Here's a selection of our previous front page articles:
The propaganda push for the 2011 census has begun. NO2ID opposes
this census because it represents the worst features of database
state, the insatiable desire for ever more information, and the
presumption that official purposes override privacy.
Here are the ten worst lies you will be told in the coming weeks:
On the contrary, it is worse than useless because it is expensive, inaccurate, and quickly out of date.
Even were this true, should we care? Most countries do have some sort of census, but would being respected at doing something essentially useless be worth more than ¬£300millions.
100 or 200 years ago there was little record of most people's lives, and old censuses may be the only documents available. It is ludicrous to assume the same will apply in 100 years time, and outrageous to suggest it justifies spending public money.
Temporary ones, Yet the money spent would otherwise be spent on something — probably something useful involving permanent jobs.
Not any more. Census forms are kept from the public for 100 years. But EU legislation allows the 2011 census to be shared with all 27 member states, and the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 created powers to share the information with public bodies, and "approved researchers".
No one knows how many people lie in their return. The 2001 census is generally believed to have 'missed' around 900,000 men under 40.
There is no reason to be proud of being tallied like cattle. There
is every reason to oppose the waste and the intrusion. There is a long
history of public resentment of the census.
In the 1800s census officers had to be given police protection; in 1911 the suffragettes boycotted it in protest; and in the 50s TV publicity told people it wasn't "another bit of snooping"
Whether a group is "officially recognised" is a political decision, not the same as individuals being located and categorised. 390,127 people recorded their religion as Jedi in 2001; they have yet to be officially recognised. More seriously, the Board of Deputies says the census underestimates British Jews, precisely because some of that community are nervous of officials knowing where they live.
New questions are more intrusive than ever before, requiring details of employer's addresses, the details of any visitors to your house, and where they usually live. This is a direct danger to people who have sensitive occupations. The online version is a perfect cover for phishing attacks.
Security is only as good as the shortest route to breaking it.
Thousands of people will be involved, large commercial contractors and
government agencies will process it, and the law newly provides that
the data may be accessed for a variety of reasons, not just for making
a statistical summary.
It cannot be guaranteed there won't be a security breach, or that data once captured will be used legitimately.
They cannot protect it; they shouldn't collect it.
|Retiring: Phil Booth||Replacement: Guy Herbert|
After 6 years as National Coordinator of NO2ID, its chief executive, Phil Booth
has resigned for personal reasons. The NO2ID Advisory Board met on Monday,
31st January and appointed Guy Herbert, who has been volunteering for the
campaign since 2004, as his successor.
Guy Herbert says:
No one should underestimate the debt the whole country owes to Phil Booth. His incredible energy and hard work has been one of the key factors in making NO2ID the fastest growing and most successful pressure group in modern British history, and allowing us to kill the Home Office's ID scheme. Our task now is to use that invaluable legacy and experience, and take the fight to the surveillance state.
Everybody needs privacy, but not everybody realises how much they do — or how much it is threatened. NO2ID will now focus on those government initiatives that affect very large numbers of people, and that illustrate the key point about the stalker-state's unnecessary obsession with knowing its citizens intimately: the ID culture, vetting in everyday life, databases tracking drivers and air passengers, and the continuing battles for medical privacy. The first item on the menu is the most obtrusive and pervasive piece of official nosiness of all — which the present government actually admits is unnecessary, but is doing anyway — census."
In 2006 NO2ID began campaigning on medical confidentiality, alongside the NHS Confidentiality campaign. The main target up to now has been the Summary Care Record (SCR).
An early success was securing patients the right to opt out. But Connecting for Health - the agency responsible for upgrading NHS IT - has been pouring money into a system that researchers at UCL have shown brings little (if any) benefit, and in which 10% of records already risk patient safety.
It has been remorseless and tricky in driving onward its dangerous flagship programme:
The Tories and LibDems both promised in opposition to tackle the SCR. The Coalition agreement promises to put patients "[in] control of their health records". So what has happened?
And when the GP's Committee of the British Medical Association called for uploads to stop and for access to the system to be switched off... ministers did nothing. GPs are being forced to work the system individually to keep privacy for their patients.
Over 2 million people's details are exposed NOW on a system that threatens their privacy, and, for some, their health. It won't end here.
After six hard years of campaigning, we can celebrate a little. The new government in its coalition agreement has adopted some of NO2ID's most important aims as its own. It promises that it will:
That is a good start. Setting a government's agenda could not have been achieved without the thousands of people who have each fought to change the hearts and minds of their friends, family and colleagues, local and national media, politicians, parties and government; the many who have given generously in money to allow us to run an office, send mailings, and produce briefings and leaflets; and our dedicated volunteers and staff.
However we cannot afford to be complacent: NO2ID's work is far from done.
The database state is already too much assumed as an administrative goal for it to be killed by the loss of the ID scheme. Even during the election, despite the skepticism of parties now in government, 'Connecting for Health' was pushing forward with its plan to control all medical records in England.
Whitehall will not give up these empires without a fight. And the agendas that have been prepared for years may be expected to reappear under new names. The official obsession with identity and information-sharing remains, as does the idea that "personal information is the lifeblood of government".
Holding the new government to its promise is the first thing. Rolling back the database state will involve more battles. But we have proved that - working together - the war CAN be won.
'Stop the database state' means continuing to tackle existing threats to privacy, but it also means changing the culture of showing "ID" at every turn, embedding proper protections in law, in institutions and technology, and achieving real control for you over your personal information. Please help us do that.
By midday on 7th May 2010, as we write this, who will form the next government of the UK is unclear, but the popular mandate on ID cards is unanswerable. Of 622 seats declared, 370 have MPs who stood on a manifesto commitment to scrap the ID scheme. The popular vote is even more decisive: those parties opposed to the scheme took 19.1 million votes in those seats where we know the results. †That is 70% of the poll. [source: BBC]
All that is without counting those on the Labour benches whom we know to be skeptical of or outright opposed to the assault on liberty and privacy presented by the National Identity Register.
This Parliament has been elected with a mandate to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006. Implicit in that is a promise not to let any alternative scheme grow up. MPs must also block any Home Office attempt to use 'passport modernisation' to create a de facto national database.
Whatever you voted, please help NO2ID ensure that this mandate is respected.
UPDATE, 8th MAY 2010: With just one seat left to declare, 384 constituencies across the UK are now represented by MPs who stood on a manifesto commitment to scrap ID cards. Parties opposed to the ID scheme took almost 20.7 million votes, or 69.7% of the poll. [source: BBC]
As of 26th April, opposition parties' 2010 manifesto commitments on the National Identity Scheme stand as follows:
From 2012 under a Labour administration, everyone needing a passport will be forced to enrol on a centralised ID database and be fingerprinted - and have to pay for the privilege of having their identity 'managed' by the state for the rest of their life. Labour's manifesto pledge that "in the next Parliament ID cards and the ID scheme will be self-financing" is nonsense. The billions the scheme will cost have to come from somewhere, and it is the public who will pay.
Dr Edgar A. Whitley and Dr Gus Hosein from the LSE Identity Project have published a very helpful analysis, clarifying the main issues and where the main parties stand on them here:
The general election will be over in a month. But the struggle over ID cards has already lasted more than one parliament. The database state has built up huge momentum. Stopping it will require MPs of all parties to pay attention now — and take action for the long-term.
The opposition parties have promised to scrap the ID scheme and ContactPoint, and to review other databases. But Whitehall won't want to lose its empires whoever is elected. Whoever is elected needs to know how much it matters, and have the determination to follow-through.
Please contact your candidates and party canvassers. What will they do about…?
Mass surveillance, whether of road journeys (ANPR), overseas travel (e-Borders), in communications (data retention) or through any of the many national databases is profoundly different from the selective surveillance for a purpose that has always been part of law enforcement. It means the death of privacy. It means a future official looking over your shoulder while you live your life now.
When you talk to candidates, please be sure they know that you care — and that they should care too. We cannot take privacy or personal control of personal information for granted. Unless MPs fight for them in the next parliament, our way of life could change forever.
Despite talk of cuts, u-turns and cancellations, Whitehall is actually speeding up the database state. If you hear this or that scheme has been dropped, then take a closer look. It almost certainly hasn't. There are cosmetic changes but the schemes just keep moving forward.
Scheme after scheme reinforces the message of the database state: "You cannot be trusted; you may not trust others. You MUST trust the state".
If you want the choice of who to trust, join NO2ID.
Gordon Brown's announcement to Labour Conference that "in the next Parliament there will be no compulsory ID cards for British citizens" is the same misleading line that ministers have been using for years — whatever he says about the card, the ID scheme has been designed to force people to 'volunteer' for a system they cannot leave. For all his crowd-pleasing words, you will still be forced to register when you apply for a passport or, in time, any officially-designated document.
Mr Brown's statement, "We will reduce the information British citizens have to give for the new biometric passport to no more than that required for today's passport" cannot be true even if taken literally, since biometric passports must have at least the biometrics (i.e. compulsory fingerprinting) in addition to the information already on existing ones.
The Identity and Passport Service programme to build linked databases – the National Identity Register – that will be shared between the passport and identity schemes, and integrated with the DWP's systems has not been scrapped. And a raft of regulations defining the information to be held and the masses more information involved in the application process were passed earlier this summer. If what Mr Brown says were true, these would be repealed forthwith.
The ID scheme and database state steamroller on, and we cannot afford to let up the pressure.
If you want proof, all you need do is pay attention to Manchester. IPS has not withdrawn its propaganda campaign and is still looking for guinea-pigs. NO2ID's first Stop the ID Card Con campaign events are on 10th October, and it's more important than ever that we counter the government's spin. Please help us spread the word on the streets of the North West and across the country.
The ID scheme is not dead.
Only 8 months to go before a new government might want to cancel the ID scheme, and the Home Office has turned to desperate measures to convince everyone that it is inevitable…. Or maybe it is just trying to buy so many bits of the database that the next Home Secretary can be bamboozled into keeping some of them.
A few thousand people have "registered an interest" in an ID card on the government's website. It is hard to believe many of them will actually apply when they discover how burdensome it is.
But never mind that cards will be vanishingly rare items until the Identity and Passport Service has figured out how to force people to apply, the IPS has embarked on a vast propaganda exercise aimed at employers and retailers. In push-polls and private seminars there are hints that they might find ID cards useful in managing their employees — which would be illegal. Expensive PR and advertising campaigns aimed at shops and pubs suggest that they are about to replace cheap, simple, privacy-friendly proof of age schemes such as CitizenCard — which is just ridiculous.
Meanwhile, on a parallel track, another Home Office agency, the UK Borders Agency, is triumphantly introducing fingerprinting in Post Offices for its closely-related biometric visa system. (They are supposed to share the same database.) We hope the public finds this as repulsive an idea as we do. It will certainly lengthen the queues.
So ID cards are back in the news. But just in case anyone in the IPS's 'beacon' city of Manchester hasn't heard anything about the scheme but the slippery propaganda from the government, NO2ID is focussing there too. Our Stop the ID Card Con campaign will run on the streets of the North West from October 2009, urging people "Don't be a Guinea Pig".
Please give it your support, and help see off this wasteful and oppressive Whitehall obsession once and for all.
Alan Johnson's recent announcement that ID cards will be 'voluntary' is not in fact any change of policy at all.
The good news is that the scheme is really getting ever further behind, with even the implementation of "ID cards for foreigners" slow if you compare official figures with the original targets. (Mr Johnson says it is on-schedule and to be speeded up.)
The bad news is that the legislation has not changed, nor has the intention. The plan is as it was. From some time in 2011 an application for a passport will mean you must also apply for registration on the National Identity Register — the ID database. You will be said to have 'volunteered'. Once on the Register you will be required to be fingerprinted at your own expense and report yourself to the authorities for life. The card is a red herring. It is the database that matters.
The good news is all opposition parties are now committed to abolishing the Register, if they gain power.
The bad news is that the Identity and Passport Service intends to build a Register anyway, pretending that the components are necessary for changes to passports. And regulations setting out the details of the scheme have been hustled through the House of Commons, despite only a handful of fanatics being prepared to speak in their favour. And the Register is still planned to form the centre-piece of a revolution in government according to the Safeguarding Identity (pdf) strategy.
The good news is that so far only 3,500 people in total have registered with the Home Office their interest in having an ID card. We intend to tell them the bad news about life-long compulsory registration, and see how many still want to complete their application.
And the final good news is that faced with a real conflict over the scheme airport workers and pilots threatening industrial action if they were forced onto the Register this autumn the Government has backed down. If they cannot avoid a fight they will lose it. IF we keep up the pressure, IF we hold the opposition to their promises, the ID scheme will collapse and be swept away.
NO2ID needs your help to do it, but this is a battle that can be won. Tell your friends, tell your family. Join us.
The Home Office is in a whirl of activity on the database state. But it isn't actually doing anything. If you look carefully you can see that it is scrambling to secure its position, covered by a lot of noise about "change".
On ID cards - the announcement of 'trials' in Manchester is less than it seems. There is not yet a scheme nor even a specification. Retail chains who might take fingerprints are "in talks" with government, but it would be commercial madness for them to buy equipment for an undersigned scheme that might be cancelled in a year. Those who pre-register for the scheme are only serving to provide a number that some future Home Office minister can claim shows "the public want ID cards". The razzamatazz around their 'opportunity' is neatly timed to distract attention from the latest cost reports. No real change. But no change of direction either.
On the collection of communications data - though headlines have been grabbed by "cancelling" a super-database containing details of all telephone calls, texts, emails and web-browsing, the collection and searching of the information is still intended. And the information will still be accessible to dozens of organisations without a warrant. No change.
On the DNA database in England and Wales, you will have read stories such as "Police to destroy DNA profiles of 800,000 innocent" (Guardian). Only they won't. Not immediately. Let alone comply with the spirit of the law, or match the actual law in Scotland. The Home Office is merely consulting on a proposal that, at some indefinite point in the future it might (a) massively add to the database by sampling all convicts however long ago their convictions, and (b) remove the DNA profiles of those who are not convicted between 6 and 12 years after they are arrested – the period depending on what they are innocent of. On that basis the database will continue to grow very fast for years to come. No change.
Rest assured NO2ID will continue to fight the database state. No change.
When she says the government won't be building a single super-database "because of privacy", Jacqui Smith is lying. She has never worried about your privacy before, and the actual policy remains the same. Not one step back in mass surveillance, but a surge forward.
Behind the carefully set-up headline there is a simple announcement: the government does intend more comprehensive monitoring than any police state in history — who you call, for how long, what you read online, who all your friends are, who you emailed, when, and where you were when you did so — all without a warrant.
David Blunkett is spinning too. The headlines say "Blunkett seeks 'end to ID cards'" but what he has actually called for is a re-packaging to fabricate public trust. He has done so before. Mr Blunkett still believes that you should be officially numbered, and your identity determined in a central register. The physical token you to carry is irrelevant.
Likewise the Identity and Passport Service. They have not given up. They have been busy restructuring the identity scheme so that core elements cannot be separated from passports. Mr Blunkett's plan and that of the current builders is remarkably similar. The machine is defending itself with all the cunning of well-paid executives protecting their managerial empires.
Making up a new public face for them does not change these projects or the culture behind them. That it can be tried just underlines the fraud at the heart of the database state.
Join NO2ID and fight for a real change.
Commissioned from the Foundation for Information Policy Research, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust's report, 'Database State' [879KB PDF], gives a vivid impression of the problem. It shows just how vast the database state has grown, in effect, while almost no-one was looking.
The report surveys 46 government schemes and databases, and identifies major threats to the privacy, personal security and freedom of everyone in the UK. It concludes that more than 8 out of 10 of the systems should either be scrapped completely or stopped and reconstructed with privacy in mind.
