The Identity Card Bill looks set to be revealed today. It is unlikely to be revealed before Home Secretary David Blunkett's Home Affairs debate on the Queen's Speech this afternoon, media coverage of which will no doubt concentrate on any questions asked about the media allegations about David Blunkett's private life.
However, the Minister of State for Immigration, Des Browne, has started the media spin and is he is still spinning the line about £1.3 billion "identity fraud"
BBC News 24, 7:20 am 29th November 2004:
There is a need, for some form of secure gold standard identification, that people can use, for the important transactions in their life, and if it also enhances security, if it allows us to secure our borders better, and if it also allows us to interdict the sort of behavior which has led to the loss of £1.3 billion a year in identity fraud, then that is all to the good too."
Do Labour Ministers really believe this soundbite rubbish ?
If "identity fraud" is so really such a widespread problem, why doesn't the Home Office bother to collect official Home Office or Police or British Crime Survey statistics on "identity fraud" ?
The magic figure of £1.3 billion comes from statistically worthless "finger in the air" guesstimatescompiled in the annex of a Cabinet Office report, "Identity Fraud: A Study" (.pdf).
There has been no actual quantitative research into the subject since the report was published in 2002 to see if the existing measures such as the alleged improvements in passport security (the justification for increasing the price of a Passport) has made the situation better or worse.
Remember that "identity fraud" is not the same as "Customer Not Present" mail order or credit card fraud. A Biometric ID Card is of no use in preventing online credit card fraud or e-banking "phishing" attacks, and is incompatible with the credit card industry's standard "Chip and PIN" approach.