Wednesday, 1 July 2009

NO2ID - barely a U-turn...

Alan Johnson announced that the ID Card scheme would not be compulsory, while repackaging it as a government scheme "Safeguarding Identity". At least this is not as bad as the April Fools story about RFID tags from Computer Weekly.

What does this actually mean?

Well, the government is still trying to produce a universal database on everyone in the UK. The data will mainly be captured when people (re-)apply for a passport.

Isabella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said:
“The Home Secretary needs to be clear as to whether entry onto the National Identity Register will continue to be automatic when applying for a passport. If so, the identity scheme will be compulsory in practice. However you spin it, big ears, four legs and a long trunk still make an elephant. And this white elephant would be as costly to privacy and race equality as to our purses.”
The clear fact is that we cannot trust the government with our personal data. There really is no need for this centralised system - the reasons that the establishment is pushing for its continuation are both philosophical and pragmatic...
  • Philosophy - the government has a grand, science-fiction type view of Transformational Government. In simple terms this is the ultimate extension of the 'nanny state'. They simply don't believe in individual freedom, they think they know best.
  • Pragmatic - those involved in the deployment of the ID Card scheme hope they can keep their jobs under a modified programme. Why they should want to give contracts for IT projects to the usual (incompetent) companies I would leave as a thought experiment for the reader.
Now is the time to apply pressure to your MP (particularly if you have a Labour MP) to cancel the database as well as the cards. Ask them to vote against the new statutory instruments that would allow the ID scheme to begin.

It is easy to contact your MP via http://www.writetothem.com/

Those key regulations are:

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Application and Issue of ID Card and Notification of Changes) Regulations 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111480427_en_1
[The detail that you will have to give to the Home Office about yourself, much much more than the "basic identifying information" ministers keep referring to.]

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Prescribed Information) Regulations 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111480434_en_1
[What will be kept on the cards - but not yet anything about the national identity register database and how it might work.]

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Designation) Order 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111479056_en_1
[The first of potentially many such. Provides for some people to be forced onto the system because joining will be a condition of applying for another official document that they need.]

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Fees) Regulations 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111479070_en_1

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Information and Code of Practice on Penalties) Order 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111479087_en_1
[The unfair rules that will be used to punish non-compliance.]

The Identity Cards Act 2006 (Provision of Information without Consent) Regulations 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/draft/ukdsi_9780111479063_en_1
[Sets out who the information may be passed to once the IPS has it. Audit trail information will go to: police, intelligence services, and SOCA, *and to anyone else they authorise* - so we are immediately beyond government promise - plus HMRC, who can't however authorise it to be given to third parties. Further, non-audit trail information - such as document numbers, names and addresses, signatures and fingerprints, quite enough to be keys for other searches or massive identity fraud - may be provided to the Home Office and MoJ, DWP, DoT and FCO. Records of what information has been given to whom and why may be destroyed after 12 months or less.]

The Immigration (Biometric Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2009
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2009/uksi_20090819_en_1
[Expands the 'ID cards for foreigners' system vastly by extending it to more categories of people (for example, spouses of British citizens, visiting artists and academics) who are only being treated as a threat in order to justify ID cards for all.]

This list is taken from the NO2ID Newsletter.

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