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back to article Is it or isn't it? Brown keeps bottling the ID card question

For the third time in four days, Gordon Brown has sown doubts about the future of compulsory ID cards for UK citizens. Speaking at prime minister's question time today, Brown confirmed that it was "policy" for ID cards to become compulsory, but added the rider that this was subject to a vote in parliament. As indeed is the case …

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Anonymous Coward

Foreign National Identity

"if someone comes to this country as a foreign national, given the worries about illegal immigration, they should carry some form of identity..."

Aren't those called "Passports"

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Anonymous Coward

no compulsion <cough>

But there will be large amounts of coercion.

Move house > sign on at new GP > where's your ID > I'm a free-born englishman > how do I know you're not a health tourist/terrorist/foreign national/bogeyman du jour, this is a local practice for local people, now piss off sonny.

If you start raving about how you pay your NI and taxes, you might get B&B at the funny farm, but care in the community would be rather more likely.

Remember you have responsibilities, as well as rights. You've got to laugh at the gall of a guy who is trying to take us back to the days of bad King John, wittering on about liberty.

To recap, the scene is:

You are in your new house.

You are ill.

You are free to apply for a non compulsory ID card, any time you like...

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Anonymous Coward

Look! Look! He's moving his lips!

"...the advantage people have from an identity card is that that information cannot be used without biometric identification..."

Poppycock. Factually incorrect. Most identity transactions will be done without reference to the biometric, same as most passport transactions will be done without reference to the biometric. Including biometric information in the card's chip merely makes it *possible* to incorporate biometric-checking.

Identity theft mostly occurs via means which don't require physical presence.

Sure, it will make the few hundred million the Government loses in benefit fraud easier to protect, but it will cost 100 times that much to implement, as well as eroding civil liberties even further.

"...we are a country that prides ourselves on liberty, in civil liberties..."

Brown, you're a fucking two-faced hypocrite, and not a very eloquent one, at that. Get up against that wall and learn how to speak so we can't be accused of shooting the ill-educated.

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What?

Brown said..

"..look we are a country that prides ourselves on liberty, in civil liberties.."

Was he high or just joking?

At least our government's civil liberties record is not quite as bad as it's record on privacy, data protection, failure of large and expensive projects, political nepotism, shady financial deals and general incompetance, corruption, dishonesty and arrogance.

Still , no worries, eh?

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Flame

Useless, bogie eating, Stalinist.....

dribbling, tax raising fool.

Quite frankly the incompetence of the man and the circus of fools he is surrounded by is frightening.

ID cards won't be canceled until the friends/cronies/suppliers have supped a few billions.

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So why...

Did I just pay nearly £80 for my shiney new passport ? Is this no longer ID ??

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Anonymous Coward

Why Biometrics

Biometrics was a buzzword, sold by companies pushing there wares. If the biometrics worked, then you wouldn't have the ID card, you'd have just the person with their walking biometrics.

There are 2 problem with them.

1. The biometrics are unreliable changing metrics (people change as they age). Hence you need the card.

2. The biometrics are not used to check each time the card is used (again if they were you wouldn't need the card!). So the biometric can say all it likes about the retina and eye colour and spacing of eyes etc. but nobody is going to repeat that check each time a service is called for that needs that card.

And since that info is on the card, they would be simply repeating the check of the card in a more complex way anyway. Any faker would crack the cards data and substitute their own (you've never made a lock that can't be broken yet, so it's stupid to imagine these cards can't be cracked).

So all the biometric data on the card does is to create a bunch of privacy issues that need not be there.

So why not just stick a little human readable picture on the card, no fancy chips and readers, no complex biometrics, nothing on the card that can be read remotely. No machine judging by some unreliable algorithm is the person matches the card.

You could still take these measurements, but there's no reason to put them on the card. Only if the card is suspected to be fraudulant do you need to double check the biometrics of the holder match those of the person the card was issued to.

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Black Helicopters

Compulsion by the back door

Given that it will be impossible to work, buy/rent a home, buy/rent a car, travel, open a bank account, etc, without an ID card.

No, you don't *have* to have an ID card as long as you're happy living on the street and getting your food out of bins.

