Jonathan Dimbleby programme, 13:15 ITV Sunday 28th November 2004, interviewed Peter Hain MP, the Leader of the House of Commons, in front of a studio audience.
Transcript of the section of the programme with Questions from the Audience about Identity Cards:
Man in front row
Man in Audience:
Do you think this ridiculous "climate of fear", is going to bully, and decieve us, into accepting your insidious little ID Cards ?
Well, first of all, I do not accept that there's a, a ridiculous "climate of fear", as you've just put it. I think we, in the Queen's Speech, and its confirmed in the opinion polls this week, both in terms of extra increase in support for the government, and, to our highest level for 18 months, and, also the Independent on Sunday opinion poll, the people think that these are commonsense proposals. We all carry ID. We carry ID, in terms of credit cards, we're often asked to produce it, it's difficult to travel now even on domestic flights, without showing a passport or some kind of photographic evidence,"
Why is this considered to be acceptable, proportionate or even an effective security measure on domestic internal
flights within the UK?
it's part of the, climate in which we live"
In other words this is an admission about the The Climate of Fear!
"and I think actually, theft of identity, which is a real problem, people steal your identity, and, are not who they say they are"
"theft of identity" is incredibly rare, the Home Office does not even bother to try to collect crime statistics about "identity theft". It is not the same as credit card fraud, which, in itself , is not the most important or widespread crime. Biometric ID Cards are useless to prevent online or mail order "customer not present" credit card fraud neither can they prevent e-banking "phishing" attacks
"This is a problem, we need to deal with , and I think that most people think it's a practical, commonsense measure.
Man in Audience:
If, if, if it's an important measure, erm, and vital in the fight against terrorism, you'll presumably want to bring it in as a matter of, urgency, rather than [indistinct] twenty
Well we are, it's it's in this Queen's Speech
But it doesn't come into force as a Compulsory ID card until 2013, so the next however many years that is, 7 or 8 years, presumably we're at even greater threat [indistinct]
Were building on the whole thing, to make sure we get it right. You your Passports, for example, and Driving Licences, are going to contain Biometric, Data, in future. This is the principle that we're building in, in Identity Cards.
Woman sitting at the edge in here
Woman in the Audience:
How does a former Left Wing Party Activist, who, fought on front lines, for Liberties, feel now, X years later, pulling out Conservative policies, which have long wanted Identity Cards. how do you square this up with yourself ?
I don't have any problem saying Identity Cards are a common sense approach. In a modern world, in which you know, you cannot travel on an internal flight from London elsewhere, without showing some kind of Identity."
Rubbish - Ryan Air and Easyjet and British Midland do ask for photo ID, British Airways does not insist on this. This has more to do with trying to stop ticket touts and middlemen from making a profit from cut price seat auctions than with any alleged security precautions. No Passport is required to fly to the Irish Republic from the United Kingdom.
"Woman in the Audience:
I'm for them, but how do you square it up with your
left wing back ground ?
Oh, you're for them ! [surprised] You're for them. I don't think it's a question of being left wing , or not left wing, it's a question of being common sense, about the way in which we should operate, in the modern world, that's what I think.
The man sitting down here in the front row:
Man in front row:
Errm, I'm not too worried about ID Cards, let's put it this way, but I want to know how would you feel, to be holded [sic] indefinately, by Police, with no evidence, not allowed to see the Code of Practice, how would you feel, being hold [sic], not even being allowed to see a solicitor or anyone.
I wouldn't like that, and that's why the circumstances in which thathappens, which are very, very confined and restricted, have to be extremely carefully controlled, and constantly held accountable, and judged, and if things are being got wrong, then we ought to stop them.
The man, second in from the front row
Man from the Audience:
I think that when Parliament looks in at the anti-terrorism measures, they must cast their mind back, to all the abuses of their power, by the police in the past, they've got to look at, ermm the, [nervous pause] they've got to look at the, errm,
Is it sort of balance here
The balance [indistinct]
I agree with you
Man from the Audience:
They've got to look at the balance, they've got to look at the mistakes which were made in Northern Ireland, the Diplock Courts, the issues involving the use of Confessions, and , err, what a former legal officer in a previous adminstration said, about the presumption in favour, about the predisposition in favour of the prosecution, so [indistinct]
I think all of these points are absolutely crucial, that's why we constantly
That's it and we'll bring in
try to get them right
Ah and next door to you, the woman sitting by herself [? indistinct]
Woman from the Audience:
I, I was going to say that, we, umm, have Driving Licences already, we have Passports already, so that we use those as identification all the time. What is the need for Yet Another ID Card, which is also in the fullness of time, going to be able to be forged, nothing is completely a hundred per cent unforgeable, errmm terrorists, criminals will find a way to get around the system, if they want to produce fake ID Cards, err, for their purposes. How is this, errm, having further medical information on us perhaps, having other Personal Data, where, errm, I take my, errm, my private circumstances, I want to keep those, those are my own property,
I respect that
Woman from the Audience:
not that of the the Government
I think that this particular ID Card, it'll, you know, your Iris will be photographed, your Fingerprints will be taken, It Will Not Be Possible To Steal Your Identity,
"Woman from the Audience:
[indistinct] clone [indistinct]
it, it is Just Not Possible, well [shrugs, laughs]
Well I think it would be very difficult to clone 60 million people , wouldn't it ? The population of Britain."
Here we go again, another repetition of the mantra by a Government Minister, making statements about Biometric Technology, which not even the keenest salemen with a direct financial interest in promoting the technology, would dare to utter for fear of ridicule.
Biometric Identifiers are not unique. They are only digital photos or scans of your face, your iris, your fingerprints etc., not the real thing. Digital photos can be trivially copied and edited. Your "biometric identifiers" can be copied from you by hidden cameras or from latent fingerprints that you leave, without you being aware of the fact.
The use of Biometrics does not make it impossible to "steal your identity". You could have your "identity" stolen by someeone who registers his or her biometrics, with your personal details, before you get the opportunity to register in the queue of 60 million people waiting to be registered.
Remotely grabbed Biometric Identifiers can be used to conduct Replay Attacks using your credentials, when, not if, various bits of the reader infrastructure and networks are compromised by corrupt insiders , computer viruses etc.