Even so it is not a completely comprehensive list. For some others see http://www.no2id.net/dbstate — and for more detail on the grand plans of 'joined-up government' see http://www.no2id.net/datasharing.
When we coined our slogan "stop the database state" back in 2004 it was because we needed to give a name to 'the tendency to try to control society by collecting information on people in databases'.
Five years on, the phrase is on everyone's lips.
The government has been forced to remove Clause 152 [148KB PDF] from the Coroners and Justice Bill. NO2ID had reports of some MPs receiving over 150 personal letters from constituents in just a few weeks. It became the most briefed-against part of a Bill that is rag-bag of controversial measures. This is a significant victory, not least because it shows how — working together — we can have an effect.
Thank you to everyone who acted, and everyone who told others.
But the war is not won. The government has not given up. It intends to build up the means for information trafficking by the database state, and is now preparing to manufacture the appearance of public consent via yet another "consultation" process.
There will be more battles, and ̬ as people everywhere start to wake up to the meaning of the database state — next time, with your help, we shall be stronger.
NO2ID has been one of the leading organisations in creating the Convention on Modern Liberty event.
Working with Amnesty International NI, the UN Association of Wales and other partners, NO2ID has organised live-linked satellite Conventions in Glasgow, Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Cambridge. We also provided the stewards at the central London event and organise or contribute to several sessions - including the database state panel.
NO2ID's call to action for the Convention on Modern Liberty - to the dozens of other organisations, over 150 speakers, more than 2500 convention-goers at eight locations around the UK, and thousands more watching via the web, is - Get involved!
NO2ID has been fighting against the database state since we started in 2004, when it was scarcely known or discussed. Our supporters and local groups across the UK inform and engage the public and the media, and keep the pressure up on elected representatives at every level of government. We are having an effect.
NO2ID's pledge *to you* from the Convention is that we will advise and assist any group of three or more people who want to set up a local group to bring the fight to people in their area.
You can find our existing local groups here - new volunteers are always very welcome. And please get in touch with Matty on email@example.com if you would like to set up a group in your area. We may be able to connect you with others who are interested, too.
NO2ID has been warning since at least 2006/7 about the stated intentions of government "to overcome current barriers to information sharing within the public sector". Now the Ministry of Justice has launched an extraordinary coup. It wants to convert the Data Protection Act into its exact opposite, into a means for any government department to obtain and use any information however it likes.
Hidden in the new Coroners and Justice Bill is one clause (cl.152) amending the Data Protection Act. It would allow ministers to make 'Information Sharing Orders', that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to use information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.
This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme. Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.
That is what we meant by "the database state". It is now a threat not a theory.
If you have any concerns about what the government is doing with your personal information - polls show that most people already do - then please tell your friends, family and colleagues about this.
To find out more, and what you can do to stop it, CLICK HERE..
At the end of November, the first of seven centres due to issue 'ID cards for foreign nationals' opened for business. NO2ID and others were there to protest, and also at other locations around the country [video]. We wrote a letter, signed by a broad range of figures in the public eye, to draw attention to what was going on. An edited version of it was published in the Telegraph, but you can read the full text and see who signed here.
Gratifyingly, the Telegraph leader article the following day picked up on our theme.
Thinking people are simply not fooled by the government's transparent attempts to scrape up populist support for its ailing ID scheme. Expect more Home Office PR and spin in coming weeks, as the first cards – actually biometric residence permits, issued under a completely different law than the Identity Cards Act 2006 - are issued.
We would like to thank local NO2ID groups across the UK who managed to get hundreds of others including university vice-chancellors, professors, councillors, MPs and other well-known people to sign a variant of our letter. Special mention must go to Cambridge, who not only got over 100 signatories but prompted a front page article in the Cambridge Evening News.
Proof positive that local action really does work.
After years of little more than hot air from a sequence of Home Secretaries, we're finally getting to see the fine detail [836KB PDF] of what "ID cards" will really mean to the average person. It may be quite a shock to those who haven't been paying attention.
It is not just the sheer amount of personal information that you will be required to surrender – a wake-up for any remaining who thought this was a simple card - it is the threats that will be used to force compliance. You could have £1000 penalties sent to you by e-mail* if IPS thinks you've been bad – and why might they think that?
If you fail to turn up at a time and place of their choosing; refuse to be fingerprinted, photographed or hand over documents (e.g. birth or marriage certificates); fail to tell them you've moved house for 3 months.
And anything that they reckon is "deliberate or reckless" provision of incorrect information could lead to 2 years in prison.
Welcome to a lifetime of state identity control...
* Only the first official warning need be by letter, and that'll give you just a fortnight to comply.
Thanks to everyone who sent in a picture of the database state for The Big Picture on Parliament Square. You'll find a report of the protest with more pictures on the Open Rights Group website. Click on the image to see a higher-resolution version of The Big Picture mosaic.
The mainstream media has finally begun to pick up on the appalling Communications Data Bill, which NO2ID has been warning people about since the summer, and before.
As usual, the government is misdirecting the argument. It says it won't be storing the content of your telephone or internet use, as if that makes it all right. It is proposing to record — for life — the details of everyone you call or write to and what websites you visit.
Monitoring your communications is more intrusive than searching your home. It should only ever be done under warrant, with good reason. The general convenience of the Home Office is a very bad reason indeed.
Do you want the state (and anyone who can gain access to the system) to have a record of your religious and political beliefs, your sexual interests and relationships, your financial and medical worries — "just in case" they ever become of interest to the authorities? Were an individual to spy on you like this, it would be called stalking. It is a crime.
You wouldn't tolerate someone creeping into your home at any time, night and day, to go through your and your family's private things. You shouldn't put up with this.
Write NOW to your MP, expressing your disgust at the British government moving to spying on its people continually, and ask what he or she intends to do about it. (N.B. Please write in your own words — it is much more effective.)
Resistance to the database state is growing, but that has not discouraged Whitehall. It seems more determined than ever to sneak round obstacles using misdirection and to find new, softer, targets.
The TUC has resolved to oppose the National Identity Scheme "with all means at its disposal". There is "deadlock" over plans to force airlines and airports to have their staff enrolled in the scheme. The Home Office has been exposed to near universal derision over its online marketing exercise aimed at students and young people, "mylifemyid.org".
That doesn't mean plans are halted though. New targets and new PR exercises can easily be found if you have unlimited funds at your disposal.
Meg Hillier, Labour Minister for Identity, has claimed — and as swiftly denied — that children as young as 14 may be given ID cards under government plans. There are powers buried in the Identity Cards Act that mean it could happen by regulation. And children, we know, are a soft target. There has still been surprisingly little outcry over the ContactPoint database of EVERY child (and family) in the UK.
Latest of those soft targets are overseas students, and people seeking to settle in the UK with British husbands and wives. Those, people with strong reasons not to make a fuss, are the ones to be targeted for the new biometric card scheme that will act as a test bed for the ID scheme. Jacqui Smith's launch of "ID cards for foreigners" was a shameless piece of spin to try to associate the unpopular ID scheme with the popular policy of restricting immigration.
There's no real link. And it is unclear how much technology there is yet. But immigration law already gives the Home Office some of the powers it would like to exert over everyone, and so it has a free hand to try out, on a few selected foreign residents, the processes it eventually intends to use for everyone else.
Parliament is on holiday. No doubt to the relief of the officials driving forward the database state. With the politicians out of the way, a cadre of Home Office and Cabinet Office cronies is free to extend the tentacles of Whitehall.
This August, long term plans to monitor your movements and communications have moved on significantly. Your travel information, your phone and text records, your e-mail and internet usage are set to be monitored. Your personal details trafficked ever more widely among officials and to foreign powers.
The Home Secretary has been hyping "biometrics" at Manchester airport - a trial of 'facial recognition'. But in reality it is just an excuse to get your passport electronically scanned. "e-Borders" is about collecting massive amounts of detailed information on every traveller's journey for official use. The spin is all about 'foreigners' but the system applies with even greater force to UK citizens.
The spectre of road-pricing through a 'spy in the sky' technology has also reappeared. Following everyone everywhere is the government's way of dealing with road problems.
And if you stay at home, you are to be watched there, too. Many people have been shocked to discover that Local Authorities have spy powers. But for years now hundreds of bodies have been able to authorise themselves to examine any of your phone, e-mail, text and web-browsing histories that have been held by phone and internet companies. Now there are determined efforts to make that easier. The Home Office is seeking to build a massive database of all communications data. Massive funding is already secretly committed.
What could be done with such powers? Who would you trust with them? Whatever the purpose, it is certain that the very private information involved will be lost or fall into untrustworthy hands.
NO2ID congratulates David Davis on winning the Haltemprice and Howden by-election. We hope his example will encourage MPs of all parties and the general public to take a closer look at the growth of the database state.
Friday 11th July 2008 saw the publication of yet another government review.
Perhaps it is no surprise that an enquiry led by Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner, and Dr Mark Walport, the Director of the Wellcome Trust, proposes more powers and funding for the Information Commissioner's Office and to make life easier for medical researchers. But this was supposed to be an examination of the principles of government handling of personal data.
It disgracefully fails to recognise the magnitude of the database state. Apart from a feeble couple of lines on "the potential hazards associated with ambitious programmes of data sharing", Thomas and Walport dodge any serious discussion of the National Identity Scheme, NHS Electronic Care Records and Secondary Uses Service (SUS), ContactPoint or any other 'Transformational Government' initiative - and, worse, propose weakening privacy protections by allowing ministers to fast-track data-trafficking proposals through Parliament with even less scrutiny than at present.
You might wonder whether that indicates any real concern about the 'hazards' to those whose lives are affected by such data.
If you want to see a truly positive approach, we recommend you read NO2ID's submission to the enquiry. We think we should take advantage of technology to deliver real protection and real privacy - and that we need new, clearer law to make you 'owner' of information about you.
Data protection isn't privacy. Regulation of officials by officials will always be inadequate. What is needed are ways for you to decide who to trust, and for you to keep control. Privacy rights that can be directly enforced by the millions of people whose interests are actually at stake will not be casually abused.
Only eight months after losing millions of families' financial details, and just before Parliament goes into recess... it is time to release the official reports, all at once:
Maybe these dense documents, some of which were done before the May elections, are appearing now as holiday reading for ministers. There are "serious institutional deficiencies" and "woefully inadequate" processes not just at HMRC but all across government. There's no point trying to blame isolated individuals. It is systemic.
The Information Commissioner suggests "formal enforcement action" for "deplorable failures" - departments should produce progress reports on Data Protection compliance. The criminal act would be for HMRC to fail to file yet another report in a year's time. It is like teaching small boys hygiene by sending them to play in mud.
None of the reports notes how more projects just add more risks. The ID Scheme, NHS Programme for IT, and ContactPoint (cataloguing the personal life of every child) - among others - will massively increase the information in government hands.
Nor does any of them address the most sensible solution: stop the database state. Government should collect less data. "Data minimisation" was the unambiguous recommendation of the MPs on the Home Affairs Committee.
Ministers blame officials. Officials blame procedures. But it doesn't matter who is to blame when the breakdown of huge systems is inevitable. Until "information sharing" is institutionally impossible, the only way to keep your privacy safe is not to let officials have your personal information in the first place.
With the publication of the Home Affairs Select Committee report: "A Surveillance Society?" the ID scheme gets its third official black mark in four months. The committee of MPs of all parties demanded that:
"The Government should give an explicit undertaking to adhere to a principle of data minimisation and should resist a tendency to collect more personal information and establish larger databases. Any decision to create a major new database, to share information on databases, or to implement proposals for increased surveillance, should be based on a proven need."
This is NO2ID's view too. We're glad they agree. However, it is totally incompatible with the conception of a National Identity Register that would store and control all essential facts about everyone for life, in order to support broader data-sharing across government. James Hall, the head of the Identity and Passport Service wrote last year:
[Joined-up government] will demand increased inter-departmental co-operation and will, by its nature, involve sharing more data about an individual between public sector organisations. The national identity scheme is being designed to meet that public expectation of improved services and joined-up government.
That is data maximisation.
Last month the committee of technology experts appointed by the Government complained [ISAP Report, 156kb PDF] that the scheme lacks "robust and transparent operational data governance regime and clear data architecture".
In other words, it is an insecure muddle.
And back in March, Sir James Crosby, commissioned by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor to look into "identity assurance", laid out ten clear principles for the design of a universal identity system. The Home Office was already breaking every one, but had the gall to claim Crosby's report justified its scheme.
It's official: wrong in principle, shoddily built, and a threat to privacy. The ID card project must be stopped.
The Home Secretary has announced the government's 2008 'Delivery Plan' [PDF] for the ID scheme, a plan that NO2ID showed - with leaked documents [PDF] - in January to be little more than a marketing exercise. Nothing has changed.
On the same day, almost a year late, the Treasury published the review that Gordon Brown commissioned from Sir James Crosby in 2006. No wonder it's been kept under wraps for so long. The government's own advisor lays out ten broad principles for the design of a "consumer-driven universal ID assurance system" scheme - and the Home Office ID scheme breaks them all.
1. Any scheme should be restricted to enabling citizens to assert their identity ... BROKEN
2. Governance should inspire trust. It should be independent of Government ... BROKEN
3. The amount of data stored should be minimised. Full biometric images (other than photographs) should not be kept ... BROKEN
4. Citizens should "own" their entry. It should not be possible, except for national security, for any data to be shared without informed consent ... BROKEN
5. Enrolment should minimise costs and give citizens a hassle-free experience ... BROKEN
6. To respond to consumers and give benefits, it should be capable of being rolled out quickly ... BROKEN
7. Citizens who lose cards or whose identity is compromised should be able to get it fixed quickly and efficiently ... BROKEN
8. The scheme's systems should work with existing, efficient, bank systems to reduce risks ... BROKEN
9. To engage consumers enrolment and cards should be provided free of charge ... BROKEN
10. The market should play a role in creating standards, to ensure ease of use and minimise costs ... BROKEN
And finally - unless we've overlooked something - the Home Office published the results of its latest survey [PDF]. The Home Secretary bluffs and blusters that the benefits of ID cards are "undoubted", but her own department's research shows that while three-quarters of people consider the claimed benefits to be "very important", only just over one quarter consider them to be "very believable".
Unprincipled. Unchanged. Unbelievable.
[For an explanation of how each principle has been broken, see NO2ID's press release on the Crosby Review.]
Though some say Gordon Brown is putting off the ID scheme until after the next general election, the evidence tells a different story. Plans are racing onwards, and there has been a violent swerve in the policy. Officials across government are plotting how to bully and dupe people onto the ID database as quickly as they can. This is a radically different plan from those already published.
Out go fingerprints (for some), exposing the lie that "biometrics will secure your personal information". And out goes the pretence that this is all being driven by "necessary" changes to the passport. They are working on "various forms of coercion" for particular groups of workers, young people and students, people who need to open a bank account and anyone wanting to drive. (A campaign of intimidation has already started: employers are being frightened into demanding Home Office approved forms of ID from all job applicants, under threats of massive fines if they employ an illegal immigrant inadvertently.)
You don't have to take our word for it, you can read these leaked plans yourself, with NO2ID's explanatory notes:
Those building the scheme are preparing this new strategy for the Government to rubber-stamp. If the ministers are actually in charge, then it is not apparent.
The Government should:
You have been lied to. The scheme is not voluntary. It is not proceeding according to published plans.
Don't be fooled, fight back... Make the NO2ID Pledge.
"Information sharing" is supposed to sound nice. But think about it - gossip is information sharing.
There is still almost daily news of the government mislaying confidential personal information. Well over a month after HMRC lost 25 million people's records - including millions of unencrypted bank account details - you would hope that ministers and officials would be taking things seriously.
The flimsy 6-page official 'interim report' shows the reality. After four weeks of 'investigation', there's no clue that what happened is anything other than normal.
