It's straight out of the New Labour Labs spin book. The Home Office executes a U-turn on compulsory ID cards, while the Home Secretary does the rounds of the media insisting that they were never compulsory in the first place, and that he is affirming his commitment to them by accelerating their rollout. But there's a surprising …
Proof of age
If only there weren't already perfectly good proof of age schemes (endorsed by the government no less), which have (gasp!) a plastic card to go in your wallet, then you might have a point about them being useful.
http://www.citizencard.com/ being a good example.
So, um, waste of time and money then...
What else could we expect?
No Labour Home Secretary is going to cancel this even if they wanted to. They couldn't justify the waste of time, money and poltical capital. All they can do is wait until after the election and carp from the opposition benches that the Tories have "wasted" all the money "invested" in the NIS. And make groundless assertions that terrorism/crime/immigration/teen knifings etc ad nauseum would be virtually non-existant if only we all had ID cards.
You're f*cking kidding, right?
"It might not be anything like as solid and secure a form of ID as the Home Office first claimed it would be, but if it is defined as such by banks, shops and Government, then it's the one document box-tick that means, say, you don't get fined for employing an illegal alien."
You won't get fined for employing an illegal alien if you ask for their National Insurance number before hiring them...
As the article rightly points out the scheme won't be compulsory, so they can't insist on ID cards - effectively meaning that we can use passports anyway.
With the ID card being useless for travel outside the EU and unwanted in the UK, my guess is that it's still going to fall flat on it's arse. The database is going to be mostly empty!
Home Office Minister loves back-door action.
Want a mortgage? Got an ID card? No? Feck off.
Want to buy a car? Got and ID card? No? Feck off.
Want a job? Got an ID card? No? Feck off.
Want to register with a doctor or dentist? Got and ID card? No? Feck off.
Noooo, ID cards won't be 'compulsory'. You will have to live on the street and steal to feed yourself but you *won't* have to have an ID card.
ID cards for Terrorists
will terrorist still be able to get their ID card in order to prove they are not a terrorist? Wasn't this the raison d'etre for their introduction in the first place???!
How will we now know who's a terrorist and who isn't?
What a farce!
Labour should start packing their bags now...
You missed the people who really need ID cards:
If the government set up a suspicious looking web site hosted in Russia or China that offers counterfit ID cards, they could get all the ID's that people intend to use to commit crimes.
"It's a juggernaut, and there's a lot more to removing compulsion than just saying you have"
Is juggernaut another word for fuck-up?
Nice well reasoned and thought out article that. One point though:
"...nobody is allowed to demand an ID card as proof of identity until ID cards become compulsory."
This may be true from a strictly legal point of view, but not from a practical one. Already you have pubs and supermarkets specifying what they will accept as proof of age, usually a passport, photo driving license or other photo ID. How hard would it be convince them to replace all these with just the ID card? It may still be compulsory to carry one, but if you are lucky enough to look under 18 (or 21 or 25 or whatever) and you want to be able to buy age restricted items then you'd better get one!
Dead Policy Walking 2
Most government IT projects suffer from feature creep, getting more complex, difficult and expensive over time. This project has always suffered from feature starvation. While the idea of "one card to rule them all" appears to have many advantages, in fact it is just one more bit of plastic that will be lost/stolen. Stupid politicians tried to claim that the ID card would replace credit/debit cards, travel cards etc. Such claims just demonstrated how far removed politicians could be from the realities of business.
The government could steal a policy from the opposition today by killing off ID cards and their associated database(s). They are going to anyway so why wait?
ID <> innocence
The thing that gets (out of many) me is that there seems to be an assumption that people with ID cards won't do anything they shouldn't.
I appreciate that tracking people would be aided by being able to see what they have bought and where they have travelled, but even if people have just their own cards and otherwise behave legally it still doesn't stop them from doing anything harmful to the country.
And if you throw illegal behaviour into the mix and even with full coverage of the population it just means that the wrong people will use others' id's to do illegal stuff, while they use their own for legal things.
I wonder how you would prove that your card has been stolen? would the Police believe you are the person you say you are if you can't produce your ID card?
Too bored with this topic to carry on.
