Monthly Archives: August 2009

James Lyons writes in the Daily Mirror: Identity cards have sent government spending on City experts and consultants rocketing to £140million, figures revealed yesterday. It represents a 46% rise on the £96million of taxpayers’ cash the Home Office spent in the previous 12 months. Officials admitted much of the work was on the controversial ID cards scheme with PA Consulting, the firm most heavily involved, paid £24.5million, up from £8.4million. Deloitte & Touche, which was brought in to try to make ID cards work, pocketed £21million, almost three times the £7.7million the previous year. And Ernst & Young received £13.8million for working on the National Identity Scheme, which covers new biometric passports as well as the cards. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling, who unearthed the figures, called on ministers to drop the £5billion project, saying the money could be better spent putting bobbies on the beat.

ID Cards push fees to £140M

According to the Mirror’s leader-writer: A political consensus is building that cuts in some public services will be needed to get debt under control. But to rob the poor to pay for the mistakes of bankers is grotesquely unfair. The Government should ditch immediately half-baked proposals to claw back up to £60 a month from tenants on housing benefit who find cheaper homes. Labour won power to make the poor better off, not poorer. If the Cabinet is looking for spending cuts, it should start by axing expensive identity cards and Trident’s replacement.

Poor should not be made to pay for bankers mistakes

Chris Williams writes in The Register: Millions could be asked to provide ID card and fingerprint data to get a job under new systems being developed by the Home Office following a collapse in the accuracy of background checks. News of the plans emerged in the response to a Register Freedom of Information Act request to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Today campaigners warned it could be used to help impose ID cards through the back door. Previously, the CRB ran a small trial using passport data “aimed at accelerating and toughening-up background checks on people who want to work with children and vulnerable adults”. It carried out research about public reaction to a possible ID card-based process, but has been silent on progress since. Proposals to use ID cards are being quietly developed alongside official “research” into how to incorporate fingerprint data into employment background checks, which was alluded […]

CRB looks to ID cards to solve accuracy woes

The Orwell Diaries blog publishes entries from George Orwell’s diary daily, 70 years to the day since each entry was originally written. Also included are images of the newspaper articles he refers to. The entry for 17th August 1939 includes a copy of that’s day’s Daily Telegraph article describing preparations for the National Register which was introduced later that year, and finally abolished in 1952. For a short, readable history of identity cards in the UK during the two World Wars, see Jon Agar’s 2005 article Identity cards in Britain: past experience and policy implications, published in the journal History and Policy.

1939 news: Identity Card and number for all in war-time

Diane Abbott MP writes on the Guardian’s Comment is Free web site: DNA evidence has undoubtedly been useful in clearing up crimes of sexual violence and assault. But the government needs to adopt much stricter guidelines in retaining the DNA of innocent people. So I am pleased to be working with Liberty in holding a series of special advice clinics in Hackney to advise innocent young people how they can remove their DNA from the government’s database. If they can do it for Damian Green MP, they can do it for my young constituents.

Get the innocent off the DNA database

David Neal writes in The Inquirer: According to the UK’s Identity Minister, the Government’s ID cards won’t be worth the paper they’ll be printed on. Despite the fact that the cards are almost in UK citizens’ wallets there is still a lot of work needed to raise awareness about them and their uses, particularly outside the British Isles. In an interview with the Oldham Evening Chronicle, Lord Brett said that if holders leave the country and try to use the cards as some form of ID they will be met with blank faces and, we presume, Gallic shrugs. Lord Brett said, “When we do launch it, we want to make sure all our ducks are in a row, it is not just marketing and selling the card to people who want to have it but to make sure first of all that all the countries in Europe will accept it […]

UK ID cards will be useless in Europe

Matthew Parris writes in The Times: Licensed fraud But back to the Pyrenees, where I’ve just been talking to another English climber, a student aged 19. “Seen this,” he asked, and pulled his driving licence from his pocket. “Spot anything wrong?” I couldn’t. It looked like the real thing: one of those pinkish laminated cards, with photograph and details. The details included an age, of 21. “You can get them on the internet. A British cop or barman could spot the forgery — no hologram — but who’s going to know in West Virginia, where I’m off next month? You have to be 21 to get a drink there.” “How much did you pay?” “£20”. And our Home Secretary seriously thinks that for £20,000, someone, somewhere isn’t going to learn how to forge an ID card?

Homage to an ageing hero of Catalonia

Tom Whitehead writes in the Daily Telegraph: Tory MP Damian Green has won a battle with police to have his DNA profile removed from the national database. In a case that will prompt widespread calls for the records of hundreds of thousands of innocent people to be deleted, the shadow immigration minister successfully argued that he was an “exceptional case”. He had demanded he be erased from the system after no charges were brought against him following his arrest over Whitehall leaks last year. But the decision by Scotland Yard immediately is certain to spark fresh demands that the DNA of all innocent people should be removed. Ministers are under intense pressure to delete the records of at least 850,000 people on the database who have never been convicted of an offence.