Meanwhile... evidence that it is normal: 3 million learner drivers' details lost in Iowa (why collect so much private information in one place, let alone pass it around?) and hundreds of thousands of patients' details go missing from nine seperate NHS Trusts.
Anyone receiving any sort of regular payment from the government (benefit, salary, or fees) should care as much about official information handling habits as they already do about hospital or food hygiene. So should anyone applying for a license or a permit.
So should anyone who receives a pension.
Hidden behind the headlines, HMRC has been steadily exposing the private details of tens of thousands of pensioners, giving away the keys to their pension funds. Just before 'Disc-gate', it was Standard Life customers - now it's Countrywide Assured's. In fact, HMRC has been forced to apologise for seven such breaches.
"Reviews" achieve nothing. They are intended to: the whole purpose is to let officialdom carry on as before.
The truth is that the main threat to the security of your identity is Mr Brown's "Transformational Government" data-sharing policies. You cannot keep personal information private if you give it to a government that is itching to pass it around.
The government cannot now be trusted. People across the country are deciding they can choose for themselves who they are and who they trust. The NO2ID Pledge is a way of declaring to your friends and neighbours that you will not cooperate with any further government seizure of your personal information.
Why not make it your New Year's Revolution?
With the news of yet another serious data breach, compromising the confidential details of over 40,000 people, coming less than a fortnight after HMRC lost the records of every family in the country, NO2ID renews its call for a complete and independent audit of all personal information held by government.
Who has what, who is it shared with, and how else is it abused? Demand answers from your MP - keep using www.WriteToThem.com. You have a right to know.
The separate reviews that Gordon Brown has proposed will inevitably be aimed at superficial failure of departmental procedure and not touch on the malignancy at the core of government policy.
Why hasn't the Ministry of Justice's upcoming legislative programme (paragraph A.5 of the recently-published Service Transformation Agreement), explicitly intended "to overcome current barriers to information sharing within the public sector" been axed? And why do ministers lie and lie again, saying that personal information on the proposed National Identity Register will be "protected by biometrics". It won't be. It can't be.
The men currently charged by Gordon Brown to look at data protection across government are the overstretched Information Commissioner - whose remit means he can only suggest more regulation of the sort that hasn't worked here, and which Whitehall will route around - and Dr Mark Walport, a strong advocate of "a national system of linked data" - one of the last people you'd want fighting for your personal privacy.
So it's time we did something ourselves.
The only way to stop them abusing your confidence is not to yield it in the first place. That is why NO2ID is giving The NO2ID Pledge to everyone in the country who wants to fight. If enough people publicly declare they will not cooperate, government seizure of personal identity will become impossible.
As the scandal around the HMRC Child Benefit data breach intensifies, even some sceptical Labour MPs are calling for a (temporary) halt to the ID cards scheme. This is not enough. MPs of all parties should be calling for the immediate and permanent scrapping of the Home Office's "identity management" programme.
Not just the card, not just the database, but also the mass 'data-sharing' that lies at the heart of government ID policy.
NOW is the time to write to your MP via WriteToThem.com asking that he or she demand an immediate and permanent stop to all development of ID cards and a National Identity Register.
If you don't already know his or her position, you can check how your MP voted on the ID cards legislation at TheyWorkForYou.com.
Be polite, be concise and make your points clearly — read NO2ID's lobbying guide (21KB PDF file) for advice on how to write an effective letter. Absolutely insist. The more MPs that receive mail on this from their constituents, the more the pressure will build to drop the scheme.
It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry. The cabinet insists we should trust them to manage everyone's life through a National Identity Register. Meanwhile HMRC has mislaid discs containing the names, dates of birth, national insurance numbers and bank details of 25 million British people — more than seven million families.
The package was sent in the state's internal post — and was neither recorded nor registered. The value to organised crime of the information on the two "lost" discs is incalculable — but certainly runs into hundreds of millions of pounds. The government, of course, blames junior officials for a failure to follow protocols.
But it simply should not be possible for junior staff — or the chancellor himself — to collect or copy such details in one place. That it is, is a direct result of the government's obsession with centralised databases and its contempt for citizens' privacy.
Something positive may come of it, though. With your help, NO2ID can use this a clear illustration of the real danger in state control of personal identity to defeat the ID scheme quickly.
The news comes just as NO2ID is raising desperately needed funds for a legal challenge to the database state. We have contacted all 11,000+ citizens who pledged to contribute £10 to a legal defence fund. If you didn't join that pledge, it's not too late to help.
If you're one of the 25,000,000 people who have already been exposed by the government, please help us make sure that this never happens again. If you're one of those lucky ones whose private information hasn't been lost in the internal post, please help us keep you safe.
To win the fight we don't just need funds for legal action. To keep up the pressure and battle the government's publicity machine costs money. If you haven't joined NO2ID already, or if you haven't given to our general funds recently, please do so now. Thank you for your support.
Remember the Poll Tax? In 1987 a popular Conservative government was re-elected by a landslide against an "unelectable" opposition. One manifesto commitment was a proposal to reform local taxation. Policy makers thought it was a pretty good idea. The public scarcely noticed.
Only three years later, the universally hated Poll Tax was causing mass disobedience, even riots. Many of those who paid it without fuss still hated it. They hated it particularly because of how it was collected. It was intrusive. The council wanted to know where you lived and who lived with you.
It was the end of Margaret Thatcher. Her successors swiftly replaced the policy, but could not regain trust. Everything that went wrong in the 80s, before the Poll Tax, the electorate forgave the Tories. For everything that went wrong after the Poll Tax, the Tories were blamed. Inventing the Poll Tax didn't do that. Implementing it did.
In 2005 a still-popular Labour government was re-elected against an "unelectable" opposition. One manifesto commitment, sold on that occasion as immigration control, was a National Identity Register. Policy makers thought it was a pretty good idea. The public scarcely noticed.
But when they are summoned to an official interview about who they are and where they live - they'll notice.
NO2ID has now called in the pledged donations of over 11,000 people who in 2005 committed themselves to donate to a legal defence fund to fight the government's ID scheme. Every one of those people has also declared that they will refuse to register for an ID card.
If you think you, not the government should own your identity, then please join the campaign. Every penny will be spent fighting for real liberty and privacy.
Gordon Brown talks about 'liberty' and yet is driving us towards a "papers, please" Britain with people more watched and supervised by the state than anywhere in the western world.
He lauds 'data protection'. But Britain has the weakest data-protection law in Europe. A third of the EU Data Protection Directive is missing or unenforceable here. Meanwhile, what commitment to 'protection' of your personal and family life is shown by creating open access to family and medical records for hundreds of thousands of public officials?
He talks about 'privacy' yet in the same speech acknowledges he is pushing ahead with an ID scheme that will build a detailed dossier on every resident of the UK. And he is actively removing what barriers there are to your personal information being shared by officials without your knowledge or consent.
And he trumpets "Freedom of Information". A free-for-all in Whitehall, maybe, but the Treasury is right now spending your tax money in court appeals against the Information Commissioner and Information Tribunal to keep the 2004 'Gateway Reviews' of the ID programme from the public.
Smokescreen 'debate' can't conceal the government's authoritarian agenda.
Mr Brown, you're fooling no-one.
NO2ID demands repeal of the Identity Cards Act 2006 and meaningful privacy protection. We need your support - now, more than ever.
If you think you, not the government should own your identity, then please join or make a donation. Every penny will be spent fighting for real liberty and privacy.
In response to comments by Lord Justice Sedley, the Prime Minister says he has no plans to put everyone onto the National DNA Database. We believe him. It would be impossibly expensive.
In reality, however, various interested groups are lobbying to expand DNA sampling by the police. There is always pressure for a bigger database, more powers. The current Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) review is seriously considering taking DNA from people stopped for 'non-recordable' offences, such as littering or traffic violations.
Both the new Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz MP, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics say that it is "unjustified" to keep on the database people who have not been convicted of any offence. But now records are removed only rarely, with the special approval of a Chief Constable. You have no rights over your sample. The Nuffield Council says the law in England and Wales should be brought more in line with Scotland, with DNA profiles used in evidence, but kept only for convicted criminals.
Lord Sedley is worried that the current system is unfair. But the real proposals for expanding the database would make that worse, with more disproportion and more scope for errors. And a recent ICM poll shows a majority of people do NOT support the taking of DNA for minor offences.
DNA does have a vital function in some criminal investigations. But the Home Office line is that samples from innnocent individuals should never, ever be discarded - just in case they might come in useful one day. As a police tool it is weakened by making it just another pretext for the database state.
Desperate to be seen to be doing something, the government has finally got around to inviting expressions of interest from potential suppliers who might wish to bid for elements of its National Identity Scheme.
Those paying attention will note that no contracts have been awarded. No specifications have been issued. But over £72 million of taxpayers' money has already been spent.
And, far from a "£2 billion" total that the directors of the scheme are now trying to claim for the project, the formal notice in the Official Journal of the European Union clearly shows how the biometric visas budget and e-Borders (£1.2 billion) and the money creatively accounted as belonging to the Foreign Office budget for the last 'Dobson Report' (£510 million) are really part of the same grand plan. Add that to the admitted £5.75 billion estimate for passports and ID cards, and you can see - on the government's own figures - the scheme is already costing £7.5 billion. That's over £250 from every taxpayer to set up a card that's 'only' supposed to cost £30. No wonder the Home Office has been keeping its figures secret - and its not even counting what it will cost you in time and money to use, of course.
The latest spin comes straight after the BBC's File On 4 got James Hall, the head of the ID project to admit that:
Meanwhile a top biometrics expert who was a consultant to the IPS has revealed that using fingerprints can be expected to produce tens of thousands of false results by the time even 10% of the population are enrolled.
A massive cost in money AND unnecessary suspicion. For what?
Gordon Brown is talking nonsense. His assertion at Prime Minister's Questions that more and more people want ID cards doesn't match the facts. The truth is that the more people find out about it, the less they like the ID scheme.
The new Prime Minister has promised change. He says he wants to re-establish trust. To show a genuine break with the past he should drop the ID scheme, not try to paint it as more popular than ever when it just isn't. That sounds like spin.
It is time to take a serious look at the ID scheme, Mr Brown. It has been offered to solve every problem in Whitehall - but never explained how. Most people don't want ID cards, when they take time to think about the details.
Neither should you.
The Home Office has now quietly published its six-monthly report [108 KB PDF] (actually more of a seven-monthly report, despite the law that says it must be six-monthly) into the cost of the ID scheme, taking advantage of the fact that most media time this week will be taken up with assessments of Tony Blair's past and future.
It is fifteen pages long, yet contains more flannel than figures. The figures themselves show that the cost estimate is up again. And despite these being the Home Office's most optimistically presented, and entirely unsupported, projections, the total cost is up by nearly a billion pounds (£1,000,000,000) over the 10 years covered by the report.
It isn't stated as plainly as that. To find out you have to add together the sums shown separately for UK citizens and for foreign nationals, who also have to be registered with new visa arrangements and ID cards, AND £510 million pounds included in the previous estimate for the cost to ex-pats but now being ignored as belonging to the FCO, not the Home Office.
The tracking of everybody will be run through the same computer systems, but the pretense is that the fingerprinting and registration of foreigners and the fingerprinting and registration of UK citizens at home and abroad are somehow separate programmes, so the costs are independent. They aren't. Nor are the costs to you or to other branches of government of actually using the scheme. All the Report estimates is the administration costs of the scheme itself, fairly creatively accounted.
Perhaps it is worth remembering that when the scheme was first announced, as "entitlement cards", back in 2002 the cost was estimated at between £1.3 billion and £3.1 billion - over a longer period of 13 years.
Nor do we "have to do this for electronic passports". That's already been done. They have been being issued for 18 months. The only reason for the cost and inconvenience of the ID scheme is so the Home Office can keep a file on you, in case it comes in useful one day to know all about you.
Section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 requires the Home Secretary to publish his estimate of the ten-year cost of the ID scheme "before the end of every six months". The first Dobson report  was published on 9th October 2006. The next is already more than three weeks overdue.
Is the timing important? It can't be lack of resources. There are dozens of highly-paid consultants doing nothing but planning the scheme.
But the latest cost estimates matter to local government. The Government is hiding the cost to councils - even from its own councillors.
The local elections and Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly elections on May 3rd were a test for policy. The ID scheme is unpopular. 1 in 3 people across the UK, if we are to believe recently-revealed government figures, are expected to resist it. Labour Party candidates, whatever their personal views on the scheme, suffer when public attention is drawn to it. Burying bad news?
 Frank Dobson MP moved the amendment that created the report.
After over two years and four months of evasion, legal wrangling and appeals, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) - a Treasury department - has been told by the Information Tribunal that it must publish its early Gateway reviews of the ID Cards Programme in full. Given 28 days to comply, the Treasury may yet waste even more taxpayers' money by appealing to the High Court.
The saga began in January 2005 when Mark Dziecielewski (founder of the Watching Them, Watching Us surveillance regulation campaign and member of NO2ID's Advisory Board) requested publication of the OGC's 'Stage Zero' reviews. Despite a Decision Notice in favour of full disclosure from the Information Commissioner in July 2006, the government has resisted disclosure at every stage - even engaging lawyers to fight a ruling under its own Freedom of Information Act.
What hasn't it been telling us? And why were Parliament and the public denied this (and other) information during the passage of the deeply controversial Identity Cards Bill? Someone obviously has something to hide...
The next phase of the ID scheme is about to begin. Already the PM has torn up 2005's promises to Parliament about how the ID database will work. Now he backs police 'fishing expeditions'. What next?
How do YOU fancy a 20-minute grilling by an official? Or a dossier on your private life built by bureaucrats? Do you know what official files say about you - what if they are wrong?
From April 2007 the UK Identity & Passport Service begins to open ID interrogation centres - 69 of them this year. New passport applicants - mostly teenagers - will be guinea-pigs for National Identity Scheme enrolment.
At the head of the queue are 300,000 young people. You, or your family... soon to be treated as suspects.
A passport is not a right. Soon when you apply you'll be asked for lots of information about yourself: official numbers, old addresses, your education, that sort of thing. It will be used to look up everything about you: school, social services, police, and credit records, perhaps family details... to grab all your private information. "Data-rape", some people are calling it.
You may - later, you will - be summoned, at a time to suit the IPS. Photos and fingerprints will be taken. An "intrusive interview" will check that your answers about details of your life agree with the official ones. If they do, you'll get your passport. If not... it is not clear.
It takes time to assemble a file on you. The UK IPS estimates 1 in 4 will have to cancel their travel plans, because they do not get a passport in time.
Get a passport NOW. Tell your friends, if you think their private lives should be their own. If you do before the centres open, your chances of avoiding data-rape are good. And by fighting you'll help stop it happening to others.
Before you go wandering for your gap year or on holiday, tell Tony Blair and his bullying government to "Take a hike".
Before Christmas the Home Office said it would not create a "new, clean" ID database. It would link information on three existing ones. Ministers insisted that private details would be protected by security measures and the normal rules of confidentiality.
The Prime Minister's new scheme repudiates that promise, just three weeks on. Give personal information to an official in future and you'll lose control forever - you won't know who else sees it. You won't know what use it could be put to when the government has a new idea.
The "database state" is near.
Government doesn't trust us - why else such endless cross-checking? - but it expects us to give it absolute trust, absolute discretion. But the reason we have law is because human beings cannot be trusted with absolute power. By scrapping confidentiality, ministers give all officials the right to talk about us behind our backs. It means more petty bullying, jobs-worths and "the computer says NO".
That it means "efficiency" is not credible. Government IT systems often fail*, and ruin people's lives daily - and that's when working separately. How much worse if they were all linked?
A spin warning: according to the BBC,
"So-called "citizens panels" will gauge public reaction to relaxing privacy procedures so people do not have to repeat personal information to different public bodies - particularly at times of stress such as a family death."
