have smart cards in their hands, those cards and the chips on the cards are easy to upgrade to more sophisticated security devices.

The card – The critical component of a possible system

Clearly there are a number of components in a working entitlement card scheme but the core component is, we believe, the card itself and we have considered four basic types of scenario, although there could be many others. The four basic scenarios we have considered are: “no card”, dumb card, smart card and multi-application smart card.

When the four scenarios are considered in a cost-benefit analysis as presented in figure 6, it is not only clear that different levels of investment by “UK plc” would yield different levels of aggregate return, but also that each scenario taken alone could be economically justified.

This table describes only the card options>> more

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