The Scottish Government resurrects the National Identity Register 10


The Scottish Government  has proposed to resurrect the centralised National Identity Register. The proposal is contained within a seemingly anodyne consultation entitled “proposed amendments to the National Health Service Central Register (Scotland) Regulations 2006”. In effect the  proposals set out within the consultation would transform the Scottish NHS register (NHSCR) into a full scale population register accessible to over 120 Scottish authorities, and once on this population register every citizen would be assigned a Unique Citizen Reference Number (“UCRN”). An excellent analysis of what is being proposed has been provided on the Hawktalk blog.

The parallels this scheme has to the UK wide National Identity Scheme strongly debated over a decade ago are uncanny. The 2006 Identity Cards Act that was repealed by the coalition government also allowed any public authority access to the National Identity Register “for the purpose of securing the efficient and effective provision of public services”.  The National Identity Scheme also involved the creation of a unique identifying number that could be used to index various databases together. It is clear the ‘database state’ is very much alive north of the border, and along with it the tendency to try to use computers to manage society by watching people.

Furthermore we must not forget that Scotland already has the Identity Card aspect of the repealed UK wide Identity Cards Act. The Scottish ‘National Entitlement Card is run by National Records Scotland which maintain the National Health Service Central Register.  The terms and conditions of these cards clearly explain that when you sign up to one of these cards your are prescribed a Unique Citizen Reference Number (UCRN). If these proposals go ahead this same UCRN could be used to link the entitlement card usage to the new population database they are proposing to build.

NO2ID can not overstate the seriousness of these proposals. Despite a public outcry against Identity Cards and the National Identity Scheme the Scottish Government has been working to recreate something almost exactly the same north of the border. We urgently need people to become aware of what is being proposed and take immediate political action to oppose these plans. Plans that will increase surveillance, damage privacy and the freedoms of all Scottish citizens.


10 thoughts on “The Scottish Government resurrects the National Identity Register

  • Gary Cullen

    Currently i live in Serbia though i am born and bred in Dundee Scotland here in Serbia they have these type of cards to stop people who have no right to use the health service without paying ,given the Scottish nhs is separate from the English and the English Nhs is being sold off to private company’s you will see a surge of people coming to Scotland seeking free operations rather than pay this would go a long way to stopping any abuse of our services ,you may actually find a lot of migrant workers will cross to Scotland to take advantage of it also as there is no way to get free treatment here unless your registered and have a valid health card

    • jamesbaker

      Hi Gary thanks for your comment. Throughout the campaign against ID cards and the National Identity Register we saw a shifting set of reasons proposed as to why the scheme might be beneficial. At first it was terrorism, then fraud, then it was going to be convenient to travel with instead of a passport. In recent years a new argument has emerged, and that is using such a system as a means to deny people who are not entitled to a service from accessing it.

      As a campaign we would first ask what the cost of ‘health tourism’ is to the Scottish NHS, and then consider this against the cost of the inevitable expensive IT contracts that would be issued to establish and maintain the system. You would have to consider the time and effort it took NHS staff to check people’s identities before treatment too. We haven’t seen such a cost/benefit analysis but would speculate that the cost of creating a society of constant security and identity checks might well be higher than the cost of simply treating the number of people using a service someone has determined they are not entitled to use.

    • An Interested Party

      Gary,

      For what it’s worth here’s my two pennies worth:

      There is a common error made by supporters of ID cards that they are a “magic bullet” to fix a multitude of problems. You suggest that in Serbia nobody can access the health service without an ID card and that this stops fraud. But are you sure that the Serbian ID card really is that fool proof? I doubt this is really the case. Let me give you an example of how ID cards can be defeated:

      In 2005 Belgium started issuing ID cards with a chip on them and these were at the time difficult to counterfeit. This was problem for many illegal immigrants who were working because a card was needed to open a bank account and register for work etc. What was seen after the introduction of these cards was the phenomenon of “identity sharing”. In essence an illegal immigrant shared an identity with someone who was legally registered. So for example their wages would be paid into an account owned by a legally resident person. Obviously, this individual would be taking a cut of the illegal’s wages because money makes the world go round, or at least makes sure that ID cards don’t stop it from turning.

      Remember ID cards are made by men and can be broken by men – they are not some magical panacea to for all a nations problems, contrary to what their supports will have you believe!