The whole point behind Brown's assertion that ID cards are 'non-compulsory' is to reduce pressure to have them scrapped. If people (stupid people, IMHO) believe they aren't compulsory they won't object to them. By the time they discover they cannot even fart without presenting their (non compulsory) card it will be way too late.

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Unhappy

@NickJ - it's already happening

I moved twice in 12 months - the first time, I registered with a new GP practice without even visiting the surgery or providing proof of residence, my partner picked up a form for me, I signed it and she took it back.

The second time I was told that I needed to come to the surgery between certain hours on a weekday (difficult as I work in London, miles from home) and bring proof of ID (photographic) and proof of residence. I was also told that the standard registration form (downloadable from the DoH web site) wasn't acceptable and that I would have to fill out the practice's own form in the surgery "to prevent fraud". I even wrote a letter enclosing a downloaded form and my NHS number in an attempt to register, but it was sent back to me.

All the time, the surgery insisted that these requirements were imposed on them by the local PCT. Talking to the local PCT I discovered that this is not true, but attempts to resolve the issue have, so far, not been successful. Luckily there are other practices in the area that I can register with.

This may be an extreme case of hiding the fact that the practice is full, but it does show how we are being softened up for ID cards.

Someone told me that not so long ago, when you moved GP, you went to your doctor and he or she would write personally to a GP in the area you were moving to to introduce you as a patient - this sounds like a most excellent method.

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@nickj

"Move house > sign on at new GP > where's your ID > I'm a free-born englishman > how do I know you're not a health tourist/terrorist/foreign national/bogeyman du jour, this is a local practice for local people, now piss off sonny."

Surely the obvious answer is that as it's only a requirement for foreigners to have ID cards, the fact that I haven't got one shows I'm British and therefore qualify for treatment. Logical reasoning to Government Standards - beat them at their own game!

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Verbal bodyguard

Personally I think this is where retaining John Prescott as right-hand/right-jab guy, instead of Harriet 'Duchess of Chinless' Harman, would have come in handy.

Why go half-arsed with the inarticulateness when you could get a pro like Prezza to fob off all enquiries with flurries of mangled syntax and deployment of words like 'Balklands' and 'hydro-cardigans'?

But Gordon had to go and be Mr Micromanagement, didn't he? Delegate, man.

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Black Helicopters

In an English Country Garden

PCPlod (for it is he): Can I see your ID card sir

Johhny FFforiegner: No sir, indeed I am an Englishman in his fortress

PCP: Can you prove that

JF: Of course sir, I have no ID card

PCP: That's good enough for me - on your way

Sergeant Plod: Not so fast there - what's the nickname of the English RFC Captain Johhny (boy) Gillete

JF: Ah, um would it be Johnny boy

SP: Nah - its Jazza - right you're nicked

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Paris Hilton

Bring it on

Personally I like the idea of 'foolproof' ID cards

So much so that when they come in, I fully intend to get about half a dozen

I've chosen Paris, although she is more Bio Hazard than Metric

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Unhappy

Euro-politics.

"I think over the course of the next few months people will see that there is some wisdom in the argument that we have put forward for identity cards themselves."

Taking a leaf out of the Brussles approach to Democracy I see. In other words: We know it's right and therefore it is right. Anybody who disagrees with us, by definition doesn't understand it properly. We'll keep asking the question until we get the right answer, which is Yes.

Anybody who can explain to me the actual difference between a Dictatorship (We tell you what's right and you don't get a say) and Euro-democracy (We tell you what's right, you do get a say, but only if you agree with us) please feel free to try.

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dek

"foreign nationals" only eh?

Then why the fuck don't you drop the passport back to £10? Everyone knows the obscene rises over the last few years are simply so they can fudge the real cost of ID cards. This being the case why are the British public having to cover the cost for foreigners!?

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b
Flame

Not compulsory my *^&*!!!

I've given up being surprised by the mendacity of this lot. I'll have to settle for merely being furious.

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Anonymous Coward

Why biometrics?

Why an ID card? The biometrics are a side issue. If you have to carry ID the whole time, your civil rights are as infringed whether the ID is biometric or not. I wouldn't be surprised if the Goit at some point "admits" that biometrics are a costly boondoggle and hopes to ride the wave of relief at this withdrawal to public acceptance of a further erosion of civil liberties.

