The Home Office has published the Commercial Directory of about 160 companies who have expressed some interest in parts of the Identity Cards Programme, via the Market Sounding exercise.
The 1Mb .pdf Company Profile Directory seems to contain all the "usual suspects" amongst the 160 or so entries, although there could well be others who have chosen to remain in the background, but who are represented by strategic business alliance partners or subsidiaries.
All the directors and shareholders and employees of these companies should really read our criticisims of former Clause 31, Tampering with the Register etc., which has now been re-numbered as Clause 29.
We feel that they will be risking 10 years in prison and / or unlimited fines, for factors outside of their direct control. These risks cannot be mitigated either financially by raising the price, or through exclusion clauses in contracts or licence agreements, as the sanctions are criminal ones.
Which of these compnaies can guarantee that nothing they do in the future will not, be construed as being "reckless as to whether or not", through an overt act or through an omission, anywhere in world, whether they are British citizens or not, take an action
where it makes it more difficult or impossible for such information to be retrieved in a legible form from a computer on which it is stored by the Secretary of State, or contributes to making that more difficult or impossible."
That includesiindustrial action, strikes or work to rule by key personnel, software and hardware errors or mistakes.
It also precludes the use of encrypted tunnels, wrappers or sessions over which the Home Office has no direct control of the the cryptographic keys e.g. Virtual Private Networks, Mobile Phone networks, SSL/TLS secure web pages etc. due to wording like "any" and "lmore difficult or impossible" and "legible".
This is undoubtedly an unintentional consequence of the stupid wording of the Identity Cards Bill, but this Clause has been unamended and virtually undebated throughout tall the stages of the cureent and previous Identity Cards Bills. It does not matter what, if any verbakl promises are made by Ministers, it is the exact wording as it now stands which is what a Court of Law must interpret, and there is no leeway in this "catch all" wording so typical of the Home Office.
Remember that not all of these companies are evil. Some are the acknowledged experts in their fields, but some are very obscure or unknown. There is no guarantee that any of them will be directly awarded any contracts, if they are foolish enough to risk their reputions and their liberty and bid for them.
They may end up doing consultancy or subcontract work for the major public sector IT systems integrators, or for the experts at extracting more public money from a Government IT scheme once it is underway and they have the inexperienced Civil Servants over a barrel.
Remember that the official tendering and procurement process cannot start until the Identity Cards Bil 2005 is passed into law.
Perhaps someone may care to analyse the proportion of non-British companies which these 190 companies represent.
It will also be interesting to observe any lobbying and NuLabour party donations or "sleaze" etc. involving any of these companies:
- Which of them might have investment plans in marginal constituencies ?
- Which of them might have investment plans in the constituiencies of Home Office Ministers ?
- Which of these companies contributes to the funding of All Party Groups of MPs etc. ?
Have any of them been foolish enough to rustle wads of cash within earshot of David Blunkett etc. ?