  • Gary Cullen

    Currently i live in Serbia though i am born and bred in Dundee Scotland here in Serbia they have these type of cards to stop people who have no right to use the health service without paying ,given the Scottish nhs is separate from the English and the English Nhs is being sold off to private company’s you will see a surge of people coming to Scotland seeking free operations rather than pay this would go a long way to stopping any abuse of our services ,you may actually find a lot of migrant workers will cross to Scotland to take advantage of it also as there is no way to get free treatment here unless your registered and have a valid health card

    • jamesbaker Post author

      Hi Gary thanks for your comment. Throughout the campaign against ID cards and the National Identity Register we saw a shifting set of reasons proposed as to why the scheme might be beneficial. At first it was terrorism, then fraud, then it was going to be convenient to travel with instead of a passport. In recent years a new argument has emerged, and that is using such a system as a means to deny people who are not entitled to a service from accessing it.

      As a campaign we would first ask what the cost of ‘health tourism’ is to the Scottish NHS, and then consider this against the cost of the inevitable expensive IT contracts that would be issued to establish and maintain the system. You would have to consider the time and effort it took NHS staff to check people’s identities before treatment too. We haven’t seen such a cost/benefit analysis but would speculate that the cost of creating a society of constant security and identity checks might well be higher than the cost of simply treating the number of people using a service someone has determined they are not entitled to use.

    • An Interested Party

      Gary,

      For what it’s worth here’s my two pennies worth:

      There is a common error made by supporters of ID cards that they are a “magic bullet” to fix a multitude of problems. You suggest that in Serbia nobody can access the health service without an ID card and that this stops fraud. But are you sure that the Serbian ID card really is that fool proof? I doubt this is really the case. Let me give you an example of how ID cards can be defeated:

      In 2005 Belgium started issuing ID cards with a chip on them and these were at the time difficult to counterfeit. This was problem for many illegal immigrants who were working because a card was needed to open a bank account and register for work etc. What was seen after the introduction of these cards was the phenomenon of “identity sharing”. In essence an illegal immigrant shared an identity with someone who was legally registered. So for example their wages would be paid into an account owned by a legally resident person. Obviously, this individual would be taking a cut of the illegal’s wages because money makes the world go round, or at least makes sure that ID cards don’t stop it from turning.

      Remember ID cards are made by men and can be broken by men – they are not some magical panacea to for all a nations problems, contrary to what their supports will have you believe!

  • Dave Bell

    How many documents do you have that are accepted for proving your name and address? Because of an eyesight problem, I don’t have a driving license any more, and it doesn’t prove you’re entitled to work in the UK anyway: that’s an old requirement. I do have a passport, but it doesn’t prove my address.

    For a long time, my name wasn’t on any utility bills. I’m not sure that a printed utility bill proves all that much, but we’re being encouraged to go over to internet billing.

    Most of Europe has identity card systems of one sort and another, which all seem to be a hangover from the days of conscription. My late father could remember his WW2 identity card number. I don’t think those cards actually proved anything.

    There are some people who have the correct documents to prove who they are, and a long list of possibilities. It’s a long list because there’s nothing universal, but it would be silly to exclude a soldier’s ID card. It’s a long list because some of them have been and gone.

    I have some sympathy with NO2ID because we’re starting from scratch, and we are going to end up paying huge fees to get on to an everything-system that is expensive, unreliable, and un-tested, yet will be assumed to be perfect.

    But is it really true that we don’t need something better than the current crazy jumble?

  • Dave Bell

    How many documents do you have that are accepted for proving your name and address? Because of an eyesight problem, I don’t have a driving license any more, and it doesn’t prove you’re entitled to work in the UK anyway: that’s an old requirement. I do have a passport, but it doesn’t prove my address.

    For a long time, my name wasn’t on any utility bills. I’m not sure that a printed utility bill proves all that much, but we’re being encouraged to go over to internet billing.

    Most of Europe has identity card systems of one sort and another, which all seem to be a hangover from the days of conscription. My late father could remember his WW2 identity card number. I don’t think those cards actually proved anything.

    There are some people who have the correct documents to prove who they are, and a long list of possibilities. It’s a long list because there’s nothing universal, but it would be silly to exclude a soldier’s ID card. It’s a long list because some of them have been and gone.

    I have some sympathy with NO2ID because we’re starting from scratch, and we are going to end up paying huge fees to get on to an everything-system that is expensive, unreliable, and un-tested, yet will be assumed to be perfect.

    But is it really true that we don’t need something better than the current crazy jumble?

  • Mr Ecks

    We own our lives and we decide who we are –not the scum of the state. We already have two commentators on here willing to role over so they can “prove who they are” to various officious pricks?

    The “Scottish Parliament are a bunch of tinpot tyrants. Under no circs should they be allowed any more power to turn Scotland into a socialistic police state.

  • Mr Ecks

    We own our lives and we decide who we are –not the scum of the state. We already have two commentators on here willing to role over so they can “prove who they are” to various officious pricks?

    The “Scottish Parliament are a bunch of tinpot tyrants. Under no circs should they be allowed any more power to turn Scotland into a socialistic police state.

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