No trust here either. Real debate is too unpredictable. By controlling the questions considered by his discussion groups, Mr Blair intends to make sure that "the people" only tell him what he wants to hear.
*Just a few recent examples:
It's New Year. What better time for a new pretext for the ever-changing ID scheme?
2007 begins with Home Office minister Liam Byrne telling us that ID cards are "the solution" to people trafficking. Another function for ID - and with an emotional hook to stop you thinking straight. Remember it also 'a solution' for terrorism and fraud. But not "the solution".
Let us think about this:
According to its 'Strategic Action Plan', the Home Office will begin collecting citizens' biometrics alongside those of asylum seekers some time in 2007 or 2008. It will also be introducing "biometric" visas soon: a fancy way of saying, fingerprinting some visitors.
With this scheme, if it works, once nearly everybody has a card or a visa, then you can find out who doesn't - by checking their number or re-fingerprinting them when they come into contact with an official. Making all public sector staff and many private sector employers into immigration officers, in effect.
Meanwhile people trafficking involves those who don't come into contact with officials. They are smuggled past borders, in unregistered work, avoiding checks - or in the worst cases locked-up as slaves.
It is these last we are meant to think of when Mr Byrne says "people trafficking". Particularly women enslaved by gangsters in brothels. It is disgusting the minister chooses to exploit them to sell the ID scheme.
Biometrics and ID cards won't 'catch illegals'. They just make illegal status rigid by removing grey areas.
The scheme wastes time for law-abiding citizens and visitors. It scarcely touches those trying to keep a low profile. It is wholly irrelevant to those who are forced to live in secret. (Except, if you can't live without a card, it is one more way to keep you captive.)
So, minister, you are spending billions on rebuilding three giant government computer systems, so that you can fingerprint Aunt Mabel and track her to her holiday home in Cleethorpes, and make Jack pass a hostile interrogation before you let him go on his gap-year. How does that help Marta from the Ukraine, who is not even sure which country she is living in any more?
Tuesday 19th was the last day of the Parliamentary term. So that's the day the Home Office chose to announce its delayed "Identity Management Action Plan", now called the Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme [pdf]. Mr Reid appears to have told Parliament, but his name doesn't appear on it. Ministers Byrne and Ryan, and Mr Hall of the IPS share the limelight.
At the weekend, we wrote, Parliament rises on Tuesday 19th, so it seems unlikely we'll hear anything new about the ID programme until 2007 - unless there is an attempt to sneak something out under cover of bad news.
And this looks like it. There's a sudden change of emphasis from ID cards to the Register and its use for data-sharing across government (chapters 1, 2 and 6).
Quote: "A really effective identity management scheme is essential in order to shape public services around the citizen and realise the goal of truly joined-up and personalised government." (the conclusion)
Which is what NO2ID has been warning about for two years. 'Personalised' government means more direct, unified, control over the individual citizen. The whole state on your case, the whole time.
Only now we are told that there won't be a single database containing the National Identity Register (NIR) after all. The information (s15, 16, 17) is intended to be held on several distinct departmental systems (which will be linked together), mixed up with other government information on citizens, some of it labeled as part of the NIR and part not. And the priority is to link other government systems (s86): criminal records first, then checking on your employment, then pensions, local authority services and proof of age in shops.
Curiously none of those facts finds its way into the UK IPS press release, which prefers to dwell on new powers sought by the Home Office to fingerprint foreigners.
Did they hope no-one would read the actual document?
Are we dreaming? Or did Liam Byrne, Home Office minister for immigration, not say on Wednesday 6th December: "We will next week make an announcement on our plans for ID cards and we want technology like this [the biometric scanning system at Heathrow] to plug into a national ID system."?
"Next week" has gone and there has been no announcement. We think he must have been referring to the 'Identity Management Action Plan', as announced by his colleague Joan Ryan MP back in October. She said ""We will bring forward a clear plan in the coming weeks." Is there a problem, Mr Byrne?
Parliament rises on Tuesday 19th, so it seems unlikely we'll hear anything new about the ID programme until 2007 - unless there is an attempt to sneak something out under cover of bad news. (Observers of the surveillance state should note that among the many, many things that happened on the day of the 'Diana' report was the resignation of Lord Warner - the minister responsible for the NHS patient records databases.)
According to the National Audit Office (NAO) on Monday 11th December, "Personnel records were difficult to locate and some could not be found at all... The Home Office does not have adequate controls to reconcile the payroll and personnel records to determine exact staff numbers". Perhaps it has not just lost the plan, but the people responsible for writing it. According to a recent response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Heather Brooke of 'Your Right to Know', the department now says "an Identity Card Team does not exist."
The Government has always failed to deal with informed criticism of the scheme. So it prefers to withhold information altogether. Don't hold your breath waiting for "a clear plan".
Two simple words sum up the casual indifference and arrogant ignorance of the Home Office when responding to Steve Boggan's feature in the Guardian G2, in which we demonstrated serious flaws in the security of the UK's new 'biometric' ePassports. Once the government gets a copy of your personal information, it seems not particularly to care who else can get hold of it.
Bureaucratic convenience trumps personal security and privacy yet again.
The assessment of EU information society 'Network of Excellence' FIDIS is rather more realistic and appropriate. Its recent Budapest declaration clearly states that "by failing to implement an appropriate security architecture" the UK and other European governments have "dramatically decreased [citizens'] security and privacy and increased risk of identity theft".
Even more surprisingly, the draft summary of a US Department of Homeland Security report says that RFID (the chip technology in the passport) "increases risks to personal privacy and security, with no commensurate benefit for performance or national security." This, from the very government that has halted implementation of RFID technology in its own passports, despite insisting that our government foist it upon us.
That the Home Office doesn't care about the privacy of British citizens is already quite clear - that it doesn't care about the security of your personal data (a photograph and D.O.B. now, in a year or so, your fingerprints and home address...) is a damning indictment of a dysfunctional department that wishes to be responsible for holding the master copy of ALL your most important identity information.
Some of the vulnerabilities have previously been demonstrated in other countries' passports - but, working with experts such as Adam Laurie of The Bunker and academics from Cambridge Computer Laboratory, NO2ID has now shown how terrorists, people traffickers and organised criminals could go about creating perfect digital copies of YOUR passport, without you even suspecting it had been stolen.
Our passport reader was created with little more than a soldering iron and a kitchen knife from cheap off-the-shelf components - and a paperclip. Using freely-available software he wrote based on the published ICAO standards, Adam was able to read the chip on a passport from 30 feet away, relaying the data through two walls.
This was just the beginning.
Watch the media and this site for further graphic demonstrations - starting on Monday 20th November, when you will be able to see the reader software in action for the first time on television in Henry Porter's 'Suspect Nation' at 9pm on More 4.
ID cards are not about 'being modern'. Technology does not supersede liberty. Tony Blair's fantasies of an all-seeing but benevolent database convince few.
The Prime Minister's recent Telegraph article and press conference said nothing new about the ID scheme - except further slippage (to 2009) for the issue of the first cards to British nationals. But it contained a great deal of 'magic thinking' about ID and biometrics.
He did admit that the multi-billion pound scheme is not a solution to the world's ills, but then went on to list a whole bunch of "public concerns" and assert that ID cards will help with all of them. The born-again technophile - who has only just managed to get on email - offers "biometric technology" as both the salvation of the public services and a way to "enhance crime detection"... by the very 'fishing expeditions' in the ID database that parliament were promised would not be allowed.
It is an odd contrast with the Home Office still lacking some convincing benefits for citizens, ten years hence - when, according to government projections, only just over half the population will have ID cards. After spending £50 million on consultants it has no real plans that it dare make public.
Mr Blair's case misrepresents and misleads again and again and again.
ID cards are far from a new idea. Biometrics have been with us, as fingerprinting, for over 100 years.
Imposing centralised "identity management" on everybody threatens to divert resources wherever it is used into yet more bureaucracy. It will expose every law-abiding citizen to crime and mismanagement, the whim of officials, administrative error and technical glitches.
And it will take control of who we are away from us all. Calling that "modern" doesn't make it less oppressive. Say "NO" now.
The ID scheme will give one government agency the master copy of your personal details. Who you are officially will be what the ID computer says. The government will pass that information around departments, to anyone else it likes - even foreign governments - and change it as it sees fit. If you believe it will be in any way 'voluntary', think again.
You'll have no choice.
Hundreds of thousands of officials will be able to check your details. The ID number will be a key to every compartment of your life.
You'll have no privacy.
Gordon Brown says he wants to extend data-sharing to commercial organisations. He is consulting banks and insurance companies mainly. How you spend your money will be under surveillance too.
You'll have no control.
You know already that "identity cards will inevitably contain wrong information and errors of one kind or another". 71% of people say they believe "it is inevitable that the data stored on people's identity cards will sometimes be leaked, sold, hacked into or in other ways used improperly". But the card is the least of it. The scheme is being designed for the vital facts of your life to be passed from hand to hand, computer to computer, almost without limit. All the information that builds up will be kept for ever.
It is already clear that the ID scheme is in chaos before it has been built.
But once there's a system to gather and manage ALL information about you, the government will use it more and more to interfere in your life, in ways it hasn't even thought of yet. Once your details are on record, that record will be you - whether it is right or wrong.
You won't decide who you are. The government will. Does that make you feel safer?
The government claims that ID cards will stamp out identity fraud. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Forget the hype. What is actually going to happen?
The plan is to use billions of pounds of taxpayers' money to set up a huge network of enrolment centres to interrogate every person over the age of 16 and record their details on a database. That will be used to create a government monopoly on 'identity management'. Who you are is to be nationalised.
Not only will you have to give up your private details, you'll be made to pay to be fingerprinted, numbered and tracked for the rest of your life. You will be forced to keep the information up to date, but you won't control it. It will be fixed by the state.
Then every time you use your card, the government records it. Over time the database will map everything you do. Worse, an ID check will tag your files on other systems (your bank, GP, insurer, etc.) with your ID number. So officials and anyone who gets into the system will be able to find out all about you. Even the bits they say they'll never store on their database, will be on someone else's.
It will be easier than ever to take over your life, and harder than you can imagine to get it back. When someone else is officially you and everything in life is linked to an official identity, how do you prove who you are?
It is the biggest ID fraud of all to say that government "ID management" will make us safer. You control who you are, for now. Don't let them take that away.
Please fill in the form on this page to get a FREE information pack and regular newsletter, or join NO2ID now.
* Whilst NO2ID heartily endorses practical advice on how to protect yourself against identity theft, we are disappointed to note that the Stop ID Fraud website is still referencing the Home Office's utterly discredited identity fraud figures as "fact".
Despite having spent £46.4 million by the end of May this year just planning 'ID cards', the Home Office has not announced what it is going to do next. It seems no closer to issuing a specification of its ID scheme to suppliers.
Vague mumblings from ministers suggest that the scheme they sold to Parliament to get it to pass the Identity Cards Act 2006 is dead. Instead the government may intend to build 'ID cards' using its existing shambolic databases, and issue some worthless bits of plastic so that it can say the job has been done within budget.
That will be a pretext for government departments and other public and commercial bodies to get on with the serious, and dangerous, business of "data sharing" - passing around your personal information as they see fit - which was the main purpose of the ID scheme for government anyway.
This, of course, begs a few questions for Monday 9th October when the first 'Dobson report' on the projected costs of the scheme are provided (late) to Parliament:
Ministers will say, "We're trying reduce costs... we always intended to build it incrementally". Do not believe the spin.
The original plan for a national ID scheme, laid out by David Blunkett in 2004, demanded two things: a new, 'clean' database and 'infallible' biometrics. Biometrics on this scale have become a joke. It seems the massive new database is in question, too.
'ID cards' were always a figleaf for the more sinister National Identity Register and "data sharing" surveillance. Now we will start to see the con-trick exposed.
But it doesn't stop vast consultancy fees piling up. YOUR money, YOUR identity - their control, their gain.
21 countries in Europe have ID cards. Almost all got them decades ago. Almost all the systems were imposed by dictatorships or under Nazi or Soviet occupation. Almost all have been used to harass political opposition, bully minorities, or facilitate mass-murder.
Everywhere - without exception - the purpose has been monitoring the people for official purposes.
Tony Blair is not Hitler. But he is building the tools of totalitarianism. The identity scheme he is pushing is more controlling than any Europe has seen before. He can give no guarantee how it may be used in his lifetime, let alone the lifetimes of our children.
Some practical freedoms - personal privacy, confidentiality, anonymity, going about our business without need for official permit - are so familiar to us that they are unnoticed, like breathing. This ID scheme will choke them. It seeks to replace the trust in our society with formal validation by officials.
Numbered, indexed and tagged, your identity subject to approval, the simplest things in life will no longer be under your control. Tony may have faith in the future, but who else will have that power? In 10 years? In 20? In what back room?
Help NO2ID stop it, before it is too late.
Information given for one purpose cannot normally be used for another. Personal privacy, protection from identity fraud, confidentiality, and trust itself, rest on that principle.
Now the government wants to tear it up. It has declared that your private information should be shared by state agencies, bureaucrats and officials for any official purpose. This contrasts with its own, secretive, approach to making policy. The Nanny State excuses no longer hide Big Brother intentions.
In a new "Information sharing vision statement" [399KB PDF document] the government outlines how it wants to reverse the presumption of confidentiality and to revoke some basic Data Protection Principles when officials deal in future with people and businesses.
Against established good practice and its own past legislation, the Government has decided it need not have to follow the rules for everyone else. Departments will be empowered to swap information whenever useful for them - without the knowledge or consent of the persons involved.
This is the key to the ID card puzzle. Once you are numbered and fingerprinted, all official and almost all private information about you can be collated. From now on, assume that anything you tell to an official will not only go on your file, but may be sent on to anyone at all in 'the public interest'. And 'public interest' has just been redefined by the Identity Cards Act 2006 to mean 'official convenience'.
This is a plan to give hundreds of thousands of civil servants the keys to your and your children's lives. Yet, faced with the monstrous Children's Index and National Identity Register, the Information Commissioner seems to have thrown in the towel.
Please read the linked articles... and, please, if you value your own privacy or that of your family then write to your MP, and send a copy of your letter to your local paper.
NO2ID and its supporters continue to successfully lobby councils and public bodies across the UK to pass motions against ID cards. Bolton MBC recently resolved to:
(1) Take no part in any pilot scheme or feasibility work in relation to the introduction of National Identity Cards.
(2) Ensure that National Identity Cards will not be required to access Council services or benefits unless specifically required to do so by an Act of Parliament.
(3) Only co-operate with the National Identity Card scheme where to do so would otherwise be unlawful.
And Milton Keynes Council has just resolved, in addition to blocking the ID scheme, to "assist the local NO2ID campaign in educating the residents of Milton Keynes about the dangers to privacy and freedom the scheme will create."
The cost of the ID card scheme has increased massively since the costs were last published, with nothing so far to show for it.
New Home Office minister Joan Ryan gave new figures this August. The total so far is up from £32.05 million spent to the end of December 2005, to £46.4 million by the end of May. In those five months the Home Office spent almost £3 million per month on the Identity Cards Programme.
Back in February, papers reported that spending on the ID cards programme was £63,000 per day. Yet before the Bill had even been passed, this shot up to a staggering £95,000 per day. Why was the Home Office spending so much before gaining Parliamentary assent, and on what?
It certainly doesn't seem to have much to show for the almost £50 million it has spent so far.
Freedom of Information requests reveal that the programme was hiring 98 consultants. But it is hard to understand what they - and the additional 54 civil servants and 34 interim staff on the team - have been doing all this time. The actual building of the system has been put off. And the IT firms waiting to do the work have not been given any specifications.