Why such crappy colours? Do they change colour as the bearers mood changes or is this some sexist thing - girls are pink, boy's a blue and BBC Tv announcers are sort of in-between?
I never could figure out why you Brits always chose such pansy colours for these things.
it's all in the footnote
The critical thing is that passports are (probably) to become designated documents. You will still have to go to the interrogation centre to be fingerprinted etc and then the govt want to know where you live or they'll hit you with a fine.
The fuckwit postman has a vacuous article in the grauniad (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2009/jul/02/identity-cards-fraud-cost) which is so trite he may even have written it himself. He moves on from 'instinctive' support (handy, no reasons required..) to saying they will stop so called identity theft (Ross Anderson has things to say about this). My feeling is that it will make 'identity theft' much easier; fake ID card? that'll do nicely. No need to faff around with fake electricity bills and dodgy driving licences.
And, as you say, the database is still there...
Can't insist on just ID cards...
So they can't insist someone having an ID card, they have to give a choice, I imagine the other option will be a passport, this way they still get you onto the database anyway!
Like anything else about ID cards and databases (and most everything else, come to that) put out by this clapped out power crazed excuse for a government, this latest is a mixture of weasel words, dissembling, half truths and probably lies as well.
Oliver Cromwell to Parliament: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go." That was in 1653, and pretty damn appropriate for 2009 too.
Ur Doing it Wrong
In Europe you can buy knives and alcohol and your age isn't tested. Somehow UK manages to have the highest knife crime and teenage drinking (and teenage pregnancy) problem in Europe.
So now the UK is proposing to shove ID cards onto adults to prove they are adult? And that is OK because they look young and these things are so dangerous that they need to be protected from themselves?
Nanny knows best, and don't let the statistics fool you into thinking their clueless idiots, no sir. In fact perhaps you should need an id card to view statistics.... with websites blocked by the IWF.. maybe submit your browser history and ID card for checking and then the IWF will let you see Wikipedia statistics pages?
Or am I putting ideas into Nanny's head?
Don't be fooled, they are bring in ID cards for everyone...
These manipulate devious control freaks are still bring in the ID cards. This move isn't stopping the cards. But now they are bring them in more slower over a long time scale, at first voluntary. Its bring them in more slowly by exploiting feature creep. It starts off as its voluntary for this and its voluntary for that. Then it becomes it helps this and it helps that. Then it becomes its important to this and its important to that. Then it becomes its required for this and its required for that. Then finally it becomes its mandatory for this and its mandatory for that and then eventually you can't do anything without the cards. Then finally they get what they aimed to do all along.
After all, why bring them in at all if they don't have long term plans for them to be used. They know ID cards are very unpopular and so now they are starting to tread more carefully. They also know their relentless greedy power grabbing nature is hated by everyone. (In this case power grabbing via information grabbing on people for their own gain (after all, information is power)), so now they are just treading more carefully, time to boil the frog more carefully so to speak. Ironically many people are initially fooled into believing its not going to happen. Exactly what the control freaks want, as it means over time they will now face less resistance to them bring them in more slowly.
The greedy control freaks always want more power, so they see ID cards as their next step in gaining more knowledge and power as usual ultimately for their gain (at our expense). After all the very nature of seeking power over someone else is to seek to dictate terms to them and they personally gain from having that control.
"failing to notify of a change of address remain"
Anyone know what the definition of address used for
"failing to notify of a change of address remain"
(are students going to have to notify 6 times a year for example)
Beyond the ideology there is often some practicality.
It isn't clear to me whether it's the physical carrying of an ID card that is no longer compulsory or whether you can decline to have your ID details entered in the database. With biometrics - such as iris scanning - it is possible to search an entire country's population in a few seconds and find the matching ID. So it doesn't matter if you carry a physical card or not - if your biometric is in the database, then you're already carrying your card.
There's only ONE card they need:
The FAIL card - accepted everywhere.
When the welfare state was created everybodies National Insurance number was lifted from the wartime ID card scheme. I still have my old ID card - it was required until the end of rationing in 1953.
We would not need a new identity system if the government had not given away free NI numbers like so much confetti. Properly managed, they alone would have been enough to keep track of who was entitled to what.