Tory MP Damian Green has DNA profile deleted from database

Anthony Horowitz, the creator of TV programme ‘Foyle’s War’, writes in the Daily Telegraph: In fact, between 1939 and 1945, 178,000 indictable offences were created for the inhabitants of England and Wales, a figure quoted by Angus Calder in his incomparable social history, ‘The People’s War’. All of which is, of course, a gift for a crime writer. It’s been interesting to watch New Labour cobble together laws to combat the so-called war on terror, laws that have proved equally contentious and unpopular. On September 29 1939, a National Registration census led to the issue of identity cards, which were resented from the very start, a necessary evil. They were abandoned seven years after the war, in 1952. It’s always struck me how little understanding recent home secretaries have shown of the British psyche.

Foyle’s War creator on the dark side of the Second ...

Alan Johnson MP writes in the Observer about Conservative party policy: On identity cards, which they advocated at the last election, they are now in the ludicrous position of supporting the new biometric passports (which, as Gordon Brown has made clear, can be used instead of an ID card), but opposing the National Identity Register that will link the document to its owner, thus preventing identity fraud.

Conservatives really are the barbarians at the gate

Tom Espiner writes for ZDNet: The Home Office has said it is considering enlisting IT companies to test the security of its ID cards, but still refuses to meet a researcher who claims to have created a fake that would bypass security procedures. Last week, RFID security expert Adam Laurie said he had found a way to hack into the chips on the ID card, and that a series of offers to demonstrate the crack had been rebuffed by the Home Office. On Friday, the Home Office said that while it will not accept such submissions from individuals, it is considering how the security industry could contribute to tightening ID card protections. “The Home Office is considering ways to engage with the industry to show that we have a ‘gold standard’ card which cannot be changed, modified or cloned,” the spokesperson told ZDNet UK. However, Laurie said his demonstration shows […]

Tech industry could get crack at ID card security

David Moss writes in The Register about Identity and Passport Service’s proposed use of biometrics. After 6 fact-filled pages, he concludes: One thing is clear, though, and that is that biometrics cannot deliver. Identification is not feasible. Verification is laughably unreliable. And the flat earther David Blunkett is wrong. So is Tony Blair when he says that “biometrics give us the chance to have secure identity”. And so is Gordon Brown when he says that biometrics “will make it possible to securely link an individual to a unique identity”. The scale of the institutional fantasy which constitutes the NIS is grotesque. Biometrics cannot underpin the NIS and so, by IPS’s logic, the NIS cannot underpin the “interactions and transactions between individuals, public services and businesses”. Safeguarding Identity is a false prospectus – no properly managed stock exchange would allow its shares to be listed. The NIS is guaranteed to fail. […]

Collar the lot of us! The biometric delusion

According to Kable GC News: A detailed analysis of the National Identity Scheme’s costs for UK citizens by Kable suggests that the £4.95bn cost over 10 years could be reduced by £3.08bn to £1.88bn, if a future government abandoned identity cards, the National Identity Register and fingerprints on passports. The Conservative Party has pledged to cancel the cards and the register, but has not confirmed its view on fingerprints. If retained these on passports, Kable estimates the cost over 10 years would be £2.75bn, saving £2.2bn. Cancelling cards would remove the need to produce them in either case, but cancelling fingerprints in passports would make the application process cheaper, as it could involve sending photographs by post rather than using face-to-face enrolment, according to the research.

Identity scheme cancellation could save £3.1bn

Richard Edwards writes in the Daily Telegraph: The average motorist has their car journeys recorded and stored by police almost 100 times a year, new figures show, furthering concerns over the growing surveillance state. Forces across the country have expanded a car surveillance operation that will soon record up to 50 million licence plates each day. The images captured on CCTV cameras – many of innocent motorists – are stored on a police database for up to two years, enabling officers to reconstruct journeys. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that more than three billion licence plates may have been recorded nationwide in the past year. It means that the 34 million vehicles registered in Britain were captured and stored on average up to 100 times in 2008.

Average motorist caught on camera 100 times a year

Henry Porter writes in the Daily Mail about the rise of the Database State: Labour is also behind a flurry of new databases that either leech personal information from each one of us or require innocent members of the public to go through an endless rigmarole of proving themselves to the state. The scale of this project is vast. ‘The state and its agencies are amassing increasing quantities of data about its citizens,’ writes Jill Kirby, the director of the Centre for Policy Studies, in a recent pamphlet. She lists them as including the DNA database, centralised medical records and the children’s database Contact-Point. This data, she says, has ‘proliferated to levels previously unseen in peacetime Britain’. An institutionalised pessimism has taken over. The clear message of Government is that we are incapable of managing our lives and must be watched and regulated by ministers and civil servants from dawn […]

Paranoid, suspicion, obsessive surveillance – and a land of liberty ...