The Home Office has always refused to give any total cost for the scheme. But it has stuck rigidly to its estimate that the running costs will be £584 million a year. The non-running costs of the scheme are (or were in May) £36 million a year. In other words, it costs over 6% of that budget for the Home Office NOT to tell anyone how the money is to be spent. Why should the bigger figure be trusted at all?
...but, as NO2ID predicted, the United Kingdom Identity & Passport Service (UKIPS) has this week announced that the price of an adult passport will be hiked to £66 from October 5th this year. A 'premium service' (one day) renewal will cost £108 for adults and £93 for children.
That's a 57% increase in just 10 months, and a DOUBLING of the price since October 2003 - which was when the government first claimed it was introducing anti-fraud measures including microchips and biometrics.
So what were these previous rises actually spent on?
A big chunk of the 2003 rise went to pay off the Passport Service's £26m debt to the Treasury after the 1999 computer crisis - a fact that Tony Blair seems conveniently to have forgotten in claiming that the passport system "worked extremely well". The most recent online application fiasco would suggest that UKIPS is still having problems managing its IT systems.
In reality, the British public are being made to pay for measures essential to the new ID cards programme - but entirely unnecessary and disproportionate for passports alone: compulsory interviews and background checks at one of 69 new 'enrolment' centres; further price hikes as fingerprinting and iris scanning are introduced; a massive new database to track everyone within the country, not just at borders.
It makes more sense than ever to renew your passport now, and buy yourself and your family 10 years' freedom from all sorts of risks, untold bureaucracy and punitive charges.
This summer, RENEW FOR FREEDOM.
The Home Office ID programme is in trouble. A series of e-mails leaked to the Sunday Times from OGC - the Office of Government Commerce, part of the Treasury - and (UK)IPS - the new UK Identity & Passport Service - revealed that senior civil servants believe the project to be yet another fiasco in the making.
Government spin has been predictable, first claiming that the ID scheme was 'under review', then "broadly on track", and now proceeding "at the same pace".
So what is fact and what is fantasy?
FACT: the ID scheme that the government has been selling for the last two years or more is a lie. With no clearly-expressed, evidence-based goal or justification, 'feature creep' almost every time ministers opened their mouths, and a complete unwillingness to listen to real experts in the field, the Home Office has lumbered itself (and us!) with something impossibly complex, horrendously expensive, and utterly unworkable.
FACT: they passed the Act anyway, wasting tens of millions in the process. The biggest threat to everyone's civil liberties is leaving a law on the statute books which permits compulsory registration, lifelong surveillance and population control by ID. But we also risk seeing billions of pounds of taxpayers' money (which could be far better spent elsewhere) being thrown away in pursuit of this authoritarian delusion. Even worse, a botched attempt could expose all our most personal information, including biometrics like fingerprints - leaving some with no control over their private affairs or identities for the rest of their lives.
FACT: the government will proceed regardless. This programme has been politically driven from the outset and will remain so. Tony Blair can't afford another U-turn, and the ID programme (or more accurately, the National Identity Register) is at the heart of government strategy. The bureaucrats would love for us to all be neatly numbered, so our data can be shared ever more 'efficiently' - and the suppliers still stand to make billions, whether they deliver or fail.
The danger from the ID scheme is greater than ever.
Now the government is looking at issuing cut-down 'early variant' ID cards that would 'protect' your identity with nothing more than a four-digit PIN. A gift to fraudsters. They will still fingerprint, iris scan, background check and interrogate you for a passport - but then simply store all your data in their database. No 'benefits' or services for the public. Just all the costs, risks and intrusion.
NO2ID is redoubling its efforts - and YOU can help. It is more important than ever that we get the message out to a public that may think 'ID cards' are off the agenda. Street stalls, leafletting - even going door-to-door. Now is the time to wake people up to the real and present danger of the ID scheme.
The battle continues...
Whitehall knows the ID system is doomed, according to emails leaked to the Sunday Times:
From: Foord, David (OGC)
Sent: 08 June 2006 15:17
Subject: RE: Procurement Strategy
This has all the inauspicious signs of a project continuing to be driven by an arbitrary end date rather than reality. The early variant idea introduces huge risk on many levels some of which mature in these procurement options.
How can IPS plan to do anything but extend existing contracts in the absence of an approved business case? The plan on page 8 shows outline business case approval in March 2007 (which incidentally I think is a reasonable target but by no means guaranteed). OJEU is dependent on this (as page 15 plan shows correctly) so Sept 06 is not an option for anything other than supporting business as usual.
And there's much more where that came from.
But how does it square with repeated ministerial statements that all was fine? For instance, Charles Clarke, Hansard, 18 October 2005, Col.800:
Since the debate on Second Reading, the project has been through a further Office of Government Commerce review on business justification. The review confirmed that the project is ready to proceed to the next phase. An independent assurance panel is now in place to ensure that the work is subject to rigorous, ongoing challenge by experts, as well as major period reviews by the OGC process.
It doesn't. NO2ID has said all along that the "ID card" scheme was a camouflage for the introduction of a national database. We've pointed out ministers misrepresenting the plan at every turn. And we don't think even now that they will abandon their control-freak fantasy of rule by database.
Which is why we want the Identity Cards Act 2006 and all its 'registration' powers repealed.
Meanwhile the scheme is still rolling. If you want to see it dead you can help kill it by renewing your passport NOW, to forestall a database built by stealth.
Did you know that, from October of this year, as preparation for the ID scheme, ALL first-time passport applicants will have background checks and be interviewed by officials at one of the government's 69 new 'enrolment centres'? This will include your children as they reach 16. Before long it will include you too, when you renew your passport. And you will be fingerprinted as well.
So, unless you need it soon, you should renew your passport NOW. If you wait till autumn, you risk giving up personal data to be used for the government identity database. Pay £51 for a 10-year passport while you can. The charge for ID registration and a record for life will be at least £93. The website www.renewforfreedom.net explains in more detail. There's a fact-sheet there that you can download and pass on to others.
If you are put on the ID system, you will be exposed immediately to all the dangers, explained here. It could be sooner than you think.
Show the government how many people want to stay out of the ID scheme, and buy time while NO2ID works to abolish it. Say "No" now. Renew your passport this Summer.
*including the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and the Green Party; the Stop the War Coalition and the Countryside Alliance; Liberty, Privacy International, Our World Our Say, Globalise Resistance, The Freedom Association, Statewatch and the New Alliance.
The Home Office is considering plans that will effectively extend the National Identity Register (NIR) to include children under 16. The final report of the "let's just add this to the NIR" Citizen Information Project (CIP) recommends that the Children's Index database currently being developed by the Department for Education and Skills be turned into a full child population register, eventually giving central and local government shared access to a database of every citizen from birth to death.
The CIP was an Office for National Statistics project set up with private sector partners and backed by the Treasury. When it became obvious that the British public would be even less happy about paying for two National Registers than one massive one, it was decided to wrap CIP into the Home Office's ID scheme - at an additional cost of £200 million.
The 'significant' cost savings claimed in the report, £635 million, are measured over 10 years and do not start until around 2021 when the CIP expects the NIR to be fully populated.
Meanwhile, it appears that ID cards are to carry medical details, despite repeated assurances to Parliament during the passage of the Bill that this would never happen. There is no provision in the Act for such information, once added to the Register "at the request of the individual", to be removed.
Ominously, Home Office minister Andy Burnham is quoted as saying, when asked if HIV-Aids victims would be encouraged to disclose their status: "We are not considering that at this stage."
So what other highly sensitive personal information would the Home Office consider adding at some later stage?
Less than two weeks after the Identity Cards Act 2006 became law, the 'function creep' predicted by NO2ID, the London School of Economics and a host of other experts has already begun.
A Home Office spokesperson, reported in the Observer, says that the National Identity Register (NIR) which the Government claims is being introduced 'to back up ID cards' may be used to help gather more speed camera fines.
Pleased with this new money-making wheeze, the Home Office has also announced another - confirming that it will be making a charge every time someone checks your details on the Register. Even the CBI has begun to smell a rat...
Yes, you heard right. Not only will you be forced to hand over your fingerprints and lots of personal information, and be made to pay for the privilege. Not only will you be fined if you don't keep your records up to date, and made to pay for a lost, damaged or stolen card. But every time someone checks your details on the Register, the Government will make money.
Phil Booth, National Coordinator of NO2ID, said: "So much for tackling serious crime and terrorism! Clearly the ID card is intended to become nothing less than a spy in your pocket, and your record on the National Identity Register - rather than 'protecting' your identity - is to provide the Government with ever more convenient methods of screwing money out of you."
Mocking Parliament and the British public, the Home Office chose to set up a new government agency to run its National Identity Register scheme on April 1st - less than 48 hours after manoeuvring its Bill onto the statute books.
When completed, the Register will be a giant database storing 50 categories of officially "registrable fact" about every person over 16 living in the UK - who will be obliged to keep the UKIPS informed of any changes on pain of cash penalties.
NO2ID decided to pay a visit to the 'all new' United Kingdom Identity and Passport Service's offices near Victoria Station in London.
Phil Booth, National Coordinator of NO2ID, said: "Charles Clarke started by sneering at the public, saying anyone who opts out of the scheme is "foolish". Now the Home Office shows its utter contempt for the Parliamentary process by having a 'new agency' ready to open, and choosing April Fools Day - a Saturday - to do it.
This joke agency is going to nationalise you and rent your identity back to you with your passport. What a hoot for Mr Clarke! What fools we are to resent it!"
An anonymous UKPS - sorry, UKIPS - worker, on viewing Billy the clown's antics, said: "That pretty much sums it all up, really".
Photo courtesy of Jess Hurd, www.reportdigital.co.uk.
The government claims that 73% of people asked were in favour of ID cards, but two thirds of those same people were not aware of what the introduction of the cards actually involved. Here is a glimpse...
ATTEND an appointment to be photographed, have your fingerprints taken and iris scanned, or be fined up to £2500. Additional fines of up to £2500 may be levied each time you fail to comply until you submit to these procedures.
PROMPTLY INFORM the police or Home Office if you lose your card or it becomes defective, or face a fine of up to £1000. If you find someone else's card and do not immediately hand it in, you may have committed a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or a fine, or both.
PROMPTLY INFORM the National Identity Register of any change of address or face a fine of up to £1000 (you will supply evidence of your previous addresses, not just your current address).
PROMPTLY INFORM the National Identity Register of significant changes to your personal life or any errors they have made or face a fine of up to £1000. You may also be obliged to submit to being re-interviewed, re-photographed, re-fingerprinted and re-scanned, or face a fine.
PAY between £30 and £93 (or more) to be registered, with further charges possible to change your details and to replace a lost or stolen card.
When ID cards were introduced in this country during World War II, they had three functions. By the time they were abolished in 1952 they had 39 administrative uses. So what won't we be able to do without an ID card, according to Government plans? We'll be prevented from renting or selling a home or staying in a hotel. We won't be able to buy a car or a mobile phone; open or use a bank account; travel abroad; register with a doctor; get education; work or run a business; (officially) live or (officially) die...
Yesterday, under cover of yet another meaningless 'concession', it managed to pass the Identity Cards Bill. If the Home Office has its way, you will be forced to register on its Big Brother database when you renew your passport or any other official document that the Government chooses to 'designate' (your driving licence, a police CRB check certificate, a student loan form...).
You may hear that you can 'opt out' of having the card until 2010 - the Government will charge you a penalty for doing this, and put all your details on the Register anyway.
Should New Labour win the next election, Charles Clarke says the ID scheme will be compulsory for everyone. Official control of your personal information with enforced charges. An Identity Tax wrapped up in a License to Live.
Expect more spin, lies, and broken promises. £30 to register? Think again - Clarke says he is going to have to 'reconsider' his figures.
NO2ID will be intensifying its activities in the coming weeks and months. We aren't going away. Now is the time to get involved. If we want to stop this, we can do it...
The fight goes on. Say NO to ID.
Lord Armstrong of the Crossbench peers has tabled an opt-out amendment - i.e. you choose whether you want to be entered onto the National Identity Register or not, when you renew your passport or other designated documents - that is expected to gain broad support in the Lords on Tuesday 28th March.
The Identity Cards Bill will officially join the ranks of the most controversial Bills of New Labour's time in office if the Lords bounce it back to the Commons. Only three other Bills have made it to round five of ping-pong, and these were the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2004-05, European Parliamentary Elections Bill 1997-98 and the European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill 2003-04.
In a heated debate on Monday 13th March, Charles Clarke was variously accused of being "flawed, fundamentally wrong, and trying to deceive us", "riding roughshod over common sense and justice" and "intellectual dishonesty on a grand scale". The Government Whips nevertheless managed to claw their majority up to 33, and the Bill 'pinged' back to the Lords.
On Wednesday 15th, after an equally passionate debate, the Lords reinstated their Amendments 16 and 22 - on allowing passport applicants to choose whether or not they wish to be entered on the National Identity Register - with a majority of 35. This represented quite a drop from the previous vote (maj. 61), however the focus of the debate wasn't really on ID cards but rather on the Government's insistence that the Lords just give it its way. They didn't, but quite a few Crossbench peers seem to have given the Government the benefit of the doubt when it comes to voting against the will of the elected chamber - please help us to try to change that at the next 'pong'. Write to your 'parochial Peers' this weekend.
On Thursday 16th, the Bill 'pinged' the Commons again. Described as "an exercise in elected dictatorship", the Government was accused of "ramming through illiberal legislation" and did just that. With a significantly reduced turn-out - almost 60 fewer MPs voted than on Monday - it achieved a majority of 51 to send the Bill back to the Lords again. This was, however, a slimmer margin than that it achieved on the 'glorification' of terrorism clause in the other Bill that it has decided to shove through alongside ID cards. Clearly the Government will try anything to link ID cards and terrorism in the public mind, now that they've lost the argument.
NO2ID's recent ICM poll was mentioned frequently in the debate. Finally, the Home Office admits that public support has fallen drastically - but, in an act of blatant hypocrisy, tries using this as a justification for pushing the Bill through!
So where are we now?
The Bill returns to the Lords on Monday, 20th March, when the Lords will vote on another 'pong' (something certainly stinks...) in their third attempt to remove "stealth compulsion" from the scheme. Only three Bills have made it to round five of ping-pong since Labour came to power - so expect even more pressure and a new 'compromise' amendment, as the Lords try to pin the ultimate falling of the Bill onto the Commons.
Shown up for lying in its manifesto, desperate not to lose any more ground, and with public opinion slipping, the Government is trying to steamroller the Identity Cards Bill through Parliament as quickly as possible.
The Bill hits the Commons again on Monday 13th March, and the Lords on Wednesday 15th. The stakes are high, and the Parliament Act threatens, but there is something you can do. Write to your 'parochial Peers'.
At Third Reading, the Lords insisted that entry on the National Identity Register should be genuinely voluntary by 186 votes to 142 - a majority of 44. This week, after NO2ID supporters had written thousands of letters to peers, the same vote was won by 227 to 166 (majority 61). Maybe not all the 41 extra votes against creeping compulsion were down to letters written, but we know that some of them were.
Peers are men and women of principle and wide experience, many of whom see themselves as defenders of our long-held and hard won liberties. We need them to know that the British public supports their stand against compulsory registration.
We have very little time, so please write now. Click here for details.
Some people have asked why NO2ID is encouraging peers and MPs to vote for an amendment to make registration on the National Identity Register voluntary, saying a voluntary ID card is as bad as a compulsory one. This is a good question.
NO2ID remains entirely opposed to the government's ID scheme. But few people understand that the Home Office idea of "voluntary" means compulsion via 'designated documents'. Making a stand on this exposes the fraud on the electorate at the very outset of the scheme.
At this stage in the Parliamentary process there are very few options, but we do know that the government cannot accept such an amendment without derailing their whole plan, which relies on hidden compulsion. Very few people will enjoy the interrogation of their entire life that the scheme requires, so to make it properly voluntary will quickly kill it as the guinea pigs tell their stories and rejection spreads. Meanwhile, each refusal by the Lords draws the attention of more people to the true nature of government plans.
