Say aaarrggh!

[Dave Birch] There’s a clearly a desperate need for a 21st-century trust infrastructure for both people and things in Italy. Here’s some news from the Internet of Things.

Work by the University of Turin’s mountain pastoral department has given consumers the ability to check individual cheeses, wheel by wheel, and get a large dollop of information to back up the evidence of their taste buds… The University of Turin’s Giampiero Lombardi said the consumer accesses the information through QR codes and an RFID tag printed onto the cheese wheel wrapper… For individual farmers, setting up the database and ability to use QR codes and RFID tags cost between 700-2000 Euros, but the researchers are hoping that farmers from each Alps grazing zone will collaborate on the equipment to lower the individual price.

[From Italian cheese puts traceability to the test - National Rural News - Agribusiness and General - General - Stock & Land]

Since QR codes are trivial to copy, and cheap RFID tags not much better, the security of this system rests on the integrity of the database, and maintaining that is expensive, hence the price tag. But nevertheless good luck to them, because there are undoubtedly parts of Italy where the reporting of cheese origin falls below the high standards that consumers might expect. I wonder if the crackdown on bogus cheese is part of the Italian government’s renewed interest in shrinking less-regulated parts of the economy.

Under the new rules all payments in cash will be forbidden above a €1,000 threshold. The threshold was previously fixed at €2,500, surely a bit too high for a country struggling with endemic tax evasion like Italy;

[From Open Europe Blog]

Hurrah! Go for the belly of the beast, that’s what I say. Anyway, what I wanted to say was that the apparent existence of black-market illegally labelled cheese does not put me off of visiting Italy (I shall be in Rome in April for the EPCA). But this does.

One in five Italian dentists is unqualified, along with an estimated 10,000-15,000 doctors, it was reported today.

More than a thousand people were charged in Italy last year with unauthorised exercise of a medical profession. They included fake doctors, spurious dentists and even a few sham nurses.

In an average year, according to police figures, about 1,000 people have been convicted of the offence. But the penalty is only a fine of up to €516 (£440).

“We catch phoney dentists who laugh in our face,” Captain Marco Datti of the carabinieri told the daily La Repubblica. “They say: ‘I’ll just pay €500, change premises and start again’.”

[From Health warning over Italy's fake dentists and phoney doctors | World news | The Guardian]

I’m sick of the sight of that diploma, as anyone in our office will tell you! In the last couple of months I’ve been there half a dozen times to get a new crown, fix a broken tooth, get a filling. I hate going to the dentist. (My present dentist excepted, naturally.) Still, at least here in Britain we can sure that we are visiting a real dentist. Oh, wait…

The UK’s dental regulator, the General Dental Council (GDC), has successfully prosecuted two individuals for practising dentistry illegally.

The cases bring the total number of successful prosecutions by the GDC to five in the last six months.

[From Dentistry.co.uk | News | Two fake 'dentists' fined]

How much effort is it to print out a fake diploma and stick it on a wall. The one of the wall of my dentist’s office looks very impressive, but I haven’t the slightest idea how to verify it. There’s no chip, no digitally-signature, no biometric link to the dentist. I can’t even read what it says because it’s in Latin.

If I seem obsessed with the dental example, it’s because I am a total baby at the dentist. So these kinds of stories literally make me sick. My hands are shaking as I type this…

A bogus dentist is facing court in the US after detectives discovered his makeshift surgery – stocked with DIY rather than dental tools. And officials in Palm Beach, Florida, believe that there may be as many as 300 unlicensed dentists in the city and surrounding counties.

[From BBC News | Health | Fake dentist 'pulled teeth with pliers']

Now I don’t want to go to Florida either! What if I get toothache? What if I’m rushed to a dental survey only to be operated on a by a boy from (very probably) Brazil? From now on, I’m going to use this as the very real test case for any proposed mass-market trust infrastructure. When I break a tooth in Boca Raton, how is the infrastructure going to tell me whether the man in the white coat is actually dentist?

Seriously. How?

Never mind the boring, standard, examples and use cases for (e.g.) NSTIC. How will NSTIC help me to know that I have booked an appointment with a big cheese not a bogus one?

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers


These are the personal opinions of Consult Hyperion and its guests and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinion of its clients or suppliers. To discuss how any of the technologies discussed in this post can benefit your business, please contact Consult Hyperion.

Comments

  1. Dave Nikolejsin says

    David, your question at the end is a great one, but I’m wondering why you discount NSTIC so quickly? I’m glad you said use cases because I think the NSTIC architecture actually heads us to the answer.

    The way I think about it is by asking who actually decides who is a “real” dental surgeon” anyway? Here in BC it’s the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia. I’m sure it’s a similar licensing body in most other civilized jurisdictions. But how did they get that role? It’s actually the GOVERNMENT that has the power, which it delegates via statutes and regulations (same for doctors, lawyers, etc.). We then trust that the delegated body makes sure the person actually went to school, passed the tests, stays in good standing (more on that in a sec), etc.

    So what’s that got to do with the NSTIC architecture? The way I’d like to see things evolve is that government’s move to a world where the licensing bodies issue professionals digital credentials (for on-line proof) at the same time they issue paper credentials (i.e. diplomas for hanging on the wall as in person proof). This should be easy as it was governments that created these licensing bodies and the rule books that they operate under in the first place. Time to move to the 21st century!

    Once those on-line, digital credentials exist the NSTIC architecture makes sense and can work. You, as a Relying party, (via your yet to be invented Identity Agent) can request “proof” the dentist is legit from the Authoritative Party (the college). In my perfect world the college will have stood up the on-line infrastructure to respond to such queries and respond with the necessary digital claims, all properly digitally signed. You trust the claim because ultimately it comes from the government.

    So why would the college actually stand up that infrastructure. I like to think for 2 reasons: first because the government told them to because the government “gets” the importance of digital ID claims to the economy, but also because of the big benefit it could bring to the college regarding the very point of your post. Once this is working you can prove who is a legit dentist, doctor lawyer in real time. So if someone has no real authority, or has their privileges suspended or revoked for any reason, the College just updates their system and the professional is instantly out of business.

    Digital beats paper and the loosely coupled architecture of NSTIC makes it possible.

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