Since they government undermined this venerable, and once fool-proof, system what faith can we have in anything else they propopse?
Uh, so can I get one if I live outside the UK?
.. and will they want me to update my foreign address whenever I move? I really just want the wallet-sized passport substitute!
ID cards in Germany
German citizens are obliged to have a "Personalausweis", costing 8 Euros (13 Euros for a change of name). It is issued at the local council offices, in person. It is paper with a photograph, all laminated. There are a bunch of details: Name, date of birth, address, nationality, etc. - but there are no RFID chips, retina scans or fingerprints involved. Permanent changes of address should be registered within three months.
It is all fairly straightforward and without the associated national snoopery so beloved in the UK, locals don't object to it. Shops like these as proof of ID and address for credit and some businesses will sell goods on account, sending the invoice to the name and address on the ID card.
Why does the UK government have to make it so draconian and expensive?
@AC "compulsory database"
..." it is possible to search an entire country's population in a few seconds and find the matching ID. So it doesn't matter if you carry a physical card or not - if your biometric is in the database, then you're already carrying your card."...
Since you ask actually no, it's not like that at all. DNA, Iris and Fingerprint do not work in real life like they do in say CSI at all.
When IPS ran tests to fingerprint people for the new passports a sizable percentage did not work at all, the data gathered was not good enough to prove ID as people’s finger prints do change slightly over time and from day to day. The older you get for example the less clear your fingerprints become. Fingerprints 'work' for crimes (even in criminal law there are documented cases of people just happening to have similar prints), but they only 'work' as well as they do because you have highly trained people manually checking them...
Iris is hopeless; I don't know if you ever stood in line at Heathrow and watched the Iris machines? I have, and the only reason they are faster is so few people use them in my experience - I regularly see people having several attempts to get the thing to recognise them, and occasionally having to resort to the manual 'join the queue' option anyway - I don’t know the reason for this but according to magazine articles a few years ago they had a problem with bloodshot eyes, tired eyes and brown eyes (warning: a pinch of salt may be required there)
DNA checks are perhaps the biggest fallacy here - they are widely believed to be unique per person (since your DNA is) and you are widely supposed to be able to take a blood sample and from this and a DNA library get straight to the killer... Not in real life, in real life your entire DNA sequence is not stored (it's huge). Instead they only store representative markers, small snapshots of certain areas of your DNA, of which I believe there are only 1million possible combinations. That's if the DNA sample is perfect, the sun is shining and everything goes perfectly. In reality it’s a chemical process and you get less reliability
So even if you did give your perfect DNA sample, have it perfectly analyzed and stored and have it perfectly matched it would still only narrow you down to 1 in 60 people in the UK population
Anyway that was a bit more than I was intending to type but that's why cards are still required - it’s also why the idea of using biometrics on a database to solve crimes is a dangerous fallacy at best
Hope it helps
I blame the unCivil Service in the Home Office
I suspect it's the Home Office mandarins who are the real driving force behind the whole ID card/database scheme, after all, while an ID card provides almost no benefits to the governed a complete database of all citizens makes managing a governing bureaucracy much easier.
Should that be the case I'd not be at all surprised to find a revised version of this policy coming from the Home Office regardless who happens to be, nominally, in power after the election
Im off then...
A false sense of security is worse than no security & thats what these dorks are fostering
Clearly one of Labours chums is on the board of a company who might dip out if its all cancelled
Re: Compulsory Database?
That's absolutely clear. You were always going to go onto the database whether you accepted the ID card or not, and you're still going to go onto it under the current plans. The difference now is that as ID cards are 'never' (ahem) gonig to be compulsory, your right to refuse the plastic is not going to expire when they do make them compulsory.
The german ID card, when it was intoroduced as a machine-readable update to the old-style "mini-passport" booklets is a plastic card, but larger than a standard IBM-format and thinnner, more like what you get out of your office laminator.
And from experience, it's not robust enough.
To scrape ice off the windscreen in winter.
Mine's the one with the packets of Sauerkraut in the pockets.
Another in a long line of lies and spin
I don't know how they have the nerve to continue with this scheme. Every single statement that has ever been made about it has either been a lie, shameless spin, or an appeal to the latest cause célèbre that has quietly been dropped six months later. You'd have to be mad to believe any of it.