"Papieren bitte," isn't far off, once you have a compulsory ID card and you can bet your bottom pound that the darker-skinned of our population will hear it more often than the fair-skinned amongst us. Until the population and institutions of this country are sufficiently enlightened to realise that persecution of stereotypes is wrong, and the Goit stops trying to rule us with fear of the non-we, ID cards are a human rights disaster waiting to happen.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: "foreign nationals" only eh?

The claimed reason for the higher passport price is the cost of added security features. The price has been jacked up with this excuse several times, with the addition of biometrics being the most recent component of 'extra security'. Also present in the excuse list is 'we have to do it' in order to conform to ICAO passport standards. So actually it's got precious little to do with ID cards for foreigners, and no you can't have your £10 passport back. (-:

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Silver badge

No change in policy

Actually Brown is just being inarticulate in telling us the state of the ID Card legislation.

When it looked like the New Labour sheep might have woken up to the scheme, the Home Office came over all emollient and said that their would be no element of compulsion in the Act. Which is true(ish) - but as people have pointed out above, not really necessary since Blunkettcards will be needed to function in society. Satisfied by the government's ability to listen, the backbench androids duly all pressed the button marked 'Police State' and the government got its way.

When the ID Cards Act became law, one of the Home Secretaries (can't remember if it was the one who looked like a garden gnome or the drunk who cuddled up to warmongers) said that if Labour were re-elected at the next election, they would publish a second ID Card Act that would make the cards compulsory.

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Anonymous Coward

Illegals

Most illegas I know of are in the UK on tourist visas. So are they going to issue ID cards to all the tourists?

Legal but confused anonymously cowardly foreigner.

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IT Angle

A Fiasco-to-be

I'm just wondering how many millions will be thrown at EDS before the project is canceled.

Unless you can guarantee that a biometric ID will not produce a false positive*, then you'll be free to apply for as many biometric IDs as you have fake IDs. After all, the first biometric ID you have can only be based on an existing, non-biometric ID.

Effectively, biometrics will serve to strengthen a fake ID.

Sigh...... We're all paying for this, you know....

*Hmmm. According to our system, you're also Mr Y and Mr Z.

Mr X: What? Nonsense. Prove it.

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Flame

I'm as mad as hell...

This guy makes my blood boil. He is a disgrace to everything I was brought up to believe our country stood for!

Cards for foreigners but not compulsory for citizens... Great but how the **** am I supposed to prove I'm not an illegal immigrant if I don't have a card that says I'm not. My friend is black and speaks with a strong accent. How does this work for him or is it only for white people who speak with a British accent? Legally he's as much a citizen as I am but I see him having to prove it a lot more often. Kind of flies in the face of Government policy on multiculturalism, doesn't it or is it OK for people who have become citizens to be treated as second class?

The encryption protecting the data on these cards will become the holy grail of ID fraudsters. If you have the master key you can prove to they system that "you are" the person whose name appears on the card and that will never be challenged because the system is "perfect." I bet it won't store the fingerprint scanned at the point of the transaction either so you will have no way to have it recalled and demonstrate it really wasn't you. How long before we see a trojan that, instead of (or as well as) sending spam, uses your machine to process cracks against a card to recover the key? Just think, a million PCs churning away in parallel, the SETI of ID theft.

When the code falls (and it will fall eventually) we'll all be up the creek without a paddle as the Police will have "proof" (at least until it becomes so widespread that the Government admits the breach) that it was you that opened that bank account being used by organised criminals. You also won't get a refund when they empty your bank account as your bank can "prove" it was you that withdrew that money. In fact they'll probably call the Police and have you prosecuted for attempting to defraud them by making a false claim.

How many innocent people will go to jail and for how long before they are freed on appeal for a "miscarriage of justice"? Lots if whoever cracks it uses the crack sparingly.

When the system falls who will pay for the cards to be replaced? "Your card has been abused, that'll be £50 for a new one..." Even if it's not like that we'll all pay for the replacements in our taxes.

If the Government really has this many billions of spare budget why don't they fix up all our schools and hospitals? They could help the homeless or invest it in creating jobs or renewable energy. There's a thousand things they could do with it that would be of real benefit to the people of this country. This is not one of them.

