The Home Office Minister in the House of Lords, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, made a promise during the Second Reading of the Identity Cards Bill in the House of Lords yesterday.
She claimed that the Police etc. would only have access to the National Identity Register audit trail, for the purpose of investigating serious crime, even though the Bill currently would apply to all petty crimes as well.
Taken at face value, her words would also preclude the use of the NIR audit trail log files for intelligence gathering purposes rather than the investigation of specific serious crime.
Such a restriction on the the secret intelligence and security services and the tax gathering authorities would be
remarkable astonishing, if it proves to actually be true.
What further restrictions on the access of an individual to their own NIR audit trail logs does this imply ?
Will there be a Government backed Amendment to make good this promise ?
On the question of the audit log, the provision of the audit and information to the police will be possible only in relation to serious crime. It will not be generally available if the issues are not serious. Not all crime, as the noble Lord suggested, will be affected. We recognise that information should be subject to a higher level of protection.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, will the noble Baroness not concede that the Bill simply refers to crime?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, it refers to crime, which is why Committee will be important. We have made it plain in the other place, and I make it
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plain now, that we are using the test of serious crime. We recognise that there is a line to be drawn, and that we can seek to make it even clearer.
Currently the Identity Cards Bill does not even propose the level of safeguards against spurious requests by inexperienced or malicious police officers etc. that the Single Point of Contact regimes which operate under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 legislation, for access to Communications Traffic Data, which is very similar to what the NIR audit trail logfiles will include.