This card will be voluntary in the way that if you don't mind your life being as twice as complicated, then you are free to not own one. If you wish all the same conveniences of modern society that you currently consider a right, you have to get a card. Just don't lose it or have it stolen, cos it's the card that will own those rights, not you. You gave them all up the minute you allowed them to be embedded on the chip and entered into the database.
The actual reason the government wish this card is the same as it's always been. It gives government more power, and makes people easier to control. And naturally the easiest of all are those who are innocent and have "nothing to hide". For criminals and terrorists the ID card is more of an additional opportunity to exploit than any kind of hindrance.
You don't need ID cards.
All you need is RFID sub-dermal implants and a network of sensors to track your every movement.
Here's a funny thing.
In Spain we all have ID cards and have to carry them.
Recently the rules were changed and foreigners can no longer obtain a Spanish ID card even if they live permanantly in Spain.
The cards are so useful that nearly all the ex pat brits are going nuts because they cant have one!
How about that for a turn arround!
Proof of age
This is bollocks.
The provisional driving license is only £50.
So you can get a proof of age card for £50. And drive with it...
Finger-prints and DNA profiles both work in a similar fashion. As you say, the DNA profile is not a DNA sequence, it is a profile based on splitting the DNA strand with chemicals and building a profile from how long each of the strands left actually are.
The old-fashioned finger-prints work in a similar way, they aren't looking at each whorl and spiral, they are looking for significant points in the print - for example where is the whorl centred, where do the lines bend and so on. The "print" the computer is matching looks more like an old vector graphic from the 80's than an actual print. Which is why they should always be manually checked after.
As for the DNA profile, there are actually only around 20 people in the world who will have the same profile as you. Unfortunately, they are also most likely to be related to you, which narrows it down to more like 20 people in any country.
Either way, they are far from infallible and AFAIK no case has ever depended solely on either of these for that very reason.
Which is the big argument against the database. If someone wants my prints, they should have reasonable grounds for asking for them, they should not be able to trawl a database and then arrest all the potentials - thats the wrong way round, the evidence needs to points to the criminal (all of it), one piece of evidence (thats highly susceptible to be mis-read) should never be the basis.
Existing ID Documents
Passports and Driving Licences have that portable biometric, a photo of the holder.
I don't like the way companies in the employment business want passport details, but we should remember that they are personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Acts, and make life awkward for them. Somebody needs to design a "Receipt of Transfer of Personal Data". Heck, taking a photocopy of somebody's passport almost seems like the first step in passport forgery.
Last I checked, five minutes ago, Driving Licences have age and address data.
Last time I signed up with a video rental shop, they wanted to see utility bills as proof of my address. Since then, everyone seems to be trying to make us switch to electronic billing. BT make an extra charge. The banks are talking about moving away from cheques.
The practical solution may be some form of new identity card, or is may just be walloping a few organisations with a statutory clue-by-four about the validity of the existing government-issued ID.
If somebody wants me to prove their age, I already have a government-issued document with my photo, date of birth, and address. The agency which issued it has a record of me going back to 1975. If that can't be a lawfully sufficient proof of age, why should any new ID card be any better.
Speaking as a bona fide foreigner
I'd like to say that I'm looking forward to handing over my personal details. Nothing can go wrong, can it?
Groeten uit Holland
The Dutch are actually ahead of you all. Compulsory ID cards been here for years. Yes to fight terrorism and to keep our children safe.
That's why 150 Dutch people get fined each and every day (totaling up to over 100,000 now) for failing to show their ID card on demand. These are not all rapists and terrorists caught red handed, these are equally likely to be the people stopped as part of routine checks like alcohol tests or preventive searching.
And yes, the Dutch ID card will have fingerprint metrics (starting 21 sept 2009) and yes it'll all be stored in a database.
So don't think it can't happen. We thought it couldn't and we where wrong.
I put myself on the list to be issued with one as soon as they become available. Sometimes I hate not being paranoid, I feel I am missing something.
They should go the whole hog, take a DNA sample from people at birth or on entering the country, generate your national insurance number with this sample, nuff said.