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Ditherer

How we've managed to endure Brown for so long is beyond me. He's a total ditherer with no leadership ability whatsoever. To quote Matthew Parris (I think), he's prudent, but the sort of prudent person that hesitates as they approach a traffic light as it goes from green to amber, go over the line, then change their minds and screech to a halt - in the middle of the junction. I'm surprised he hasn't already been pushed - probably his rivals expect Labour to lose the next election no matter what (hooray) and don't want to snatch the poisoned chalice.

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Flame

Brown now sees the future and it's expensive...

It's becoming clear that the government was sold on ID cards by lies told by "the usual suspects" in the IT systems business. They were told it would be cheap, they were told (but it was not explained how) that ID cards would solve everything from fraud to global warming. As the government is totally clueless about technology, they couldn't see the obvious problems.

Brown now sees that there may be better uses for the 10 to 20 billion pounds ID cards will cost over the next 10 years.

I expect that the entire policy will shrink down to the existing RFID enabled passports, perhaps with an enhanced check on first application and renewals.

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dek

@John Lettice

The technology overlap allows the gov to claim all the costs are to do with passports but the truth (as far as I care) is that none of the cost is explicitly shared with the ID card scheme. In any other walk of life an organisation would be claiming saving by spreading costs across projects with similar aims. It is no coincidence that the two progress concurrently but independently cost-wise. A clear tactic to hide the true cost of ID cards (and god knows how much they have spent/committed to date!).

BTW: Nothing against foreigners, PO'ed at dummy MP's wasting money!

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Nev
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Paris Hilton

E-passports

On a recent trip to Canada, I nipped over the border to the US for a couple of days and spent three quarters of an hour being interviewed by a border patrol guy as he didn't like my newfangled electronical passport.

"Why have you got this?" he asked.

"What's all this wire on the back page?"

In these situations I find it best to bite my tongue.

I'm sure Paris doesn't have these problems.

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Stop

Just forget it

The fact is that since Gordon Brown became PM, there's been a gradual backing out from this disaster: they realised what would happen should it ever be implemented. All the signals, leaks, nudges, hints and newspaper interviews tell the story.

Unlike Blair & Blunkett, he and Jack Straw were never convinced of their need. Being old-fashioned Labour believing in Civil Liberties, all they're trying to do is get out of the mess they inherited from those two NuLab creeps.

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errr

"If you look at the information that we are asking people to give for their identity card it is not much more than is actually required for a passport, but the advantage people have from an identity card is that that information cannot be used without biometric identification."

They want our biometric information on an ID card so that we can use our biometric information as identification to use our biometric information on the card?

What perfect sense, I'm persauded. I'll apply for mine tommorow.

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Coat

@Gordon Brown

GB: "But the very fact that you’ve got biometrics now in a way that you didn’t have two centuries ago gives you opportunities to protect people’s identity.."

This from the government that lost half the nation's identity?! ROTFLMAO

Gordon Brown? Gordon Bennett, more like.

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Jobs Horns

and I kid you not

CD data transfer in light of the fiasco recently is to be encrypted with Winzip.

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Pirate

Cards aren't the problem

It's the National Identity Register that's the issue. That's where the 50-odd items of data will live (until they're shared with whoever ends up with the missing disks, of course) and that's the part that you'll have to update every time you move etc on pain of a £2000 fine. Regardless of whether you get a piece of plastic to carry around and regardless of how useless the biometrics are, it's the NIR at the back end which is going to accumulate the picture of your life.

Think Broon is going to give up the opportunity to build the NIR? Dream on. The "make cards non-compulsory" is just a token gesture.

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Just tattoo foreigners.

Just tattoo everyone who visits your island. If someone hasn't got a tattoo, they're either native or paid up with the right people (work for government, have a nice speedboat and night vision goggles, etc.).

Of course, then you'll have problem with unscrupulous people drugging their neighbors when they're angry at them, and tattooing them.

Come to think about it, if your neighbor gets angry at you, what's to stop him drugging you and signing you up for a national ID card? :(

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Thumb Down

We are a country that prides ourselves on liberty, in civil liberties...

... says Gordon Brown.

Oh really? This on exactly the same day that Parliament "debated" the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007.

This Bill contains, amongst other draconian legislation, the "Dangerous Pictures Act" that will have you locked up for three years simply for possessing pictures of "extreme pornography" which certain members of the Government find "abhorrent"!

