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Earn Loyalty Points on Your Blunkett Card

We’re all agreed then, we’ll call it a ‘Blunkett’. This momentous decision was taken around the table at a meeting on the 24th Floor of Tower 42 in the City of London. Around a dozen leading vendors, journalist and analysts were discussing compliance and identity management over lunch and having broadly agreed, that in principle, a national identity card wasn’t able to offer the bold solution promised by the government, there was an energetic argument over what such a card should be called, as neither “Trust” or “Entitlement” were appropriate adjectives. Posted by Hello

Mrs N.A. Jones of Kidwelly,aged 73, collects her new Blunkett confirming her identity as Mrs N.J. Jones aged 24

In the end, we settled on calling it a “Blunkett”, as this would leave no doubt in anyone’s minds over any card’s true intentions and objectives. We did consider for a moment outsourcing the national identity card to Tesco or even Nectar because citizens would recognise that carrying or using such a card for eGovernment services might earn loyalty points or benefits with the Inland Revenue or the National Health Service but this was rejected on the basis that the commercial brands were trusted and the Home Office was clearly not a brand that inspired confidence.

Steering our way back to more serious matters, we were attempting to find ways of encouraging a culture of trust in a world that increasingly demands authentication of one kind or another, whether it be logging-on to email or transacting with Amazon. The sad truth of the matter, is that business and government, in the battle to reduce risk, is either overwhelmed with identity management policies and solutions or quite the opposite, has a limited capability which achieves little or nothing

“What we need to do”, I said with a glib remark, “Is take the whole debate from tactical to practical. How do we frame the issues that surround security, regulatory compliance, identity management and policy management in a neat package which is clearly understood at both board level and from the human resources dimension? Simply approaching the central risk-management argument from a technical perspective, says little or nothing about protecting brand, delivering competitive advantage or even impacting bottom-line costs in reducing fraud or the loss of intellectual property”.

With companies about to be hit with a paper blizzard of new compliance issues, simplifying the underlying technical framework and presenting the message in a clearly approachable business context is a challenge for both the regulators and the technology vendors to solve. Ironically, some wonder whether the underlying regulatory exercise, influenced by Basel II and Sarbanes Oxley will actually achieve what is intended and a well placed but anonymous source comments: “The current governance paper chase prevents compliance officers from spending any time actually checking for malpractice and ‘DOING’ anything about it. The FSA et al, let alone Sarbanes-Oxley, could not have helped the miscreants more if they had actually been allowed to draft the rules!”

Like it or not, the management of risk, will, from next year, become as much a part of one’s business responsibilities as the management of pensions. The best advice for company directors is to break the regulatory compliance package down into its constituent parts and seek to introduce policies and systems that simplify processes rather than making them more elaborate. In other words, if you are holding a dozen different passwords and identities for access to corporate applications, can these be reduced by half?

While government plans to introduce a ‘Blunkett’ card in an attempt to simplify its own identity management challenges, business will discover that while consistency will bring its own rewards, understanding how all the pieces that touch on risk management fit together in an everyday, practical working context, will be a big challenge in 2005.


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