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back to article Law lord lashes out at ID cards

Lord Steyn, a former Law lord, is calling for the government to abandon its national ID card scheme because it is an unacceptable invasion of privacy and will not help to solve the various problems they keep claiming it will solve. He outlines the different claims made by the government in favour of ID cards. First we were told …

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USA

"there was no attempt to introduce identity passes in the US."

Apart from the REAL ID Act, of course..

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Result!

I love this guy.

not too sure about the emboldened statement in the middle of the article, doesn't make sense to me but the abandonment of the ID card scheme does. Its something we all want switched off.

I hope someone listens to this guy

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What REALLY bugs me...

....is that the goverment continues to persue this even though they know* they will loose the next election and the Tories will knock it all on the head.

Of course, they can't just throw the towel in and say so, so to gain political advantage for their own party, they are prepared to waste tax payers money. Cheers guys.

* Okay, so they don't KNOW it but I'll bet if they were asked to bet real money on a Labour victory (not ours, like they're used to spending, but their actual own money) non of them would.

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Anonymous Coward

i've always liked the immigration angle

After all, if all foreigners are required to have them, then anyone who doesn't have one must be a local.

it would make slightly more sense the other way around

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Swaying my vote

For the first time in my life I am considering voting Conservative at the next election, entirely on the grounds of their opposition to ID cards. Whilst I loathe everything else the bastards stand for, this issue overrides all of that. They can do whatever they want to hinder the material aspirations of us unprivileged underclasses - just keep us free and I'll live with the less than meritocratic society they doubtless want to create.

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The US is pushing for national ID cards

"Steyn notes that even in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the paranoia of George Bush and Dick Cheney, and despite the Patriot Act and the Homelands Security Act, there was no attempt to introduce identity passes in the US."

There he's wrong, though the rest of his argument is quite persuasive. The REAL ID Act of 2005 is just that: the requirement for identity passes in order to travel, enter many government buildings, or any other "official purpose" so designated by the Heimatsicherheitdienst (Dept. of Homeland Security).

That these are national ID cards is disguised by pushing the responsibility for implementation onto individual states in the form of driver licenses or similarly issued ID cards for non-drivers. All of the states license systems must be tied together to a country-wide data base centrally controlled and administered, and accessible, of course, to all federal and state law enforcement and intelligence forces. And their dogs.

Fortunately, the system is not in place just yet and several states are fighting the law. Good for them!

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Happy

Fair play

That's at least one lord a leapin' into my heart.

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Finally

Someone with at least a little sway, has had the courage to say something out loud about the absurdity that is the British ID card system.

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Anonymous Coward

(untitled)

I used to think the English valued their liberties, but the last few decades make me doubt that now. Seems to be just a small band of us who value freedom/privacy these days. Most apparently posting on this site.

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Anonymous Coward

Hats off to the lords

Their Lordships are full of uncomfortable truths aren't they, how many Lords do we actually need?

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Stop

Just wait for the government response

As usual with this government, they will go out of their way to shoot the messenger. Wait for a character assassination of Lord Steyn instead of any attempt at rebuttal.

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Anonymous Coward

you see

You see this is why Labour are so keen on turning the House of Lords into an elected house, becouse then it'd be full of the same career politicos the lower house is infested with. They provide a much needed counterbalance, sadly nowdays it's got a few too many appointed peers. But just imagine how awful it would be full of the same kind of junk that festers in parliment?

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Pirate

Be careful what you wish for

It's widely acknowledged that public support for scrapping ID card plans is a very populist stance, and considering to vote Tory on this basis is quite common.

Be careful though, many times have parties got into power promising to dismantle X piece of legislation only on arrival to say that it's too far advanced, and would cost more now to abandon than complete.