Despite even Labour MPs opposing this measure and proposing amendments, it didn't even get mentioned because the Government disgracefully truncated the debate meaning that a Thought Crime is one step closer to entering UK law since it is the Government's position that we can't be trusted to look at this stuff in case it makes us do bad things.

See http://www.backlash-uk.org.uk/ for more details.

Mr Brown, your hypocrisy is utterly breathtaking!

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Coat

@We are a country etc

Extreme pornography, like pics of Prezza on the cabinet table with his mistress ?

Leather jacket, map of central Europe on the liner ... thnaks

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Anonymous Coward

@Just forget it

"Unlike Blair & Blunkett, he and Jack Straw were never convinced of their need. Being old-fashioned Labour believing in Civil Liberties"

I'll have what you're having, where do I find your dealer?.

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Flame

Nothing new here, move along please...

Brown's just retailing precisely the same <strike>lies</strike> misleading presentations that ministers have all through the sorry affair, only with considerably less verbal dexterity than Clarke, Blunkett, Blair... "A vote in Parliament" - under whips - big deal. "Not compulsory" but to be made a requirement to live anything like a normal life. You might progressively have to give up the opportunity to travel, drive, have a bank account, get education or medical treatment, become a security guard or hospital porter, get any kind of non-casual work, instruct a lawyer, in order to avoid registration, but that will of course be your choice. No one will arrest you for failing to apply for an ID card, though one imagines you might be compulsorily registered when you are banged up for vagrancy offences. (That's how French ID cards started: gypsy control.)

And the emphasis on feelthy foreigners isn't even new. They've been pressing this button repeatedly for over a year, as the only one that has any real pull with the public.

Can we have a NO2ID icon please?

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just like France

they'll be used by the police to harass ethnic minorities by asking them if they have their card. this government keep making up reasons for the cards without having any proof. they seem to have stopped claiming that they will have any use against terrorists thankfully.

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Anonymous Coward

You will need your ID card to go to local tip next.

Why ID cards? Make them available and the applications will come. Here in France when I go to the local tip I need to take my ID card and a gas bill with me. Unless I can prove the identity and the address of the rubbish I am throwing away I will not be allowed into the tip! (Note that an ID card by itself is not sufficient proof of the address of the rubbish as the owner may have moved house and not updated his ID card, hence a recent utility bill is needed as well! How many people are not going to update the address on their ID card so that they can fraudulently drive to another town's tip to throw away their rubbish instead of going to their local tip?)

At the weekend I went to the local swimming baths with the children. Before I could pay I was asked for my identity card. The local baths are subsidised by the local council and because of ID cards they can have a double pricing structure, one price for those who vote for councillors and another one for those who live out of town and cannot vote for the local council.

There are countless pointless cases where ID cards are required in daily life. The French find this all perfectly normal and logical. In fact they cannot understand how a society can function without ID cards.

I need my bloody ID card (in my case my passport) to go to the local tip or the swimming baths! You do not know what fun you are missing by not having ID cards.

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Stop

How long until EU

How long until the EU Directive on RFID implants on newborns for secure identification?

This is where UK, and the rest of Europe, is heading. Smells and sounds like the serial-numbering the Nazis did in their KZ-camps, only this time they want the entire European population tagged for monitoring.

//Svein

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Unhappy

interesting....

Gordon Brown says "I think over the course of the next few months people will see that there is some wisdom in the argument that we have put forward for identity cards themselves"

Does this mean we can expect some unpleasantness blamed on "terrorists" in the next few months so the naive masses have the frighteners put on them and are crying out for security in the form of ID cards?

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Stop

For foreigners?

Funny, cos I am sure originally they <i>weren't</i> going to make ID cards available to foreigners*, presumably on the grounds that no ID card = not British = no NHS etc. So they would be de-facto compulsory.

Now they state that they will be <i>starting</i> with foreigners, who probably won't be able to use the biometric information to prove that the card is actually theirs anyway (few readers) so the ID card will indeed be no better than a passport and probably worse initially.

I thought entering the US was bad enough (like Nev - "Whats this bit?", "Thats the electronic part of the passport", "Why is that there?", "Cos the US require it now", "To do what? [now suspicious of foreigner with funny passport]"), what's it going to be like doing something in the UK? ("ID card? - oh, we can't read this, picture ID and two forms of address verification please to prove it's your card...")