Far from modifying or toning down our opposition, this is just one means by which we can build future resistance.
In yet another stinging defeat for the Government on ID cards, the House of Lords voted by 227 to 166 (a majority of 61) to sever the link between renewing or applying for a passport or other official documents and being forced to register for an ID card.
In the days leading up to the vote, NO2ID and its supporters received dozens of responses from peers stating their intention to vote against 'creeping compulsion'. The Tories, Liberal Democrats and other anti-ID allies kept true to their word, and some now predict a "protracted conflict" with the Government.
Our sincere thanks and congratulations to all of you who wrote letters or e-mails - literally thousands must have been sent in under two weeks. A fantastic effort that clearly has not gone unnoticed!
Monday's debate focussed heavily on the massive database behind the cards and the passport itself, not least because of the Home Office's 'convenient' announcement of the launch of biometric ePassports. The Bill, however, does not limit creeping compulsion only to passports. If the Government turns down the Lords' amendment again - which is extremely likely - it will be confirming its unswerving intention to use potentially any official document to force people to register for an ID card.
Home Office projections show that they already intend to 'designate' the police (CRB) check for employment, driving licences and possibly even student loan forms in the first few years of the scheme. This would deny ordinary law-abiding people and their families their right to travel abroad, drive a car, work or volunteer, even to study and gain qualifications unless they submit to compulsory Registration during what New Labour promised at the election would be an initially voluntary phase.
If the Government is willing to mislead the public this badly over the very first steps towards ID cards, can its ID scheme be trusted at all?
Despite his failure to show at the last vote in the Commons, and the slashing in half of his Government's majority at that vote, Tony Blair claims that he's 'won the argument' on ID cards.
Show us the evidence, Tony.
Two independent polls within a week, one by ICM for NO2ID and one by YouGov for the Telegraph show just how desperately out of touch the Prime Minister really is. Just 52% of the British public now support ID cards - a greater than 20% gap between properly-conducted public polls and the Government's claims of 73% or higher support. Mr Blair clearly can't be trusted on the simplest question about ID. Almost a year after they were originally asked, the Home Office still hasn't published the questions from the 'survey' on which his current claims are based.
ICM's poll indicates that over eight and a half million people now believe that ID cards are a very bad idea. Hardcore opposition has tripled since the Bill was first introduced, and the YouGov poll clearly shows that the massive majority now understand the many risks and dangers to law-abiding citizens inherent in the scheme, even if the Prime Minister doesn't. His credibility in tatters, Mr Blair tries telling us that he's not destroying our liberties.
Half the country begs to disagree.
This Monday, 27th February at 8pm, Channel 4's Dispatches will be showing 'Stealing Freedom' by political commentator Peter Hitchens. The programme documents how the recent avalanche of 'security' legislation has affected the civil liberties of ordinary people in Britain.
Ordinary people like those who joined our lobby outside Parliament just two weeks ago, to protest New Labour's draconian ID legislation.
In advance of the first broadcast, NO2ID asked Peter Hitchens what his programme would be saying about the ID card scheme. This is his reply:
"In the name of security and safety, the liberties of the British people are being salami-sliced away. We are more snooped upon, watched and recorded than ever before, and even our thoughts are policed, while crime and disorder continue largely unchecked.
The most dangerous of all these measures is the scheme for identity cards, which presume that we are all potential offenders against the parental state. Yet, while we are much less free, we do not seem to be any safer."
Just when the Government would have everyone believe that ID cards are a done deal, Charles Clarke has been forced to reveal the £32 million of taxpayers' money that he has already spent on them, before Parliament has even approved the scheme - let alone passed the Identity Cards Bill.
Even while the highly controversial Bill was receiving a battering from all sides in Parliament, Home Office spending leapt to a staggering £63,000 per day, as far back as the summer of 2005. This, as it is reported that over 200 police officers in Manchester alone are being made redundant due to budget cuts. No wonder the Home Office doesn't want to be made to account for itself, and point blank refuses to have its ID cost estimates independently checked.
The Home Office is financially out of control.
The National Audit Office has already said so and, in the context of these latest revelations, Baroness Noakes' amendment requiring a full set of properly audited estimates for the ID scheme to be placed before Parliament before it can proceed would seem to be pure common sense. Frank Dobson, and all those MPs who supported his watered-down amendment in the Commons last Monday, should be ashamed of themselves for acting so blatantly against the interests of the British people.
For if the Home Office has nothing to hide, what does it have to fear?
The Chancellor's last minute cheerleading attempts for ID cards were not only a transparent attempt to raise his public profile by posturing on 'national security', but a complete reversal of his previous position.
When first mooted in 2003, the most vocal Cabinet opposition to Blunkett and Blair's ID cards came from Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, the then Trade and Industry Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, and... Gordon Brown. Throughout the whole ID debate, Mr Brown has sat on the sidelines saying nothing more than, "they've got to pay for themselves". Now suddenly he's all for them.
The new 'gung-ho' Gordon wants to throw caution to the wind. The government hasn't yet passed the law that will nationalise our identities, when the Chancellor announces his plan to part-privatise them. And as Professor Ian Angell, from the London School of Economics, says:
"Any companies involved in IT should stick their snout in the trough now, because it's going to be a gravy train."
Mr Brown has obviously decided to let the British taxpayer foot the ID bill after all.
Gordon Brown was handed the poisoned chalice of ID cards on Monday, while Tony Blair conveniently found himself 'stranded' in South Africa. Desperate to redeem themselves after their recent humiliation on the race and religious hatred vote, the Government Whips pulled out all the stops to prevent the third in a series of civil liberties defeats for New Labour.
Despite losing every argument and breaking their manifesto promise, the Government were able to contain the rebellion from their backbenches and, with their majority slashed in half again, they reinstated the 'creeping compulsion' power to designate documents.
Using this convenient loophole, the Government would be able to force 90% or more of the population onto the National Identity Register and make them pay for an ID card when they renew their passport, or any other official document that the Home Secretary chooses. Head of the queue are likely to be those who require a CRB certificate for their job - such as teachers, nurses, carers, caretakers, hospital cleaners, even volunteers.
The Bill now returns to the Lords, where they will decide whether or not to insist on their original amendments. The Bill has not passed yet, and sustained public outcry may stiffen the resolve of peers as they come under increasing pressure from the Government.
Congratulations to the members of NO2ID Inverness who travelled to London to present the results of their Highland street poll to Number 10 recently. Mel and crew (not wearing their NO2ID T-shirts) asked around 400 ordinary members of the public to cast a simple vote for or against ID cards.
The result? 70% voted NO, and just 30% YES.
The Government has lost the debate on ID. Its only argument is 'Trust in me.' Yet it has lost the trust of the British public. And with its shifting excuses, blatantly spurious figures, evasion of valid questions, and outright deception, it deserves to lose the trust of Parliament, too.
Tony Blair and his Whips are doing all they can to force the Identity Cards Bill through and avoid a hat trick of civil liberties defeats. The opposition parties will be out in force, but it is vital that MPs of every party realise just how important next Monday's votes are to their constituents... i.e. YOU!
Just a few days before the Third Reading of the ID cards Bill in the House of Lords, the Home Office has made a surprise announcement of a new figure for the cost of 'identity fraud'.
The claim is it has increased from £1.36 billion (the much-debunked 2002 Cabinet Office figure) to £1.72 billion over the past four years. Actually, their total comes to a daftly 'precise' £1,726,078,564 - you can check out the official breakdown for yourself.
Significant sections of this are admitted as pure guesswork, but still offered to three-figure precision: £215 million for 'missing trader VAT fraud' and £395 million for money laundering are added to the total, despite the figures being unsubstantiated and "for illustrative purposes". APACS, the UK payments association, says the true cost of identity theft in banking is £36.9 million: the Home Office gets £508.4 million by saying all credit card fraud is ID theft. Debunked again!
Of course, we already know that the Home Office is no good with figures. The National Audit Office just found huge discrepancies in its accounts and refused to sign them off.
The fraudulent figure is there for the headline. To prop up ministers' wishful assertions that ID cards are value for money because they will prevent identity fraud. They won't. Biometric ID cards can do nothing to stop criminals from stealing your details and using them over the internet or phone. In fact, by collecting a large range of personal data and indexing them; and then supplying 'verification' to any organisation that asks, the Home Office is providing the tools for a much more serious identity theft problem. You can easily cancel and replace a misused credit card. Good luck cleaning up an official database.
It was possible to learn from the US experience, where the ubiquitous Social Security Number (SSN) has made identity thieves' jobs so much easier. But as the latest work shows, the Home Office has trouble distinguishing fact and fiction.
Government desperation to force the Identity Cards Bill through at any cost is starting to show. Now, with utter contempt for logic or decency, they play the "paedo" card in the tabloids.
In a transparent attempt to milk the scandal in the Department of Education for political advantage, Home Office minister Andy Burnham MP told the Mirror:
"The National Identity Register and the ID card could have a major role to play in improving how we vet and identify those who work with children. Our ID card system will bring extra security to workplaces across the country and give parents confidence that people in positions of trust are who they say they are."
But why should this have any advantage over existing Criminal Records checks? It wouldn't affect those without records. As one of the policemen among our supporters asked, "Does he seriously believe that every school is going to be equipped with an iris scanner or fingerprint experts so that every time they take on a teaching assistant, dinner lady or boilerman they can be checked against the biometrics on the NIR?
ID cards are not magic, minister.
As for making our children safer, this is contemptible spin from a government that is creating the Children's Act index - which will make details of the life of every child in the country available to tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of officials and IT staff - and with the National Identity Register wants to make sure anybody with a plausible excuse can find out reliably where you live.
SURVEILLANCE FEARS SURFACE
The media and MPs have begun to pick up on the contactless chip technology that will be part of ID cards and the new 'biometric' passports. What arouses concern is the idea that they may be scanned at a distance. But what's the risk of temporary snooping compared with the real threat? Let us hope the same people soon grasp that what matters is the database. A permanent record of every use of the card or its number, tying all official records together and tracing out your entire life - the US government idea of 'Total Information Awareness' in spades - would give anyone with access to the database extraordinary power: an all-seeing eye.
After refusing the Home Office a blank cheque for their ID cards scheme last week, the Lords have dealt another devastating blow to the government's plans - deciding by a convincing 186 votes to 142 that entry on the National Identity Register should be genuinely voluntary.
Peers also established that a separate Act of Parliament would be required before ID cards could be made compulsory. The votes were just two of a series of successful Conservative and Liberal Democrat amendments, also supported by cross-bench peers, aimed at making sure the British people have a choice over who controls their identity.
Applauding this continued carving up of the ID cards Bill, Phil Booth, NO2ID's National Coordinator said:
The Home Office is demanding the right to twist arms. It wants to force law-abiding citizens to surrender their privacy by refusing them passports, driving licences and other vital documents unless they "volunteer" to be numbered and tracked on a nationalised database.
The Lords are merely holding Tony Blair and New Labour to their own manifesto promise - a truly voluntary system to begin with. If the Government won't keep its word to voters even at this stage, how can it be trusted with control of our identities?"
Controversy continues to grow over the Government's refusal to publish full cost estimates for their ID proposals, or even a detailed breakdown of how they have arrived at their now almost universally derided "£584 million per year" figure*.
The Home Office have been forced to admit that this excludes setup costs - e.g. hundreds of millions or more to create the National Identity Register - and allows nothing for integration with other systems, representing even more billions that would have to be spent before other Government departments, Local Authorities or private sector companies could make checks on the Register or even read an ID card.
All of which is sweet music to the ears of the big IT suppliers.
A new report from Corporate Watch blows the lid on what promises to be one of New Labour's biggest ever gravy trains. The report analyses several likely prospects, uncovering some dodgy pedigrees: serious mismanagement, cost overruns and large scale system failures. For example, EDS (in trouble for the tax credits and CSA fiascos) and Siemens Business Services, who managed to screw up both the Passport Agency and IND systems.
It also reveals how deep in the trough PA Consulting (who recommended Capita for the disastrous CRB contract that had kids turned away from schools without teachers and which well over doubled the price of a police check, that ID cards are now conveniently supposed to 'make more efficient') already have their snouts buried. Awarded a £12 million contract in 2004 to help develop the 'business case' and tender it out, their contract had ballooned to over £18 million in just over a year. The Home Office obviously need a lot more help than they thought, and clearly aren't above spending tens of millions of taxpayers' money before they even pass the legislation.
So we thought we'd set up our own 'Home Office Watch', in an attempt track down and hold to account those responsible for the ID card scheme as they go around the country trying to drum up 'users', or schmooze with potential suppliers. Check out our 'Events' panel [right] for upcoming dates and locations. Some, if not most, of these will be paid entry only - the Home Office won't talk to just anybody, you know! - but if you hear of any ID-related conferences, seminars or meetings with Charles Clarke, Tony McNulty, Andy Burnham, Katherine Courtney, Stephen Harrison or anyone identified as a member of the 'Home Office ID cards programme team' advertised as a speaker then please send full details to with as much advance notice as possible.
It is, after all, our money that they are spending.
*You may hear ministers - when they aren't desperately trying to slag off the LSE report - refer to a 'KPMG review', which they claim verifies their figures. Unfortunately, as the extract published on the Home Office site makes clear, even KPMG only got to look at 60% of their costings and were asked only to comment on the cost methodology, not the figures themselves.
As predicted, Government plans to introduce ID cards were dealt not just one but a series of blows in the House of Lords on the first day of Report stage.
The first serious setback for the government came as peers voted 237 to 156 to force ministers to present fully audited cost estimates for their ID proposals to Parliament before any scheme can come into effect. Two further amendments, one demanding a secure and reliable method of recording and storing citizens' personal data and another limiting the potential for ID cards to be required for accessing public services, were passed by large majorities.
Responding to the defeats, Phil Booth, NO2ID national coordinator, said:
"The Government are attempting legalised identity theft. They want to take some of our most personal data and not only charge us for the privilege, but charge others for checking it. The Home Office's proposed scheme would create a huge new State monopoly, funding the systematic surveillance of the British people. We applaud the peers who have brought the Government to account."
Report stage continues next Monday, when peers will vote on more amendments, including several to eliminate 'backdoor' compulsion - preventing the Home Office from piggybacking registration for ID cards onto passports and other official documents. Despite New Labour's manifesto promise that the ID scheme would initially be voluntary, the Bill as it currently stands would give people no choice but to submit to being registered when they renew their passports, or face heavy fines. Driving licenses and other documents could also be 'designated', in order to force more people onto the National Identity Register.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Home Office minister Andy Burnham tried to bluster their way out of what can only be seen as humiliating defeats, but their excuse of "commercial confidentiality" and reliance on a KPMG report that they still refuse to release in full convinced no-one. Mr Clarke's insistence that support for ID cards has increased shows just how out of touch the government has become. Every major poll since the Bill was first introduced has shown the progressive collapse in public trust and rising opposition as details of the scheme emerge.
"The general public will rise up against it [the ID card scheme] when they see exactly what is involved. Whoever is in power then - if we have a government foolish enough to proceed with this idea - will feel the electoral backlash." - Lord Stoddart of Swindon, Committee Stage in the House of Lords.
With crucial votes due on ID Cards in a Report Stage that begins next Monday, Parliamentary opponents have been stiffening their resolve and sharpening their knives to carve into the Bill. Indications are that peers will challenge the Government on both the cost and the fact that registration will be compulsory for over 80% of the population from the outset, despite Labour's manifesto promise that said ID cards would initially be voluntary.