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Stop

hmmmmmm

be careful of tory....

yes - i dont want national ID cards - but remember that the reason we all pay thorough the nose for everything is that the toties sold EVERYTHING off.... thats why your leccy and gas bills ate 4/5x what they used to be.

also, dont forget that the tories will most likely push up interest rates - as rich people want the interest... anyone else remember 16%+ interest rates on mortgages?

this is the dilemma we all face...

vote red = get screwed

vote blue = likely to get screwed Eton style

vote orange = god only knows what would be in store....

arghhhh why cant we have a DECENT choice!?

anyone else find it odd that its the house of lords that seem more intent on looking after the little people?

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Unhappy

@Rosco

"They can do whatever they want to hinder the material aspirations of us unprivileged underclasses - just keep us free and I'll live with the less than meritocratic society they doubtless want to create."

The way I look at it, if you assume the stereotype of Labour being supported by the 'poor', and the Conservatives being supported by the 'rich';

1) Which party benefits electorally from there being as many 'poor' people as possible?

2) Which party benefits electorally from there being as many 'rich' people as possible?

Also, 'big business', 'fat cats', 'capitalists' etc actually want the 'masses' to have a decent amount of money. It creates a large market for their products.

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Happy

Blubber

Rosco's post damn near bought tears to my eyes. Go Rosco !!

"They can do whatever they want to hinder the material aspirations of us unprivileged underclasses - just keep us free and I'll live with the less than meritocratic society they doubtless want to create."

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£10 says...

That he won't be a law lord for much longer. There will be too many senior vested interests at stake for him to be allowed to continue with this commonsense and rational point of view.

It is great to see someone finally speaking up about it though, and if he does end up as "ousted" I'll put a pound in the beggin bowl for him.

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Wishing @EddieD

Fair point EddieD but for me, a slim chance is better than no chance.

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I don't hold out much hope...

This guy seems to have his head screwed on correctly, so more power to his elbow!

Sadly he has way too much common sense and makes far too many valid, sensible points, so in the face if Za-Nu-Lab, he's well and truly had his chips!

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Anonymous Coward

@Citizen Kaned

Vote Orange (yellow) - That would be get screwed European style. The liberals want to sell us down the road to a federal Europe so fast it would make labour look like Euro-sceptics.

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Stop

Wake up, please.

WIth the best will in the world - and there isn't much were ID cards abd ID databases are concerned - the development WILL NOT be stopped, abandoned, scaled back or diminished. There is too much capital at stake.:

Integration of databases with all the economies of scale that will result,

Population monitoring and control capabilities

New database and card businesses

New revenue streams as the data is sold on to 3rd parties

to name just 4...

Why on this good earth would any right-minded Politician or Civil Servant throw them away by changing the proposed systems? Words are cheap so listen for words but don't expect change.

When wealth is at stake human rights go by the wayside in the current world and I, sadly, see no imminent prospect of change.

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RE: (Untitled)

AC wrote: "I used to think the English valued their liberties, but the last few decades make me doubt that now."

Interesting question, I've wondered that before now (not that I'm English). I recently stumbled over this Wikipedia article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcotizing_Dysfunction

Which would explain the situation if we all watched the news but alas we don't - as a nation we are far more interested in Big Brother.

The government could pass a bill saying anyone with vowels in their name will get their hands chopped off, safe in the knowledge that most people would be discussing who got evicted from the big brother house and just wouldn't be interested in any part of the hand other than the finger they use to push the buttons on their TV remotes.

Sadly we live in a society where 1984 is just another number...

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Never thought I woud say this...

Thank God for the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. They have been the only ones in this disunited kingdom with the balls to stand infront of NuLab in the past 10 years.

What righs we have left are due to Lord Steyn and his chums.

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@Citizen Kaned

Lets get real here. The reason we pay more for electricity is because we have used up almost all of our oil, and have to pay market rates for the fossil fuels which generate our electricity. Those fossil fuels have gone up more than 4-5x in recent years. It has nothing at all to do with privatisation which has actually bought some pretty big benefits (like being able to buy cheap surplus French nuclear power).

Also Interest rates get pushed up to reduce inflation. If you don't reduce inflation you end up with Zimbabwe (or Germany before the war). That is a lot more of a problem than a few people who over-reached to buy a house losing it.

