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SchlumbergerSema Responds to Home Office Consultation Paper

A Smart Entitlement Card Would Improve Citizens Access to Government Services, Efficiency in Public Administration and Substantially Reduce Identity Fraud


London, January 30th, 2003, -- SchlumbergerSema today responded to the Home Office Consultation paper “Entitlement Cards and Identity Fraud” by outlining how a scheme employing smart cards could improve communication between citizens and Government. The company claims that a smart entitlement card would provide citizens with secure 24/7 access to government services, whether to check the status of their benefits or file a tax return. A universal card scheme would also greatly contribute to the enhancement of security.

The SchlumbergerSema response, announced today at Church House, Westminster, stated that should the Government go ahead with its Entitlement card scheme the choice of card is crucial to the success of the scheme. The company proposes that a smart card including a personal “biometric” unique to the holder would provide the UK with the strongest, electronically secured, proof of identity. They suggest that, for this purpose, the most appropriate biometric is a unique digital code derived from a photograph of the cardholder’s iris or possibly their entire face

A smart card contains a micro chip that can securely store digital, encrypted personal data which would effectively “padlock” the card to its rightful owner. At the time of issuing the card, the individual’s unique biometrics would be digitally encrypted and stored on the card’s chip. To prove the identity of the holder, and thus their entitlement to service, a range of security procedures could be used to “authenticate” the individual presenting the card.

For most transactions, a photograph on the card, or a Personal Identification Number (PIN) corresponding to the card, would give sufficient confidence in identifying the legitimate holder. For highly significant transactions however – such as entering or leaving the country – the biometrics encrypted on the card could be compared to that of the person presenting the card. As to which biometrics should be used in achieving the desired level of security, the company suggests that exploration of iris or full face photography is the most appropriate, for both technical and public acceptability reasons. Such techniques are ideal for large-scale, public use applications as it takes just a few seconds to take the photograph and derive the unique code, which is then stored on the card.

Aside from benefiting the citizen and the Government through enabling improved delivery of public services, SchlumbergerSema believes that a smart card system could also radically cut false identity fraud, resulting in savings for the UK economy of up to £1.6 billion a year. While investments over the past two decades have meant that a vast array of financial, business and government processes are now conducted electronically, the authentication of the citizen’s access to private and public services has lagged behind. This is becoming an increasing source of vulnerability, for both individuals whose identities may be stolen, and for the Government committed to efficient delivery of public services. A smart card-based system with the biometric “padlock” would provide a “gold standard” of personal identity verification to address this vulnerability.

“We believe that the introduction of an entitlement card will have a transforming effect on the delivery of public and private services just as the adoption of the credit card has transformed the economy,” commented Geoff Llewellyn, strategy and Government relations director, SchlumbergerSema. “Credit cards have changed the ground rules of retailing and of personal money management. A smart card-based entitlement scheme could do the same for both the management and consumption of public services. We see the main challenges associated with the possible introduction of an entitlement card system not in the technology – where robust and proven solutions are available – but in the institutional and legal framework within which it would operate.”

Public opinion is growing for a national ID card scheme. Independent NOP research commissioned by SchlumbergerSema to gauge public perception, shows that there is an almost four-to-one majority in favour of entitlement cards.

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About SchlumbergerSema
SchlumbergerSema is one of two business segments of Schlumberger Limited, a global technology services company. With more than 30,000 employees serving customers in 65 countries, SchlumbergerSema aggregates IT consulting, systems integration, managed services and related products to the oil and gas, telecommunications, energy and utilities, finance, transport and public sector markets. Leveraging the Schlumberger DeXa* Suite of Services, it also provides IP network connectivity, information security solutions, distributed computing support services and data center hosting services. In 2002, Schlumberger revenues were $13.5 billion. For more information, visit www.slb.com.

*Mark of Schlumberger

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