The National Identity Scheme Commissioner is currently the quangocrat Sir Joseph Pilling, with a five or six figure salary, five staff, an office on Millbank, within easy waddling distance of the Home Office and Whitehall and a budget of over half a million pounds a year but with no powers to investigate individual complaints from the public or to punish abuses by bureaucrats or politicians or their sub-contractors
and also the NO2ID discussion forum:
See this FOIA request: Recruitment process for Identity Commissioner
The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) spent £42,077.24 on recruitment consultants and £8,826.35 on advertising for this post. The job was publicly advertised in the Sunday Times on 18 January 2009, as well as via the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website and the Odgers Ray and Berndtson website. 20 people applied for the post, and six of them were interviewed - after which Sir Joseph, who had not applied and was not interviewed, was 'phoned up out of the blue, at home, by his former bosses at the Home Office and offered the job.
Sir Joseph Pilling
Office of the Identity Commissioner
1st floor, 30 Millbank
c/o Millbank Tower
N.B. using a UK Government .gsi.gov.uk email address means that any email correspondence to the Identity Commissioner e.g. a "leak" or a complaint from a Home Office or Identity and Passport Service whistleblower or a complainant, could be tracked and intercepted, without any need for any RIPA authorisations at all.
The Identity Commissioner should publish a PGP Public Encryption Key, to help establish a secure channel for whistleblower leaks and complaints, which the Home Office should not be tempted to try to snoop on. This would also demonstrate to the public that the Identity Commissioner understands some basic data security, privacy and personal anonymity issues, which are relevant to the National Identity Scheme.
Website: http://www.identitycommissioner.org (why is this not a .UK registered domain name ?)
See the cross party NO2ID Campaign for powerful opposition and analysis of this wretched scheme.
Some highlights from this "Annual" report, which only covers the last 3 months of 2009:
3.4. The sponsorship team in IPS was also responsible for securing information technology services and telephony to my office. This functions adequately and ensures my independence while allowing me access to the IPS technological infrastructure support.
This rather implies that the Home Office / Identity and Passport Service have access to all of the Communications Traffic Data, and to copies of the Contents all the emails to and from this account.
Using a UK Government .gsi.gov.uk email address means that any email correspondence e.g. a "leak" or complaint from a Home Office or Identity and Passport Service whistleblower will be tracked and intercepted, without any need for any RIPA authorisations at all, because it is "their" email system, not the "independent" Identity Commissioner's.
The Identity Commissioner should publish a PGP Public Encryption Key, to help establish a secure channel for whistleblower leaks and complaints, which the Home Office should not be tempted to try to snoop on. This would also demonstrate to the public that the Identity Commissioner understands some of the basic data security, privacy and personal anonymity issues, which are relevant to the National Identity Scheme.
3.5. I launched a simple website at www.identitycommissioner.org.uk in October. This site will be developed further as a portal for public contact with my office.
Good !- at least there are some Contact Details and a copy of the Annual Report on the world wide web.
4.14. I have sought the views of those outside government including prominent lobby groups. There are a number of organisations who are opposed to the National Identity Service. I want to listen to their position, making clear that it is not my responsibility to take a view on the policy of issuing identity cards, but rather to ensure that the policies and processes fit with Parliament's requirements to deliver the service as set out in the Identity Cards Act, including being satisfied that adequate complaints handling procedures are in place.
4.17. I would have welcomed a chance to meet and listen to NO2ID and have written to them twice to ask them to meet me. They replied to my first letter by saying that they would be willing to speak with me if there were any prospect that our meeting could lead to a restriction or abandonment of the identity card scheme. I await a response to my second letter.
What exactly is there to discuss between NO2ID and Sir Joseph Pilling ? He does not seem to be willing to question the need for the particular, deeply flawed, National Identity Scheme which he is involved in.
6.8. I am keen to understand the system for audit data and how data usage is measured and monitored. I want to understand whether IPS will be providing public reports on the number of requests for data sharing made of the National Identity Register without the consent of individuals both in relation to single records and to multiple record data sets.
The fact that anyone still has to ask such fundamental questions, after 8 years of Home Office dithering and secrecy, is itself, a damning indictment of this National Identity Scheme.
Has Pilling been granted access to all past and current OGC Gateway Reviews of the project - or are these being kept secret from him for "commercial" reasons ?
The Costs for this Office of the Identity Commissioner are particularly galling, given the
Fig.1 - Office of the Identity Commissioner - Available resource FY 2009-10
Cost Available Resource £000s One-off setup costs* 142 Office rent 54 Staff 200 Professional advice and legal services 105 Meetings, travel and subsistence and other costs 64 TOTAL 565
*One-off setup costs include refit of office space, the setup of IT systems and staff recruitment processes.
** Contingent sum
This is not a lot of public money compared with what the Home Office is spending annually on "Consultants" etc. for the National identity Scheme, but it is vastly more money than the groups and campaigns who oppose this scheme have available to spend.