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News - Press Release

Research Reveals an Almost Four to One Majority
in Favour of Entitlement Cards


London, January 30, 2003 – As the Government explores ways of establishing citizens’ entitlement to receive public services, a new NOP survey, conducted on behalf of SchlumbergerSema, reveals that UK citizens support the introduction of entitlement cards with an almost four to one majority.

The independent survey *(see footnote) found that almost 60% of the population strongly agreed with the idea of entitlement cards while a further 20% agreed. Only 16% disagreed to any extent. Moreover, these statistics showed relatively little variation by social class, by age group or indeed by extent of internet usage, which suggests a broad consensus spanning the so-called "digital divide".

The most frequently given reasons for approving the idea - quoted by around one in four respondents in each case – were to address fraud, to enhance control of illegal immigration and a general view that making it easier to identify individuals was a good thing.

When asked about the kind of information that they would be happy to see stored on a card, at least two thirds of respondents in each case, were happy for driving licence number, passport number, national insurance number, national health service number and emergency medical information, such as blood type or serious allergies, to be included on the card. Indeed, in the case of emergency medical information, the percentage of respondents who were happy to have such information on a card rose to almost 90%, while only 3% were unhappy with data of any kind being stored in this way.

“This pattern of response suggests a widespread public understanding and approval of ways in which a card storing a variety of data could offer advantages to citizens in their dealings with public services,” said Geoff Llewellyn, strategy and Government relations director, SchlumbergerSema.

Critical to the success of a scheme would be the assurance that an entitlement card, once issued following thorough checks on a person’s identity, could not be fraudulently used by another person. In order to “padlock” a card to its rightful owner, and thus avoid this danger, the use of a personal “biometric” (i.e. a unique characteristic of the individual such as a fingerprint or an iris photograph) should be examined and explored as a technique. This would give the highest possible assurance in authenticating the cardholder’s identity.

Asked to state a preference between fingerprints or iris photography as the biometric to be employed, almost 50% of respondents said they would prefer iris photography with only 30% saying they would prefer a fingerprint to be used. SchlumbergerSema believes that this evident greater public acceptability, coupled with a number of technical considerations, argues strongly for the further exploration of non-intrusive and easy-to-use biometrics technology, such as iris photography, as the most appropriate biometric to be employed for a full-scale entitlement card scheme.

Finally, when asked if they would expect to pay for such a card, half of the respondents who agreed with the idea said yes and would expect to pay around £20 for a card that lasted five years.

The results of this research support the SchlumbergerSema response to the Government’s entitlement card consultation paper, due on Friday 31 January.

*NOP Research conducted telephone interviews with 1001 adults aged 15+, employing a quota sample between 17th - 19th January 2003

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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

For further information contact:
Caroline Crouch Katherine Elmore-Jones
SchlumbergerSema Herald Communications
Tel: 020 7830 4233 Tel: 020 7340 6324
Email: ccrouch@slb.com / kelmore-jones@heraldcommunications.com