The last Tory government inherited an economy that had just received an IMF bailout because of Labour mismanegement (sound familiar). They handed over the most successful economy any losing government has ever handed over in 1997. I know who I will trust on the economy - and it isn't "No Boom and Bust Gordon" with his $20bn un-needed ID card scheme.

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Anonymous Coward

Did you catch this

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/jun/14/expenses-fraud-detectives-scotland-yard

"More than 300 elite Scotland Yard detectives are suspected of defrauding the taxpayer of millions of pounds by abusing their corporate credit cards, the Observer can disclose."

i.e. top policemen are human, and some of them diddled their expenses... yet they can demand huge amounts of private information with nothing more than a letter signed by their own hands. No checks, no balances, just their word.

It's been typical of this lot in power, they assembly huge databases of private information then hand it out to anyone in a high visibility jacket, or who is tall.

They should not have demanded biometrics in passports & ID cards (a British demand when they held the EU Presidency), their anti privacy crap should be rolled back and proper checks and balances put back in place.

Don't issue visas to people whose passports isn't trusted and don't issue them with ID cards based on those fake passports and quit pretending that issuing them with an ID card somehow makes their original ID correct.

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Unhappy

Why is it...

That it's always retired or people no longer in a position of any power that actually speak some common sense and agrees with the people of this country?

Oh, I keep on forgetting that the "democracy" we now live in allows our unelected prime minister to bung any old moron into a position of power.

I’m fed up with having crap shoved down my throat about it being for my own safety against the nasty terrorists or the illegal immigrants.

You want to stop terrorism? How about we say fine, spout hate against our society (note I did not say Government), do your worst blowing up thing/people but remember that we will find out who you are and when we do every single member of your family will be stripped of their assets, their citizenship (don’t matter if they were born here or not) and then dumped back in the county of their ancestors penniless.

Just don’t give me any crap about ID cards being for my own good!

Ok, rant over, I’m calm now.

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Anonymous Coward

Benefits for Foreigners

If the programme is limited in scope to foreign nationals, I would be very interested to see the benefits of ID cards for foreign national's quantified in terms of £. It seems like the infrastructure to support many of the claimed benefits is already in place.

For example, the government is already collecting fingerprints and photographs as part of the visa application process (they have mine). I've seen them on the TV using portable fingerprint scanners linked to this existing database when raiding businesses and interviewing suspected visa overstayers. Surely this is already achieving the government's objective of proving people are who they say they are as well as confronting illegal working?

In terms of the public suddenly being supportive of the scheme. I cannot see any benefit for me of having an ID card - my passport does fine thankyou in terms of proving my identity.

But as I am very uninformed as to this issue, so am open to alternative views....

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Anonymous Coward

when labour got in

in '97 we had a budget surplus.

Nuff said.

It's time had the real steady hands at the wheel. The Tories.

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@Citizen Kaned - Vote yellow..

...I'll be buggered if I'd do that. Or, have my dog shot first.

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Good grief!

What's this? A sudden outbreak of common sense? That'll be fixed soon, and then everyone can go back to their soap operas and reality TV shows, safe from all this thinking nonsense.

Or, hopefully, this invasion of privacy and waste of money might be halted before it gets any worse!

... eh, what am I saying? The vast majority of this country just does not care, so long as they have their cheap booze and reality TV shows. Cynical, moi? Just a little...

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@Pad

"every single member of your family will be stripped of their assets, their citizenship (don’t matter if they were born here or not) and then dumped back in the county of their ancestors penniless."

Guilt by relation - nice - works so well too. Really proves you're a progessive, just, civil society.

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Paris Hilton

Heres an idea

Bear in mind I say this as a Civil Servant;

How about if the system MUST be implemented, it is done with the following provisos;

The contractors providing the software/service/database do so knowing that they will be personally liable for any accidental releases of data resulting from bugs.

Those granted access are made aware that they personally be financially liable for any leaks traced back to them.

