Yesterday, the Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons took oral evidence from David Blunkett MP, the Home Secretary and Desmond Browne MP, Minister of State for Citizenship and Immigration, Katherine Courtney, Director, Identity Cards Programme, and Stephen Harrison, Head, Identity Card Policy Unit, Home Office.
There was a repeat of a previous soundbite, allegedly based on secret information
"in excess of one third of terrorists use multiple identities"
"35% of terrorists use false identities"
Do they mean 35% of the multiple identities which are used by terrorists are actually British identities ?
If the figure is really so high, then civil service and Ministers' heads need to roll, as there must either be staggering incompetence, or else there are terrorist sympathisers working within the system.
If the figure of 35% only includes a small proportion of United Kingdom identities, then to use this as supporting evidence for a UK ID Card is dishonest - even if the proposed system worked perfectly, the effect on terrorists use of multiple identities would be negligible.
How many false identities does a terrorist or spy actually need ? Probably only one at most.
David Cameron MP (Conservative) quoted previously heard evidence from Professor Martyn Thomas of the UK Computing Research Committee:
"There is a technical systems engineering issue here which is captured in popular wisdom by "don't put all your eggs in one basket". If you create either a single card that has multi functions or a single database then you are adding to the nation's critical infrastructure unnecessarily and by doing that you are making a very large range of services, probably a growing range of services, vulnerable to a single attack, either a deliberate attack or a fault that arises as a consequence of mis-implementation or accident."
David Blunkett said in reply:
"I love debating with academics. I am happy to have a debate with Professor Thomas".
We look forward to David "Mastermind" Blunkett debating computer systems security.
David Blunkett in response to questions about the ?2500 and ?1000 civil penalties in the Draft ID Card Bill:
"It is very important to avoid martyrs"
Despite not shedding any further light on the actual costs of the proposed system, it did emerge that there have been huge technical problems with the Passport Office's small scale Biometric Pilot scheme, which , according to Katherine Courtney, is
"not for testing the robustness and scalability" of the system
When will somebody at the Home Office bother to think about the scalability issues and cost of a system for 60 million people ?
If you find David Blunkett's pronouncements to be too authoritarian, then consider Des Browne, who seems to believe that the Compulsory Biometric Database, will somehow enable the tracking of people:
"who may have bad thoughts or bad intentions"
Is the Government seriously talking about Orwellian Thought Crimes ?
How exactly are such bad thoughts and intentions to be recorded in a database ? Perhaps unproven, hearsay, rumours and libels are to be recorded as "facts" on the "clean database" ?