"Why does the UK government have to make it so draconian and expensive?"
Because they can.
Because they view the former East German state as model of well controlled government.
Because after a decade under the influence of Tony Blair the standard model Labour Minister thinks 1984 is a blueprint, not a warning.
As I have explained the UK has a tradition of a UK subject (as in subject of the Sovereign) don't have to carry stuff issued by an Authority to prove they are who they say they are.
We do have a history of policy making by (usually) unknown senior civil servants who being typically Oxbridge Arts graduates are never knowingly handicapped by knowing an IT project is deeply stupid. They are often abetted by equally clueless Oxbridge Arts grad ministers forming a Coaltion of the Willing (as Bush II liked to call us in Iraq and Afgahistan). And then we have the drooling Government IT contractors for whom the answer is always yes, unless the client want's it to be no (like whether the ID card databases could ever be broken into).
Hope that helps.
Ahhh, looking into my crystal ball, I seeeee.....
One day, perhaps a year from now, walking into Tescos on Market Street in Manc, sans "none compulsory ID card" only to be told I can't buy a tin of beer, or a spoon without showing ID. Sadly, if the fuckwits who read the Daily Fucking Fail and believe the crime rate in Britain is higher than South Africa are anything to go by, Britain will continue to sleep walk itself into its own New World Order.
Ex-pats in Spain
@bilston: it would certainly be easier to have a single credit-card sized card rather than needing to carry an A4 certificate of NIE* and my passport for things like the declaration of income. I'm not going nuts, though: for everyday purposes I just carry my driving licence photocard and a couple of photocopies of my passport.
The biggest problem I encounter is that many Spaniards conflate the two and so sometimes bureaucrats will say you need one when you really need the other (or both).
For my part, as I think I've said before in comments here, I would gladly pay £30 for a card equivalent to my passport which didn't require any additional biometrics, centralised database entries, etc.
* Roughly equivalent to NI number
Magma Carta Digitalis
My God, but don't you poms need to put down your collective feet and utter a resounding shout "NO MORE"!
As a Merkin, I had always assumed that we were heavilly surveilled in the States, that was until my honeymoon in London in 1992. CCD Cameras were everywhere, patrons were practically cavity searched when attending the theatre or the opera, and one abandonned package or backpack was sufficient to shut down major train and subway lines.
Since 9/11, things have gotten almost as bad over here, but there comes a point whee enough is enough. As a law abiding, adult citizen I neither want nor need to have the government collecting every scrap of info about my supposedly private life. Add to this the institution of Carnivore (total information awareness), and we'll soon be in a situation where the government knows when my wife will ovulate, the exact number and location of my haemeroids, who'll inherit my counterfeit Tiffany Lamp (including the verification that it is a counterfeit), along with scads of other facts and surmises that it neither needs nor can protect from concerted hacking (by both criminals and corporations alike).
It has become very difficult to live these days without leaving an incredibally detailed digital trail of our doings and longings. The vastajority of this data is purely private, and should not be readily available without a judge-ordered warrant. In these days of sneak and peak surveillance, warrantless wiretaps, and the fawning, pro-government cooperation provided by major corporations that have access to our personal data, we all must stand up and box the ears of our senators, representatives, assemblymenn and members of parliament to enact CONSTITUTIONAL protections against the current governmental and corporate onslaught on our privacy. With the scope of data collection, databasing, and aggressive data-mining comes the clear and present danger of governmental and corporate control. It's all well and good for Labour (or the Democrats)to profess benign interest in and use of our personal data, but what happens when governments change and purposes become more sinister?
re: ID cards in Germany
Thats the real laugh. When you talk to people from other European states about this, they are almost invariably bemused by the objections here - after all everyone else has one and they're not being lined up for cattle trucks. What they miss, I think, is the current gov't and the general british mentality.
Current pseudo-Labour scum aside, we have been instinctively against ID cards every time they've been pimped in my lifetime, and there's been quite a few times by both Tory and Labour over the years, usually no more than a half hearted fishing expedition done bi-annually to counter some threat "from them in foreign".
I suspect the truth is that we recognise something very, very dark in ourselves, an instinct toward out-of-control authoritarianism on the one side and quiet acquiescence on the other that should never be indulged to even the mildest degree or it will just take hold and spread, ending up with war crimes trials or worse way down the line. We indulge our instincts at our peril.