As a dual national I am not sure whether I am required to have one or required not to have one...

*foreigners who were just visiting obviously, cos a legally working foreigner pays taxes etc covering the NHS and would need one. Oh, and an asylum seeker would need one too. Europeans could use their existing one for reciprocal health stuff, unless they didn't have ID cards...

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Flame

Gumption, or lack of it.

"Unlike Blair & Blunkett, he and Jack Straw were never convinced of their need. Being old-fashioned Labour believing in Civil Liberties, all they're trying to do is get out of the mess they inherited from those two NuLab creeps."

If this were true, why don't they just get up on their hind legs, stop braying for a moment and say: "This was always a marginal idea, and time has proven that the costs will greatly outweigh the benefits. We believe that the prudent course is to abandon it before the serious costs are incurred, saving large amounts of money which will, instead be spent on..."

Maybe it's because they are donkeys and cannot stop braying. Or maybe it's because they're Stalinist control freaks who want to RFID tag us all.

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Unhappy

They're as bad as each other

Damn, this man's as bad as Cameron with his Bill of Rights for British Citizens.

So he will discriminate against foreign nationals by making them carry ID cards when British Citizens will not have to?

Must be a European Convention on Human Rights article that deals with that...

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Just leave !

"But the very fact that you’ve got biometrics now in a way that you didn’t have two centuries ago gives you opportunities to protect people’s identity in a way that you could not have done two centuries ago"

HaHa ! I'm pretty sure they didn't have

a. The internet

b. Hackers

c. Civil Servants who post unencrypted CD's

two centeries ago or am i missing something ?

The answer to the point about IDcards being brought in by stealth is simple if it happens move out of the UK ! thats my plan Holland or Denmark here i come !

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Anonymous Coward

@Euro-politics.

The difference is that you are allowed to complain without being punished.

Other than that, very little from your point of view.

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Flame

ID Card.....followed closely by ID theft

Whilst I have nothing to fear from ID thieves - or at any rate, those ID thieves who think they will be able to take out mortgages and apply for credit cards and empty my bank account etc as my credit rating is so bad they are more likely to get a knock from debt collections - I am thoroughly disturbed at the thought of heaven knows who in the public sector sniffing around my identity. Having worked as a temp in several areas of "Government" I can tell that a lot of this wonderful new "database" will be administered, very badly, by temps and other workers who are hired to fill a diversity hole. They will be given little training, little thought and care, afterall they are simply expendable, the jackass to whom to pin the blame tail when it all goes horribly wrong.

Of course, the lessons of history are that Governments use identity to divide, conquer and destroy. If these ridiculous cards ever actually come to pass, I will be packing up and going. My father fought for Britain's freedom and to crush a tyrant over sixty years ago. After a decade of Labour's pinkwashed socialism, I am left wondering why exactly he bothered. This is not the country he and countless others fought to save.

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A canny move by Brown...

after all, sending them 2 years further out should be long enough for people to forget the Child Benefit type data fiascos (while they clamp down big style on the release of such confessions).

Or maybe it will take that long before the techware companies to syphon billions off this shit infested project, thus ensuring Mssr Brown's non-executive directorship....

Anyway, the government see this as a future cash cow. As mentioned in previous comments, the cards will initially be required for 'checking identity' in order to buy/sell restricted or large items (alcohol, cars, houses, stock / shares). Then they'll extend it to all purchases.

Where there is a 'service' there will be a fee. Not to mention what they'll rake-in selling details of your purchasing / lifestyle habits to the highest bidder. Ok, so this type of profiling already occurs, but at least you still have some choice / control in what happens to your data (pay in cash, tick the 'do not contact' box).

With the ID card you'll be forced to give the information, then forced to use it by the people who make the rules, which incidentally won't apply to them.

And after they integrate the DNA database into the equation, they'll sell that information to health companies (purely in the interests of a public/private partnership with the NHS, to provide a more 'robust, streamlined & efficient' service). The current 'discussion' with us punters about the scope of the DNA db is inevitably going to end up with the conclusion that we all need to be included on it...

Then finally, when health care is rationed, they will be able to ensure that you only receive a certain amount of NHS funded care over your lifetime (well, the masses anyway)...

Welcome to Britasia.

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