The weekend media coverage of the Government's controversial ID Card / Database scheme seems to have touched a raw nerve within the NuLabour propaganda machine, especially the slightly inaccurate report in the Independent on Sunday about the "selling of ID card information"
Tony McNulty, the Immigration Minster is quoted by the BBC as saying:
"Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said banks would be able to verify card details against a database - for a fee.
But he said any claim the information would be sold was "without foundation"."
Which part of "a private sector company paying fee money for information held on a Government run database" does not count as "selling information" in NuLabour doublethink ?
"Mr McNulty said a verification process would take place, but denied private firms would be allowed to "go fishing" for information.
"Verifying facts about an individual's identity is entirely the purpose of the database."
"The bank will not get access to the database. No-one will be allowed to go fishing in the database just looking for information"
There are no criminal sanctions in the Identity Cards Bill to prevent this sort of database "fishing" or "trawling" either by "authorised private sector partners" or by authorised Government departments and agencies, all of which will have lawful authorised access.
Inevitably, instead of giving a proper statement to the House of Commons, or fully answering any of the recent flurry of Parliamentary Questions from MPs, the Home Secretary Charles Clarke writes a letter to a major daily newspaper, this time The Guardian, published the day before the Second Reading "debate" on the "almost the same as before" Identity Cards Bill.
His previous letter to The Times just before the debate on the previous version of the Identity Cards Bill was almost verbatim, an advanced copy of his speech given later on the floor of th eHouse of Commons.
Buzzword Bingo prizes to those who spot the same phrases Charles Clarke uses in this letter as will as in his Second Reading speech tomorrow.
Truth about ID cards
Monday June 27, 2005
Tony Benn (In the name of security, June 22) says the government is introducing the ID card scheme "motivated by a determination ... to set up a massive database" that "incorporates everything that is known about us all". This is untrue. The national identity register will hold very limited information about individuals' identity, such as your name, address, gender, nationality and date of birth.
Over 50 different fields of data including all previous names, all previous addresses, both in the UK and abroad, and previous genders (for the minority of transgendered people), this is far in excess of that which other countries ID cards systems require.
The aim is not to build a massive database about individuals, but to link a person's biometrics, who they are, to their true identity. It will therefore make it much easier for everyone to prove who they are and make it much more difficult for people to steal others' identities.
Second, he says the database will "integrate our personal particulars with police and security service files". The register will only hold information about a person's identity and will not in any way be integrated with existing files held by other organisations. It will not, for instance, hold any tax or financial information, nor will it hold medical or criminal records.
There will be a lifelong audit trail of each and every time the ID Card is verfied against the central database, recording the time, date and the location / organisation doing the verification.
This will betray, by inference, a pattern of activities such as potential medical details e.g. if you have to use your ID card to register with a specialist medical clinic, then thousands of bureacrats will have be able to infer that you are pregnant, or have AIDs or cancer etc. even though, technically, your detailed medical records will not be on this system.
The excessive requirement to register all current and all previous addresses, both in the UK and overseas, will, by inference, betray criminal records of those who spend time in prison, for whatever reason, enough to stigmatise people, but not enough to explain any extenuating circumstances or even the fact that people have been held on remand and then found not guilty in court.
Similarly any time spent in a mental hospital will also be logged in the audit trail, aghain , enough detail to stigmatise and discriminate against people, without enough detail to explain extenuating circumstances.
In addition, just as with other personal records, data-protection law means that individuals will have access to the information held.
The Identity Cards Bill attempts to curtail this right to see the full audit trail of who is accessing their National Identity Register record and why.
Third, he says the information on the database will "automatically be available" to the US. Again not true. The identity cards bill has strict provisions allowing information from the register to be provided without an individual's consent, for example to the police or security services to help with their investigations. But there will be no open access to the register and there is certainly no agreement that any other country will be given access to the information held.
Charles Clarke MP
Weasel Words Alert ! Schengen Information Systems II ? E-Borders ? Sharing of Passenger Name Records and Advanced Passenger Information lists ? G8 counter-terrorism agreements ? G8 anti-money laundering agreements ? EU wide counter terrorism agreements ? EU anti-money laundering agreements ? Europol ? Interpol ?
It is true that foreign governments are not specifically mentioned as being allowed to have access to the NIR directly, but the police and secirity services, the tax authorities and the Home Office are. There is nothing to stop them from handing over individual records, or the entire database in chunks or in one go over to their foreign counterparts for "national security" or for "the prevention and detection of crime" etc.
None of these international agreements or treaties to share innocent citizens personal information without their express permission, are currently offically signed and ratified by the UK Government, but there seems to be a clear intention that they soon will be, certainly before any ID card scheme is fully operational.
Will any Opposition MPs bother to probe the Home Secretary on this point in tomorrow's debate ?