Spain, yes erm
It was a fascist dictatorship until about 20 years ago, remember?
Not a good model I fear.
I've just had my personal data sold by the DVLA - can't trust the bastards and they can fek off. And yes, I am going to complain and ask for compo even though I know it won't get me anywhere. Making it uneconomic is the only way to stamp this kind of thing out.
Alright, let's sum up how this fails
So, we are to be issued with bits of plastic with stuff printed on them in a manner supplied by the cheapest bidder (meaning forgery will be relatively easy). The biometrics and personal information will be stored on the card, to be accessed by yet-to-be-designed chip'n'pin and RFID technology, with the Chip'n'Pin as the fallback identification system. For the vast majority of people, they will be authenticating themselves against a token that they themselves carry and which if it conforms to standards is assumed to be legitimate.
Am I the only person who sees the great, gaping flaws in this plan?
As soon as the cards are issued, various organised criminal gangs will want one to disassemble it and see how it works. The few hundred people in Manchester who want one are very likely a mixture of highly indoctrinated Labour wonks and organised criminals' patsies.
As soon as you can duplicate the appearance of a genuine ID card and can produce a chip and pin unit which contains either your biometrics or simply has none at all but reports to the reader that any PIN that it is supplied with is correct, then you have a tool beyond compare for a fraudster.
Fraud is essentially pretending you are someone whom you are not so that the police find it difficult to catch you after you steal things. To commit fraud effectively, a good way of convincing people that you are who you pretend to be is necessary, and what better than an ID Card which purports to be 100% secure, but which is actually utter rubbish?
Even better if the law demands that this card be accepted as proof of identity; all a criminal has to do is make this one item convincing and he's cracked most of his problems in one go.
It's much, much worse than that.
Right now, there are *no* readers for the chip on the card. At all. None. Nada.
IPS will get a small number 'soon' to use at border control. (Soon is undefined)
At present, the official advice to determine if an ID card is genuine is to "flick it and listen to the sound". I'm serious - I asked at my local immigrant testing centre.
So there's no need for the criminal classes to put anything on the chip at all.
And these cards have been issued since Nov 2008 to all immigrants.
@Dr Dan Holdsworth
"As soon as the cards are issued, various organised criminal gangs will want one to disassemble it and see how it works. "
Already started if your a non-EU student or visitor.
You can bet the 1st generation reverse engineering is well under way.
"To commit fraud effectively, a good way of convincing people that you are who you pretend to be is necessary, and what better than an ID Card which purports to be 100% secure, but which is actually utter rubbish?"
BTW you did not mention the NIR. All your ID document numbers and the details to claim a few spare copies in one handy (and I suspect) not very secure package. Look at "Industrial scale identity theft in the DWP around 2006).
Now what will you do about it?
Forgery doesn't have to be that hard
From what I understand the card readers are expensive and hard to come by, which means that for most everyday puposes fake cards only need to look like the real thing and not act like it.
Instant fail! Of course chip and pin couldn't be broken (except when it has been) either, but they found a way. The problem is the criminals can afford to pay for better minds than the government (which TBH isn't that hard).
Having seen, first hand, how talented most big consultancy staff are, I am not surprised we keep getting substandard systems and poor projects.
The Tories have pledged to scrap the NIR
On this morning's Today programme David Cameron in an interview with John Humphrys used the following words: "The National Identity Register needs to go." That was an unequivocal statement. No ifs or buts about "scrapping the IC card". No, if the Tories intend to scrap the NIR, then the whole caboodle is done for.
I'm trying to develop a machine which 'flicks' the ID Card in a uniform manner.
The Government (ha, ha) has said that the cards will have a distinctive sound when flicked. This 'feature' is to be used in the absence of card readers.
I'm thinking of calling the machine "Herr Flik".
Anyone willing to back me with, say, £1,000,000,000?
ah, but you are not a law abiding citizen. You've admitted to a counterfeit Tiffany Lamp. There you go, best lock you up straight away.
It's quite hard to obey all the laws these days, and getting harder with every new crap law they pass.