I say financially on the latter for good reason. Despite the contrary being implied in the media, we are held accountable (at least within the arm I work within) for any data leaks. A lack of care can have a very bad effect on your career (i.e. it can end), your pension (bye bye!), and in some cases even your liberty (Oh yeah, a bad leak could lead to jail time!). Thankfully I don't deal with any Taxpayers details, but I'm very very aware of the risk if I ever have to. When the media refers to Civil Servants getting away with leaks, I can only assume they mean those who work just below MP's, because trust me, at my level there's no room for movement.

That said, it's not that big a difference from when I worked in the licensed trade. One mistake == BigFine + PossibleJail + Kidgetsoffscotfree despite the fact it was the youngsters causing the issue! If liability can be so unfairly shifted there, why not create a similar imbalance of power. It would also save the taxpayer money;

while [ $DATA == "LOST" ]

do

ACTION1="You sue"

ACTION2="You Win"

ACTION3="Govt Pays"

ACTION4="Taxpayer Pays"

done

Realistically, how much of a stretch would it be to class lost details as being subject to the Official Secrets Act? There are certain rules, sure, but as it puts the government in a bad light, it is a possibility. We certainly know that no work data can leave the office, and if it has to - encryption must be used. That encryption must meet a minimum standard (yeah, who'd have thought an encrypted zip file doesn't count eh?)

Realistically, it could be the way forward. I'm no big fan of the ID database, and I'd like to see it scrapped, but the reality is that it may not be possible. I'm already in a database just to get to work, so I guess it's probably no big step for me. But you kinda have to think about this leaving that aside, if I wasn't already on the database, would I be happy. Erm... No!!!!

If it can be scrapped, scrap it. If it can't be, then try the above, and just be honest about it. Don't insult our intelligence by blaming immigrants, terrorists and the like. You thought a National ID database was a good idea (whether for those reasons or some other), and public opinion shows you were wrong. If there's no way out of it, then there's no way out of it. Admit your mistake, and perhaps (big stretch coming) the votes will be a little more sympathetic than they would have been?

Oh and Kudos to the Lord, he sounds like a wise man! It is nice to see the Lords taking an interest in us mere mortals, not something I remember hearing much about in the past (Lord Carter aside, and well I could probably have done a better job on some aspects)

So to sum up, stop using the term Civil Servant in a derogatory manner, it's an infringement of one of my remaining rights (google it if you care which), we're not all bad! And the ID database should either be scrapped or have true liability placed on its creators/operators. The rest of this post was pretty much waffle

Paris because she doesn't know how to run a SELECT query

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This is surreal

Our unelected upper house is more democratic than our elected lower house.

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Lordy. Lordy ...

"I regard freedom of expression as the primary right without which one can not have a proper functioning democracy," said Lord Steyn.

This man was born in South Africa so knows a few things about freedom and democracy. Look up a bit of his history ... what an outspoken critic of this present Stalinist government!

He, together with the Tories' statement to suppliers of ID Cards today, have sealed my vote for the Conservatives in the next election. I dislike Tory dogma and this will be the first time I've voted Tory in my life but such is the importance of the matter of ID Cards and the lies that have accompanied them.

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Anonymous Coward

Well, isn't it time to discuss the real reason the ID card scam was needed?

The true reason behind the shenanigans is that the "population numbering scheme" also known as the NHS number was hopelessly botched. Biometrics would ensure the idea of handing out two identities to one person (to enable twice the benefits collection) would no longer be possible.

So, instead of fixing the front end processes it would somehow all be fixed in the back end.

There are some many things wrong with that idea I won't even try to start, but that's the unspoken motivation, apart from the fact that it happened to combine neatly with the New Labour desire to monitor everyone in a way that would have made even Stalin recoil.

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Re: This is surreal

The Lords have traditionally been rather difficult to control as they owe little to the parties that they represent. Also, there has always been a healthy number of crossbenchers (those not affiliated to a particular party). I'm not aware of any Commons government ever having sat in the knowledge that they also held an absolute majority in the Lords. Finally here, the remuneration for sitting in the Lords has in the past been a paltry amount, so those that turned up did so out of altruism and a sense of duty rather than for the cash.