There is also serious concern that the Identity Card Bill allows for repeated 'civil penalties' of up to £2500 for refusal to register on the database. The Government - desperate to avoid the possibilities of 'ID card martyrs' - is weaselling around by insisting these are not fines, and denying that prison sentences could result. The fact is, you could have your house and valuables taken from you and still find yourself in prison if you continue to refuse to register for an ID card.
Politicians including Simon Hughes, president of the Liberal Democrats and potential leadership candidate, Matthew Taylor MP and Lynne Wood, Plaid Cymru Member of the Welsh Assembly, are clearly aware of this. In signing NO2ID's pledge refusing to register for an ID card, Hughes was adamant saying:"Sooner or later, they'll be driven to require people who refuse to go along with ID cards to go inside," he said. "If necessary, I am absolutely ready to do so."
The Scottish, Welsh and London elected assemblies have all passed motions against the identity scheme. There is entrenched opposition by members of all parties in all Houses and from every end of the land. The Conservatives' shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, has previously pledged that he would repeal outright any ID card laws in the event of a Tory government, and the new leader of the Conservatives, David Cameron, has expressed to NO2ID his rejection of the scheme.
Come on in ID cards... your time is up.
Scrutiny of the ID cards Bill has begun in earnest in the House of Lords, with some extraordinary statements being made by New Labour peers. On the opening day of Committee, and in a complete reversal of the Government's position that ID cards will not be a significant change, Lord Gould of Brookwood told peers:
"...it would help if they respected the fact that the Bill and the identity cards represent the future: a new kind of freedom and a new kind of identity."
Has he been reading too much George Orwell? This sounds like pure newspeak to us...
Tony Blair's former pollster then went on to claim that 73% of the public want ID cards, based on Home Office research done in January and February of 2005. He has obviously ignored every major opinion poll since then - they all show support for ID cards collapsing as details of the scheme emerge. The latest, published by ICM this week, shows that public opposition has now risen to almost 50%.
Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the most famous 'terrorist' plot in English history, the citizens of Lewes, East Sussex chose the Home Secretary as their 'enemy of the bonfire' for his leading role in the Government's assault on civil liberties. Tens of thousands of visitors and residents of the historic county town cheered on this massive two fingers aimed squarely at the deeply illiberal, unjust and unjustified ID cards Bill and the man now most closely identified with it.
The 20 foot high effigy of Charles Clarke 'ID branding' a citizen on the buttocks was paraded through the streets, before being exploded with fireworks as a part of the traditional bonfire celebrations.
Meanwhile in Parliament, the Government faced its biggest backbench rebellion to date - on anti-terror legislation. And Tony Blair's future began to look increasingly uncertain, after the second resignation within a year of one of his closest cabinet allies, David Blunkett, who originally introduced the ID cards Bill.
NO2ID continues to lobby hard in the Lords, receiving several mentions in the recent Second Reading debate. Our evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights was quoted and our submission reproduced in full in their final report, which - like the Lords Constitution Committee's report - reaffirmed and strengthened their previous criticisms of the Bill.
Intrepid NO2ID supporters braved the October air to make the point that even those with nothing to hide have plenty to fear from the impending Big Brother state.
The Third Reading debate later that evening revealed just how weak and damaged the Government's case is. Despite all the misleading leaks in the media, their majority was reduced again - to just 25*. There will be a real battle in the Lords.
But we cannot afford to be complacent. Now educating public opinion and mobilising people across the country is more important than ever. NO2ID will continue our lobbying activities in Westminster, but we need to wake the nation. A public outcry will kill the Bill.
The Home Office plan is still for an Identity Cards Act to be law by January. With your help NOW we can prevent that. Please donate or become a member - £25 pays for around 500 leaflets, £75 buys the stamps to mailshot 100 Peers, and every penny counts.
*The Bill was opposed by MPs of all parties across the House. NO2ID are grateful to all those who opposed the Government, and would like to extend special thanks to the Labour rebels: Diane Abbott, Michael Clapham, Katy Clark, Jeremy Corbyn, Gwyneth Dunwoody, Mark Fisher, Paul Flynn, Neil Gerrard, Ian Gibson, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, Glenda Jackson, Lynne Jones, Robert Marshall-Andrews, John McDonnell, Albert Owen, Linda Riordan, Clare Short, Alan Simpson, Geraldine Smith, John Smith, David Taylor, Robert Wareing, David Winnick and Mike Wood.
NO2ID supporters have been getting in the news recently, successfully tracking down junior minister Andy Burnham and the Home Office’s ‘secret’ biometrics roadshow as it travels the shopping centres of the UK. Check out our discussion forum for details of what happened and links to TV and other coverage.
Mr Burnham ‘returned the favour’ on the Monday of Labour party conference, making a surprise appearance – and getting a grilling at – NO2ID’s fringe meeting.
Campaigners wearing Matt Buck’s ID tragedy masks gathered in Brighton, calling on Labour MPs to Speak Up! before the Third Reading of the Identity Cards Bill, expected later this October. Thousands of NO2ID leaflets were distributed to conference delegates, many of whom expressed their support for the campaign.
Thanks to everyone who has organised or made it to one of these events. If you would like to make your own ID tragedy mask, printable artwork can be downloaded from our Resources and Fun section.
Their benefits have been “oversold”, over half the country thinks they are a bad idea, and one in three people believe they will reduce their personal freedom.
Almost no-one wants to pay for ID cards - including Gordon Brown.
No wonder Home Office minister Andy Burnham has been forced to kick off the first leg of a seven date ID road show in Manchester today. The government spin machine is shifting into high gear as they prepare to push their increasingly unpopular and widely discredited ID scheme through Parliament again this Autumn.
. If they are holding promotional events in secure locations with minimal pre-publicity, it seems like the Home Office may need a lesson in public relations.
In the usual spirit of debate and openness, the Home Office are not giving much notice of where the roadshows will take place. Events are scheduled for Dudley, Newcastle, Bristol and Southampton. Please if you hear when and where (precisely) they will be.
Charles Clarke has drawn howls of protest from his constituents after stating in Norwich’s Eastern Daily Press that "the Big Brother society is already here and my job is to control it."
Around 200 people signed letters protesting against the Home Secretary’s comments. [read more]
It's nice when you are proved right.NO2ID have been saying from the outset that the Government have been making outrageous and unjustified claims for their ID scheme. Last week the Minister for ID cards, Tony McNulty, agreed - confirming his earlier comments that the Government had “oversold” the benefits of ID cards. [More]
The bomb attacks on London on Thursday 7th July were a terrible shock to all, and NO2ID's sympathies go to the victims and their families and friends. The reaction has been common sense. Londoners carried on, and the reactions from political leaders were measured, resolute, and sane. Britain has not panicked.
Prime Minister Tony Blair, when told the news in Gleneagles, said:
“It is important that those engaged in terrorism realise that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world. Whatever they do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.”
Charles Clarke, Home Secretary, acknowledged that ID Cards would not have been decisive in preventing the outrage.
NO2ID welcomes this. Less responsible fans of ID cards have begun to clamour, suggesting this tragedy is somehow a clinching fact in their support, perhaps hoping that an emotional nation is a suggestible nation. But the arguments haven't changed, and new polls show Britain has more common sense.
Even in those leading polling questions that imply that ID cards are somehow a useful weapon against terrorism, support for them is well below what it was before the election. The trend is still down.
A Telegraph/YouGov poll on the day after the attacks asked a simple, unbiased question and found that people continue to reject ID cards on a large scale: only 50% are in favour in the UK as a whole (up 5% on two weeks before)--and just 45% in London.
Tuesday night's second reading vote on the ID cards bill ended with success for the government, but with a reduced majority of only 31. 20 Labour MPs rebelled. Find out how your MP voted via The Public Whip:
"Why should I and all my family be fingerprinted like criminals and made to pay £300 each for a Government-issued identity that will give us nothing we don't already have? People just won't put up with this, and it'll become Labour's Poll Tax."
Debbie Chay, Charter88
"If the Government are serious about crime and security, they should ensure the police and security services have sufficient resources - not waste billions on an ID card scheme that won't stop serious criminals or terrorists but will inconvenience millions of law-abiding citizens."
Gareth Crossman, Liberty
"A problem with your ID card could mean you are denied access to primary services like health care or further education. Government assurances that the scheme will not discriminate against black and ethnic minorities and people of different faiths are worthless. There can be no guarantees."
Karen Chouhan, 1990 Trust
The Chinese Council of Grand Justices has just stopped in its tracks the Taiwanese government’s plans to impose compulsory fingerprinting on all Taiwanese citizens, declaring the move unconstitutional. This, after the People's Republic of China abandoned universal fingerprinting due to cost and logistics.
Not so in the UK, where the Home Office still insist that “international obligations” tie their hands, ‘forcing’ them to fingerprint and iris scan every UK resident – conveniently populating the National Identity Register that lies at the heart of the government’s ID card scheme at the same time.
This obligation is fiction: the EU requires only a facial biometric – that’s “digital photo” to you and me. And last week Ireland shelved its plans for biometric passports as the US looks like it will abandon its demands for biometric travel documents amid concerns about technical infeasibility and unreliability.
An ICM poll commissioned by NO2ID last weekend shows that public support for the government’s ID proposals, far from being “overwhelming”, has fallen over the last six months to just 55%. Labour’s “80% support” touted up to and during the election has evaporated, just as it did in Australia – where an 80:20 split in favour of ID cards shifted to 80:20 against, as citizens discovered the details of the ‘Australia card’ scheme.
Unreliable, unworkable and unconstitutional technology, no ‘obligations’ to hide behind, and plummeting public support. With terrorism and immigration no longer a credible excuse justification for the scheme, what’s next on the list? It’s the fear of the moment… identity fraud. But wait. The government’s own figures reveal on closer scrutiny that an ID card scheme costing £6billion (and the rest) would save a mere £35m a year.
As if that were not enough, experts now suggest that fraud would actually be increased by a centralised system. “The stakes are raised”, said Dr James Blackhouse, Director of the LSE’s Information Systems Integrity Group, “when the master key is cracked.” High levels of fraud in the US, where a single social security number is a universal key to most administration, provide incontrovertible evidence of this.
On May 6 th, Tony Blair said he was listening – we can only hope that he still is.
To let the government know that you will not accept this invasive, expensive and dangerous scheme, why not sign NO2ID’s new pledge?
Thousands of our supporters have pledged to resist the introduction of the national ID scheme.
Now we need to know exactly HOW you want to take action.
We intend proving that the government can never win this battle, so we've launched a competition to find the most innovative and powerful ways to (legally) throw spanners into the works. Get your imagination in gear, and your thinking caps on - the best of your suggestions, suitably anonymised, will be published in due course.
The ID Cards Bill returned to Parliament today, as bad as it ever was, and in some ways worse. Not a single change has been made in respect of the staunch criticism the Bill received from, for example, the Home Affairs Select Committee, House of Lords Constitutional Committee, Joint Committee on Human Rights and independent studies by Liberty, Privacy International and the London School of Economics.
The Bill is the same insidious legislation as the last - even the Constitutional Committee's recommendation to change its name to something more accurate has been ignored. Their Lordships thought it unusual that the two main parts of the project, the national identity database containing biometrics and personal data, and the trackable audit trail of every occasion where the details are checked, didn't receive a more obvious advert. Perhaps the Home Office thought that the ID Card, Byzantine and Broken Identity Register and Orwellian Audit Trail Bill doesn't have the same ring to it.
The costs to exchequer have leapt to £6bn, and the cost of each card has climbed to £98. Apparently the Home Office forgot to add VAT, the tax on "luxury items" now imposed on a card that will be required by law and makes life without it impossible. Looking at the cost of NHS central records database system that has more than tripled to over £18bn, it is clear that the apparatus of ID cards will be a cash-sink of Titanic proportions.
Data from last year’s UKPS biometric enrolment trials, also published today, show failure rates as high as 1 in 5 for fingerprints and 1 in 20 for iris scans - indicating that biometrics, far from being the viable and secure solution proposed by the Home Office, will cause more problems than they solve and not represent money well spent.
And the justification for this hemorrhaging of cash? The Government has from day one offered nothing but rhetoric rather than arguments . Before the election it was terrorism, now it is identity fraud, and soon it will be something else. ID cards would do nothing to stop cardholder not present card fraud over internet and phone, nor card cloning, the two main sources of fraud that banks suffer. They would not help any form of card fraud unless, for example, the credit card contained a biometric as well that must be matched to that on the ID card, and checked with every purchase.
Imagine an IT system that must continuously check every card purchase of over 60 million people against a database. Then look at Swanwick, the Child Support Agency, the Criminal Records Bureau.
A Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS) survey commissioned by Intervoice reveals that public attraction for ID Cards as a means to counter identity theft has sunk to 57 per cent, assuming for a minute that oft-quoted Home Office figures of 80 per cent present an even remotely accurate point from which to sink.
Intervoice's George Platt said:
"Even if the Government can deliver a majority for its national ID card, the impact on telephone and online identity theft will be minor. That's minor in the sense of non-existent".
Card-not-present fraud, which makes up the vast majority of fraud and theft coming under the "identity fraud" banner occurs because there is no card, card holder or identity document to check. Similarly card cloning, the most quickly rising form of fraud, would be entirely unaffected.
A card that grants so many privileges as the UK ID card would offer would be the brightest beacon for hackers, forgers and criminals across the world, pouring the vast resources of organised crime into the process of beating the system.
This is a system that receives criticism from GCHQ - even government spooks regard biometrics as untested, unproven and insecure. Smart card trials in Cornwall collapsed this month from scanner problems, and with only 50,000 people, rather than 60 million. Everyone will recall similar infrastructure meltdowns - Child Support Agency, Swanwick Air Traffic Control, Passport Agency, Criminal Records Bureau, Nafis the Police fingerprint database.... the list goes on. And on.
Backbenchers have been providing a mighty rumbling to rival the traffic in Parliament square. Many in the Tory party express deep resentment at ever having been forced to support the Bill in the first place. Labour Members, unhappy with Blair, Clarke and Blunkett's antics are finally finding their voice - sufficiently so to delay the Bill's second reading, if not actually in public.
The government's line on ID Cards - only ever a line, never an argument - seems shakier than ever. After all, if the government will exaggerate, bluster and lie during an election (Six falsehoods in 100 seconds: how the Home Secretary misled public over 'yob crackdown', Melissa Kite and Patrick Hennessy, The Telegraph, 22/05/2005), what's to stop them doing so before, after and inbetween?
As expected, the Identity Cards Bill has resurfaced in the Queen's Speech, and will no doubt be appearing before the Commons in short order.
NO2ID and Liberty supporters gathered in front of Parliament to protest, and our Big Brother surveillance team was on hand to inspect and fingerprint members of the public who had the temerity to question the government's agenda.
"The silent majority are supporting the Prime Minister. The silent majority will not be silenced", said Sion Simons MP, somewhat oxymoronically, at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting last week.
Polls already show that millions oppose being numbered, fingerprinted and assigned a state identity - and that once people find out what they are going to have to pay for the priviledge, well over 30% think ID cards are a bad idea. That's significantly more of the population than voted Labour back into office.
With such a reduced majority, enlarged Lib Dems and enraged Conservatives, the Identity Cards Bill will have a rough ride. Labour backbenchers must read their party's weakened position in the Commons as a direct call to find their voices and speak out against the most draconian and far reaching legislation to have been laid before Parliament in years.
The 2005 election has been an unusual one, by any account, from Labour activists dressed as bananas following Michael Howard around to Kilroy getting lost and campaigning in the wrong constituency.
As many predicted, Labour have been returned for a third term, though with a majority slashed to 66 from 160, and with an appalling 36 per cent of the vote, one of the lowest shares for a government since 1974. [Full election results here]
Is this the mandate to push through ID cards and constitutional change on an unprecedented scale? Is this the expression of confidence that Tony Blair was hoping to find? Mr Blair declared that despite winning he felt suitably humbled by what the voice of the population was saying and would take note and change.
