Monday, April 17, 2006

Authentication algorithms, and more Oysters for Easter

Tired, like me, of deciphering skewed letters and numbers in order to persuade a site that you're not a spambot?

This new authentication system is based on recognition of fluffy animals - specifically picking 3 kittens out of a 3 X 3 block of cute animals. It's fun and it definitely picks out the human beings.. I don't THINK it's a late April fool and it somehow seems very appropriate for easter (though maybe that should have been bunnies..?)

Blogscript has been to another, non-law, conference which shall Not Be Named, where, as usual, she nonetheless spent a good part of her time talking about IT law, and participated in a rather good panel discussion about ID cards and ubiquitous surveillance. I discovered that in re the Oyster card discussion of a few weeks back, although not much publicised, you can apparently buy "anonymous" Oyster cards ie ones without identifying information either stored on, or accessible via, the card, for particular cash values. Furthermore, unlike normal travel tickets, these are officially freely transferable. This seems to overcome the traceability problem, rather as pay as you go phones do: but it raises a new legal issue - since these prepaid transferable Oyster cards are essentially stored value digital cash, are London Transport an electronic money issuer and subject to the regulations of the Electronic Money Directive? Answer - I think not, because those rules only apply to electronic money issuers where the stored value is accepted by multiple outlets (hence store loyalty cards are also excluded.) But if as reported a while back, London Transport do intend the Oyster cards to be picked up by private enterprise as a means of paying for low value items like sweets, papers or coffees, that might change..

For those who want to seriously confuse any potential investigators of Oyster card electronic tracks, eg anti terrorist squads, private detectives, it was also suggested that season ticket users could meet up and swap cards two or three times a day.. although one feels this might interfere with the average commuter's actual working day.. Interesting stuff!

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