About the ID Scheme

Let's get this straight — it isn't just about identity cards. The government's identity scheme includes a huge database to keep tabs on everyone, a massive infrastructure to collect peoples' details, and a giant network of technology required to verify people against their cards and both of these against the database.

The card is just the tip of the iceberg.

The proposed National Identity Management System has multiple layers: The National Identity Register (NIR); individual checking and numbering of the population; making personal details into "registrable facts" to be disclosed and constantly updated; collection and checking of biometrics (e.g. fingerprints); the card itself (and other documents made equivalent to an ID card); a widespread scanner and computer terminal network connected to the central database; widespread use of compulsory identity "verification"; and data-sharing between organisations on an unprecedented scale.

We also brief MPs and peers of all parties on the details of the ID scheme and related legislation, which you will find linked below (all in PDF format).

Briefings on Identity Cards Bill in parliament, May 2005 — February 2006

Briefing for new MPs, May 2005
Detailed analysis of the reintroduced Bill, sent to MPs new to Parliament after the election. Refers to clauses within the Bill that went forward to Committee in July 2005. Subsequently, the bill has been amended.
House of Lords briefing October 2005
Supplementary briefing sent, in conjunction with our short paper outlining key concerns with the government's ID proposals, to all Peers in time for the second Second Reading on October 31st 2005.
Commons briefing October 2005
Summary briefing sent to all MPs in time for Report and Third Reading of the Identity Cards Bill on 18th October 2005, highlighting five key areas of concern. Separate briefings on individual amendments had also been provided throughout Committee Stage.
House of Lords briefing January 2006
Critical analysis of amendments arising from Committee Stage in the Lords, focussing mainly on those to do with Compulsion, Security and the Scope of Powers. Individual briefings had again been given during Committee Stage.
Commons briefing February 2006
Summary briefing on key amendments, fundamental questions remaining and public opinion — including a graph showing the drop in support and growing public opposition to ID cards, collated from all the major independent polls from 2004 to present. Sent to target MPs in time for vote.

Briefings on other Bills

Briefing on Serious Crime Bill for Lords Second Reading, February 2007
Summary briefing, focussed on the broad data-sharing and data-mining/matching aspects of the Bill. This is clearly an ID scheme-enabling Bill, which includes such horrors as the effective abolition of data protection in respect of certain 'official uses' of data.
Briefing on UK Borders Bill for Commons Second Reading, February 2007
Summary briefing on what is quite evidently another ID scheme and data-sharing Bill. Specific concerns include: weakened rule of law and increased official discretion; damage to privacy and confidentiality; economic and reputational damage to the UK; and the deliberate hiding of ID scheme costs in other departments' budgets.
Briefing on Draft (Partial) Immigration and Citizenship Bill for JCHR, October 2008
Submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on a partial Bill that leaves out clauses on data-sharing and biometrics, but which is drafted so broadly as to affect ALL residents of the UK, including British citizens. Specific concerns include: effective compulsion to carry official ID (ID card or passport); compulsory reporting of all hotel registrations; requirement to provide official ID in order to gain employment.
Briefing on Coroners and Justice Bill for Commons Second Reading, January 2009
Summary briefing on data sharing clauses in a Bill ostensibly about reform of the inquest system. Of overriding concern is the creation of a fast-track regulatory procedure to sweep away data protection, human-rights considerations, confidentiality, legal privilege, and ultra vires when they would stand in the way of any use, acquisition or dissemination of information in pursuit of departmental policy.
Briefing on Identity Documents Bill for Commons Second Reading, June 2010
Summary briefing on the Bill intended to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006. The Bill as originally drafted actually broadens some of the already over-broad offences created by the 2006 Act and reintroduces some of the deeply flawed official conceptions of 'identity' inherent in the National Identity Scheme. The Bill does nothing to address 'ID cards for foreign nationals' — actually Biometric Residence permits — which are issued under the UK Borders Act 2007.

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