NO2ID hopes that these are not empty words. Even the radical modernisers of New Labour must realise that compulsorily fingerprinting the entire UK population and thrusting upon us ID cards and iris scanning, institutionalised invasion of privacy and a ‘technocratic’ White Elephant is no way to win the trust of the electorate.
64% of people who voted yesterday, voted for parties that do not support ID cards and a National Register. The new Government would do well to remember that they are public servants, and listen.
Watch this space.
Now that nominations have closed for the General Election, and all the major parties have published their manifestoes, NO2ID have published a guide to getting the best from the hustings for the campaign. With practical advice and a range of example questions, the guide should give you all the ammunition you need for meeting your local candidates.
We have also produced a range of fliers for you to print and distribute, featuring a Winston Smith / George Orwell ID Card ('election safe' according to Electoral Commission rules). Please use these at meetings, on stalls, as posters and wherever you can get the issues across. Each flier highlights a different one of the campaign's key messages.
If you haven't yet got a copy of the splendid handbook by supporter Stuart Smith, "HOW to WIN the Fight Against the National Identity Card and the associated National Identity Register", send for one now. It is a great guide to making the arguments. All new enquirers to NO2ID are now given a copy, and it has been distributed too, through local groups. Send an A4 stamped self-addressed envelope to the usual address: Box 412, 78 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5AP with a note of your email address (so we can make sure we have your details up to date).
The Labour manifesto equates identity cards with common sense: but the government has only offered doublespeak instead of arguments for ID cards.
Under Strong and secure borders, on p. 52, the manifesto reads:
"From next year we are introducing biometric ePassports. It makes sense to provide citizens with an equally secure identity card to protect them at home from identity theft and clamp down on illegal working and fraudulent use of public services."
At the same time the Home Office ID cards unit is sending out letters that state:
"I must emphasise that we have never said that the Identity Cards Scheme is intended to be the sole solution to identity fraud, illegal immigration and working, or terrorism. The scheme is therefore not being designed to be the primary method of combating these problems."
So what is the purpose of ID cards? [more]
In a display of simply breathtaking arrogance, the government has announced that, despite failing to gain Parliamentary approval for the Identity Cards Bill, it will build a national database of biometric fingerprint records anyway.
Citing royal prerogative powers in the issue of UK passports, the government has neatly circumvented the requirement to pass primary legislation through the two Houses, instead using traditional powers of the monarch that now default to the Prime Minster. [more]
In the wake of this week’s report on electoral fraud in Birmingham, David Blunkett, the ex-Home Secretary, has suggested that the way to deal with election fraud is to enforce voter registration backed up by a compulsory identity card.Not content to stay on the sidelines having resigned his post some three or more months ago, Blunkett is still harping on about the wonders of ID cards but this time on a subject that is not included in the Bill, and has not been mentioned before – another case of ID cards being a solution grasping around desperately for a problem, and failing. [more]
On the same day that the date of the general election was announced, Charles Clarke confirmed that the ID Cards Bill would be dropped – until after the election. Instead the government is likely to concentrate on ensuring other legislation such as the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill is complete before Parliament is dissolved. [more]
From Norwich in the east to Wales in the west, local politicians and local people continue to join under the NO2ID banner to reject the government – and any future government’s – plans for a compulsory identity register.Ceredigion County Council, on the west coast of Wales, yesterday voted decisively against ID cards, voting 27-5 in favour of a motion that described ID cards as “an endemic loss of privacy and freedoms [that] will present dangers to marginalised, disenfranchised and disadvantaged people.” [more]
A group of over a dozen senior academics from the London School of Economics have released a report that condemns the government’s ID Cards Bill (PDF), stating the legislation to be “too complex, technically unsafe, overly prescriptive and lack a foundation of public trust and confidence”, and that although “the concept of a national identity scheme is supportable, the current proposals are not feasible.”
The report – prepared in consultation with representatives from business and industry, government suppliers, the DTI and Inland Revenue – is a detailed examination of the proposed government legislation, and the authors come down hard on its numerous flaws. [more]
Another week, and another fresh round of local authorities wake up to the reality of what ID cards would mean to them and their electors, and vote to reject them.
Lancaster City Council passed motion against ID cards proposed by Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Langhorn, which stated that ID cards and the register would be "an affront to civil liberties", were "likely to have a harmful effect on police and community relations" and that "there is little evidence to show that they will reduce benefit fraud, illegal immigration or crime." [more]
So the Prevention of Terrorism Act has been passed, after a day-and-night-and-day of bouncing the bill between the Houses of Parliament, scattering Lords and Commoners alike to snatch sleep on library tables and corridor benches. The Bill was passed largely as the government wanted, without a written expiration date and with only a promise to re-examine it. The deal had been done.
Will a similar fate befall the Identity Cards Bill? With broadsheet newspapers trumpeting the Bill’s imminent demise, the truth is anything could happen in the “wash-up” period before Parliament is dissolved for a general election. [more]
NO2ID looks to have achieved its first goal and has defeated the ID Cards Bill after months of public and behind the scenes lobbying.
Phil Booth, NO2ID National Coordinator, said:
"This is a great victory, although the fight goes on. We must continue to apply pressure until the Government abandons its plans altogether."
Yesterday the Scottish Parliament voted 52 - 47 to reject the Government's ID card proposals in a motion proposed by the Scottish Greens and supported by every single party, with even one Labour rebel voting against the party line.
Although the Scottish Liberal Democrats officially abstained, stating that the Green motion did not got far enough, such strong cross-party support shows a clear strength of feeling against ID cards in Scotland. It raises the spectre of the Poll Tax, that great failure of an idea that brought down Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government after widespread dissent spread south from Scotland where the tax had been trialed. [more]
Under the watchful gaze of Winston Churchill, NO2ID held an hours' vigil today (Monday) in a corner of Parliament Square that stands for liberty, privacy and freedom from the powers of the state.
In funereal black, NO2ID and Liberty mourned the short memory and lack of sense that leads this government to reintroduce ID cards and the National Identity Register, 53 years after Churchill scrapped the compulsory ID card system brought in during the war.
The proceedings were watched with interest by the authorities, including Charing Cross constabulary and the all-seeing eyes of our database state - costumes provided by Liberty depicting giant, unblinking eyes, watching me, watching you. The group was moved on after an hour and a half, with police claiming the polystyrene breastplates of the costumes, not unlike police body armour, looked like explosives. [more]
The NO2ID Voter Education Tour began on Saturday in the streets of Norwich, delivering many thousands of leaflets to voters in the city centre and in Charles Clarke's Norwich South constituency.
Joined by prospective Parliamentary candidates from the Green, Liberal Democrat and UKIP parties, and supporters from as far as Cambridge and Liverpool, NO2ID braved an uncharacteristic Norfolk blizzard to advance door-to-door through Norwich. [more]
Until the election, NO2ID will be campaigning across the country, seditiously spreading the facts about ID cards, the National Identity Register and the dangers of database Britain. Starting now!
Day 1 of the Voter Education Tour comes to Norwich, where Home Secretary Charles Clarke occupies the marginal seat of Norwich South. [more]
Monday 21st February marks the 53rd anniversary of the abolition of identity cards in the UK. As we stand on the verge of returning to a society based on suspicion rather than trust, NO2ID will be holding a vigil in Parliamant Square. Please join us. [more]
Saturday 12th saw the first NO2ID training day bring important
skills to local group activists from around the country, whose work is key
to taking the dangers of ID cards and the identity register to the public in
towns and cities across the UK. [more]
In a tense third reading of the ID Cards Bill, MPs of all parties tore holes in the proposed legislation and delivered sustained attacks on the Government’s behaviour.
But with less than 45% of MPs voting, the Bill was passed despite 36 cross-party rebels joining the Liberal Democrats and Nationalists in opposition. The Conservative’s withdrawal of support meant that despite the highly vocal criticism from their front bench, almost the entire party abstained.
“I remind the House that we are elected representatives. I am not a robot, a sheep or a button to be pressed”, said John Bercow MP, voicing outrage at the government’s contempt for Parliamentary scrutiny. [more...]
Thursday 10th February sees the third reading of the startling Identity Cards bill. Between the second and third readings we have seen major criticism of the bill on the grounds of human rights, practicality, lack of a defined purpose and escalating official estimates of the cost to the taxpayer. This criticism has come from a variety of informed sources including the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Bow Group, Liverpool, York, Oxford and Norwich city councils, the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants and a range of lawyers and academics who have studied the identity card plans in detail.
Meanwhile, the government continues to wheel out suspicious figures of public support, omitting the details that the people they ask know nothing of the plans themselves and that hardly anyone is actually willing to pay even a fraction of the likely costs.
The second reading saw 175 politicians not voting. The majority of Labour MPs voted in favour. There has been no public debate on the issue attended by anyone in favour of the cards. The bill itself has not had sufficient parliamentary time for a bill that will affect the lives of every single person to live in the UK. Should the bill pass on the third reading it will go onto the House of Lords. Should this happen we hope the unelected representatives will treat this insane bill with the gravity it deserves.
Is your MP voting for this crazy measure? Are they allowing the bill to pass through inaction or electoral strategising? Or is your MP standing up for your human rights? Check our list of MP stances to find out.
The cross party Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), comprised of MPs and peers, has delivered a bruising broadside against the proposed legislation’s many human rights failings.
Of particular concern to the JCHR is the sheer extent of the information to be held on the register, and the number of staff and institutions with access to it. Also worrying is the register's potential to contain information on an individual that they are unaware of and cannot access or change. The potential for the cards to produce or legitimise prejudice, especially if access to public and private services become dependent on the card, is also raised.
The report notes there is little connection between the stated aims of the bill, and the powers outlined within it. This pours doubt on government intentions and makes the government’s failure to explain its reasoning behind their statement that the bill conforms to the European Charter on Human Rights all the more striking.
In the same week, the wise city councillors of York, Oxford and Norwich - Charles Clarke’s constituency - have voted against ID cards, sending out a defiant message to MPs and the government. Norwich and York have become the first councils to affiliate themselves with NO2ID. In a dramatic late session, the London Borough of Southwark failed to carry a motion against ID cards - by a single vote.
The motions in all three cities lashed out at ID cards, citing the ambiguous nature of the legislation, fears over civil liberties and rising costs, and their ineffectiveness against fraud, crime and terrorism.
Norwich and York stated that ID cards would not be required for access to council services, and that the cities would refuse to cooperate with the scheme as far as possible within the law.
Mr. Clarke, in an increasingly vulnerable seat, will be discomforted by the fact that not only did his fellow Labour MP for Norwich North Ian Gibson vote against the ID Cards bill, but even Labour councillors cannot stomach voting with the government – in the spirit of Norwich university’s motto: “Do Different”.
Cllr Andrew Aalders-Dunthorne, said:
"Finger printing ordinary people and making them feel like criminals, then charging them for the pleasure, has no place in a supposedly free and liberal society. New Labour is becoming alarmingly authoritarian, to the point where even their own Council Groups cannot support them.
"ID cards are an expensive white elephant designed to pander to the Daily Mail. Once people realise what the scheme actually entails and the charge they will have to pay personally, opposition will grow."
In Oxford, Cllr Matt Sellwood (Green) successfully proposed and carried a similar motion, saying:
"This is a strong signal from local government that this scheme is dangerous and unworkable. Councils will have to bear the brunt of this scheme when ID cards are required for access to local services, and local government will have to sort out the mess when the database inevitably suffers from problems and flaws.
"Most importantly, it is the residents of Oxford who will be asked to submit to this fundamental shift in their personal freedoms, and we will not stand for it."
With local NO2ID groups in nearly thirty areas of the country, opposition to the compulsory ID card scheme is escalating. NO2ID urges people across the country to take up the issue with their councillors, and for councillors to express this opposition to their MPs.
As a litmus test, one NO2ID supporter’s unprompted afternoon collection
of 134 signatures in the town of Street, Somerset shows how deep the feeling
against ID cards runs.
If each of NO2ID’s members carried out such a poll, the number of supporters would top 800,000, a figure that MPs in marginal seats would be wise to take notice of, as political analysts suggest the upcoming General Election will be won or lost by just 900,000 swing voters.
With polls suggesting that up to 3 million people are prepared for civil disobedience rather than accept a compulsory ID card, it seems that MPs have hopelessly misjudged the mood of the public in their efforts to bring in a system described by one dissenter as “a stick with which to beat ourselves rather than an asset for our security forces”.
Unfortunately for us, Tony Blair’s Labour Legion of the Lost – zombie MPs so in thrall to their masters, so unaware of the magnitude of the legislation they are passing – consistently vote for the shortest time possible in which to scrutinise a bill which will alter fundamentally the political and civic landscape of Britain.
The ID cards bill is due to arrive at the House of Lords by the end of February, so there is still time to write or fax your MP and express your feelings. If you don’t know who your MP is Aristotle can help. You can still sign the e-petition at www.no2id-petition.net, and please join NO2ID and be part of helping us to defeat ID cards and the national identity register.
While the advertised "couple of weeks" stretched into seven, it appears that whoever wrote the Government's response could not even be bothered to read the text of our e-petition. Instead, the principled objections of the thousands who signed the petition were ignored and we were 'answered' by a mixture of rehashed spin and misinformation, and ridiculous (though highly revealing) assertions such as saying that our civil liberties are actually about being protected from fraudsters.
Far from engaging in a "wide ranging debate", the Government has consistently failed to show up and defend its position at public meetings, or by invitation to other events. When given an opportunity to respond to the genuine concerns of members of the public, it chooses instead to insult their intelligence. We do not have the space here to tackle all the factual errors and inconsistencies in the response, but have published a seperate rebuttal.
The e-petition is still running, and thousands more of you have signed it since the Queen's Speech. While the Government may wish we'd go away, the bigger we are the harder it is for them to ignore our voice. Please do sign the e-petition if you haven't already, and get friends and colleagues to sign as well - the URL is www.no2id-petition.net and a printable version will be available shortly.
Files just released to the National Archives under the '30-year rule' reveal that Harold Wilson's Labour government dismissed ID cards in 1974, even after IRA bombs in Guildford and Birmingham had killed 25 people and injured hundreds. Home Secretary Roy Jenkins condemned ID cards as "expensive and ineffective" and also feared that they would seriously infringe civil liberties. You can get more details via the link on our news page
We all know that times and attitudes change but a statement by another well known Labour politician, speaking at their Party conference in October 1995 regarding Michael Howard's plans to introduce ID cards, only serves to emphasise by how much:
"And instead of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory ID cards as the Tory Right demand, let that money provide thousands of extra police officers on the beat in our local communities."
This certainly sounds sensible, who could possibly have said it?
The future Prime Minister's rhetoric was (unsurpisingly) misleading. This is not a matter of being left or right, as a glance at NO2ID's supporter list shows.
Full transcript of Blair's speech to the Labour Congress on 3 October, 1995
The politicians may have gone on holiday, but we
With many thanks to Matt Buck (Click image for larger version)
The true purpose of the rushed and controversial ID Cards Bill was revealed last week as the Tories were forced to concede the far-right ground on law and order and immigration to Labour. But the Government’s determination to squander billions and fundamentally shift the relationship between the citizen and the state for short term political - gain risks political disaster in a potential third term.
NO2ID National Coordinator, Phil Booth, said:
Labour’s ID Cards Bill is not about spending resources wisely to safeguard the security of this country. It is all about the Labour party looking tough before election and outmanoeuvring the Tories – which they have successfully done this week. By taking this reckless course they risk a massive resistance from the 3 million or more people who have declared they would rather go to prison than submit to having ID Cards. The backlash could far exceed the impact of Stop the War and the Countryside Alliance and could turn into Labour’s Poll tax.
The NO2ID Campaign
19-21 Crawford Street
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