It always had an inbuilt conservative majority, although that was very much a "small c" thing as any Tory government that's had a contentious bill returned in tatters will attest. This is probably a good thing as I think an upper house, to act as a governer, should always tend towards the status quo as the preferred option and object to anything radical on principle. The control here is the Parliament act and eminently sensible this system is too. Radical legislation *should* be difficult to get passed.

Why on earth do you think that Bliar spent so much time attempting to turn it into a talking shop stuffed with well-paid toadies? The only reason that it still acts independantly is that Tony found to his cost that even some of the most lickspittle of his client Lords, once elevated and thus untouchable, "went native". The main reason the gibbering lefties are so keen on an elected upper house is so that their stooges'll have to toe the line or risk being deselected at the next election....

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Happy

Peepul, peepul! Peepul!

I must be way, way, way out on a limb...

+ Europe has ID cards (is there a loss of personal freedom there?) [ok - some European neighbours have ID cards... ]

But equally I accept that the Brit way might not be the best way however, in principle I have no objection to ID cards.

@AC 21:19

May I beg an indulgence regarding the term or phrase (un)civil servant?

I accept that there are many civil servants but I posit that there are many (un)civil servants as well.

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Unhappy

we're sorry

This fellow escaped from the asylum the other day and we've been wondering what he got up to recently. We'll just take him away and you can just ignore anything he was telling you.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mahatma Coat

One of the reasons the upper house can act the way it does is exactly becouse it isn't elected - it doesn't have to worry about what the papers or news programs say about them becouse they don't need to worry about getting idiots to vote for them, and if they don't care about something they just stay at home. They don't get paid and only really have a guiding role in the running of the country, and the lower house can over rule them if they really think they're right.

Course, alot of the appointed members of the lords are just flotsam dumped there by their parties to keep them out of the way. Which means there are career politicos in there now days but many have tempered with age.

The lords is a pressure valve full of odd people who don't care about your vote, as such they vote the way they see fit, they make noise when it seems appropriate, and they keep their mouths shut when they have nothing productive to add to a debate.

Time and time again in this labour government we've seen the Lords take an intelligent, reasoned, and informed position against the lower house. Thanks to that some of the terrible law that has been put in place isn't quite as bad as it could have been after being flushed through the u-bend of parliement.

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Anonymous Coward

A good track record

I might be wrong, but I think Steyn was one of the law lords who supported extraditing Pinochet to face the music in Spain, when the Spanish request was appealed. He was subsequently smeared by Pinochet's tory apologists because his wife was a member of Amnesty, or some such shite.

Considering the the barbed eloquence with which Steyn and others like Ken Macdonald (former DPP) put the case against ID cards, I only wish more of them would wade in and do us all a favour, not least as the Government case is tenuous and incredibly poorly presented by people with the apparent intellect of aquatic molluscs.

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Bravo...

... Lord Steyn!

At least there are a few people willing to speak out about this who might actually get listened to.

Unfortunately people like him are why the Government wants to replace the Lords with a bunch of party hacks who will rubber-stamp whatever nonsense they want to push through.

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@ A good track record

"Government case is tenuous and incredibly poorly presented by people with the apparent intellect of aquatic molluscs."

Thank you and god bless you, my son. My day is fulfilled.

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@ AC and TeeCee

My comment was simply rhetorical thinking out loud. The current state of Parliament just goes to show that the UK democratic process is incredibly broken and needs some serious ground-up rebuilding.

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Government by aquatic mollusca

If you know anything about cephalopods (Octopi, Squids, etc), you would know that many of them are apparently more intelligent than the average politician.

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PT

A title is required

"anyone else find it odd that its the house of lords that seem more intent on looking after the little people?"

It's called "noblesse oblige, n. Benevolent, honorable behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank." Also known as Doing The Right Thing. It used to be the main characteristic of the British establishment - in the 1950s, the Civil Service would have gone all Sir Humphrey about ID cards and just prevented it ever happening. For that matter, the police would have indignantly rejected laws for social control, instead of forming a private corporation to lobby for more of them.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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