More public relations on ID cards from Home Office Minister Beverly Hughes, which needs to be argued against:
ID route to beating fraud
Saturday November 22, 2003
I would like to clarify a couple of points raised by your article on European identity cards (ID cards may cut queues, but learn lesson of history, warn Europeans, November 15).
First, I should stress that, while we will continue to work closely with our European partners, most of whom already have existing ID card schemes,
we will not be replicating wartime ID papers. Instead, we will be developing a new, highly secure biometric identity cards scheme. This will help us to ensure that the scheme brings real benefits in tackling illegal employment, immigration abuse, identity fraud and terrorism.
Which European ID Card schemes have actually been shown to cost effectively reduce illegal employment, immigration abuse, identity fraud and terrorism ?
The Home Office has still not provided a detailed account of how exactly
ID Cards are going to be used to tackle these illegal activities. Where are the published cost/benefit assumptions which balance how much of a reduction there is expected to be in these illegal activities against the massive cost, disruption to the economy and the loss of indivdual privacy ?
Biometric identity cards will provide the most secure form of identification ever. The personal information held encrypted in the card will be only that required to verify identity.
It is interesting to see that this Beverly Hughes is being a bit more cautious than her fellow Home Office Ministers David Blunkett or Fiona Mactaggart (c.f. http://www.spy.org.uk/spyblog/archives/000098.html with respect to claiming that Biometrics are "unique" or "unforgeable".
Is this a firm promise from the Minister that there will be nothing on the ID Card or on the central database except for the Biometric Identifier, a right of residence flag, a right to work flag, a card serial number, and a card date of date of issue only ?
It is neither technically necessary nor desirable, for any other details to be stored on the ID card i.e. no name, no address, no gender, no race etc. and nothing else should held on the central database in secret over and above what is on the card. Nothing should be printed on the face of the card over and above what is stored securely in the chip.
These details could, of course, be presented as part of the primary documentation used to authenticate the enrollment and registration process, but they must not be stored on the ID Card system.
Or is the Home Office actually planning something much more Orwellian and intrusive ?
Ongoing parliamentary scrutiny of the government's proposals will ensure that individual rights continue to be protected.
To say that we are not impressed with the Parliamentary scrutiny of anything to do with technology would be an understatement. The lack of informed debate and consultation on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act brings shame on both the Government and Parliament - is it any wonder that they seem increasingly out of touch with the public ?
Furthermore, the police will not have the authority to demand production of identity cards on the spot, and in implementing the identity cards scheme
Is the Minister hereby ruling out the suggestion from David Blunkett that there might soon be mobile technology available to the police that would allow the checking of Biometric Identifiers against the central database, without even requiring an actual ID Card to be available ?
the government remains committed to tackling any sort of discrimination.
Does that meane no discrimination or second class public services aimed at those people who choose not to register for the ID Card or who choose not to use one ?
Beverley Hughes MP
Home Office Minister
The public motto of the Home Office is "Building a Safe, Just and Tolerant Society" but what they seem to be building is a massive technological surveillance infrastructure. We do not think that they intend to abuse this at the moment, but the loss of individual privacy that it entails can never be reveresed and this system could so easily become "a rod for our own backs" in the hands of corrupt individuals or extremist politicians in the future. The only procedural and technological safeguard to our privacy and liberty, is not to collect and collate the intrusive surveillance data in the first place.