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back to article Axeman Chancellor toes the line on ID cards

Alistair Darling is making a habit of taking an axe to the projects of his ministerial colleagues in media interviews, if this weekend's press is to be believed. Last week he forced health secretary Andy Burnham to give an emergency statement in the Commons by waxing confusedly lyrical on the Andrew Marr Show about how the NHS …

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Coat

No choice for the masses

You know, I really don't want biometric passports, and if the USoA doesn't want to let me in without one I'm quite unaffected; I have decided long ago, well before biometric passports became the fashion, to stay well out of xenophobia central. There's plenty of rest of the world left and most of it is more sensible to boot. I'd like the government to, like the Swiss government does, respect its citizens' choice and offer both biometric and privacy-respecting versions of the government service called a passport. Especially since the latter isn't vulnerable to rfid cloning, weak key algorithms, and other electronic attack vectors. I'd like the government to be a modicum trustable. Yes I know. *sigh*

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Happy

Cost savings?

Even better. We just make a policy decision not to go to the US. We can save the cost of biometrics in toto and the only thing that takes a hit is the US tourism industry.

I can't see a downside here.

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Unhappy

There's biometrics, and then there's biometric.

There is a *HUGE* difference between the "biometrics" in the current passport and those envisioned for the NIR / ID cards. The biometrics on the current passport, and all that is required by the US, are just a digital version of your picture so the immigration flunky can compare the digital pic with the printed pic and your own fizzog.

The US passport reqs are here:-

http://www.usembassy.org.uk/cons_new/visa/niv/mrp_bio.html

UK Gov doesn't need the NIR to comply with US immigration rules, but will add privacy invading fingerprints to your next Passport merely to get you onto the NIR (because they failed to do it with ID cards) . It is the NIR and the centralised storage of your biometrics with reverse-lookup capability (meaning you can be ID'd from your prints) that is the real evil. Once your prints are on the NIR, your passport and/or ID card are irrelevant as their only role was to get you onto the NIR in the first place.

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Big Brother

Technically...

Passports with a couple rows of gibberish printed in OCR-B already count as "machine readable", so technically, there is no actual need for RFID. It would be even more tamper resistant to print the pic as a 2d barcode, like QRcode or PDF417 or some even fancier, even denser format (dataglyph, anyone?). But that doesn't happen. Curious.

Especially since just about every country rolled out these eavesdropping sensitive RFID-enabled passports, and just about all of Europe, and as you say with apparently non-required fingerprints (BE, NL, DE already that I am sure about, more to follow), and far more personal information than before.

So why is Europe so busy pushing through big fat databases? I expect there will be another "data sharing" scheme coming up right on the heels of the financial one. So reciprocal that it's all one way toward the USoA and the only thing coming back is demands for MORE DATA. Carry on european government.

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Unhappy

biometric passport

can i opt out of the biometric passport & just have a normal one please, as i have no driving urge to visit the land of greed, marketing & most things evil, the USA?

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If only there were Arc spaceships available

like these guys had

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/guide/golgafrincham.shtml

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Megaphone

Tories

Yes of course they will scrap the scheme once they're in. They're completely trustworthy that way.

Expect it to be "scrapped" and then reappear a few months later under a different name.

It should be mandatory that for any election promise which is not met within the first year of power, an immediate re-election should be called and the ones who broke their promises are not allowed to take part.

That'd soon get us down to the weird sort of parties.... or they'd actually tell us the real, depressing truth - ie. Vote for us and we'll screw you over. Promise kept, job done.

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Let's cut them a little slack...

The Conservatives were opposing the ID card scheme at a point before the financial crisis when a) there was still money in the kitty, and b) it looked like ID cards were actually popular. So I think we can assume their opposition is reasonably serious, as they could perfectly easily have agreed with the policy without political cost, but decided (after a few wobbles) not to.

Given the apocalyptic levels of public debt, ID cards won't survive the next election, whoever wins, it's just less embarrassing for Labour to wait until they lose, than to back down now. There's sod all chance of Cameron re-introducing the policy, even if he wanted to, as £10 billion ain't going to be easy to find for a while...

Admittedly various Conservative Home Secretaries fell for the Home Office civil service spiel on ID cards in the 80s and 90s (Waddington, Clarke and Howard come to mind), but from memory none of them pursued the policy and it never lasted longer than a bit of light discussion.

Whilst a certain healthy scepticism is a requirement when approaching all political discussions, there's no need to go over the top - and in fact it makes all debate unhealthy if you assume that all politicians have the worst motives without good reason. It's also an incredibly lazy way to make an argument. Easy cynicism does not equal cleverness.

I approach the prospect of a Cameron government with the thought that surely he can't be worse than Brown, give him credit for the fact that (if he wins) he'll be taking over the the worst economic position since (at least) Attlee, and hope for the best. If his government is crap it will struggle to last even a single term, let alone two.

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Big Brother

No bio passport for me then

I will just let my passport expire and be stuck in this shitty little broke Orwellian country.

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Grenade

Department of Fatherland Security

"Most of the expenditure is on biometric passports which you and I are going to require shortly to get into the US"

Hahahaha, all you need to get into the US is for the peanut eating monkeys at the Pentagon to forget to set a password on Windows, then call their mates at Cheltenham who will trawl the ISP records, randomly choose a name and before you know it you are in an orange jumpsuit flying CIA rendition airways to the US of Assholes.

I used to travel to the US a lot and quite liked the country and the people but I am f**ked if I am going to put up with the border 'security' theatre and the facist little wankers in the Department of Fatherland Security, I think I'll go for a nice relaxing vacation in 1930s Germany as a black jewish political writer, less chance of being f**cked by the 'authorities'.

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Flame

Not compulsory?

Do people still buy this bull-crap? ID cards, when they come in, will be 100% compulsory and always have been; no matter what any MP or mandarin may say.

If you are too hard of thinking to understand why a "voluntary" card is compulsory, I'll type this slowly.

1) it's not the card, it's the database.

2) As cards will be accepted as "strong" ID, banks and other institutions will get twitchy if you don't have one.

3) Bureaucracy will "streamline" around the card and life will become difficult/hell if you don't have one.

Ergo - they are compulsory.

Of course, we don't need these cards and we have never needed these cards. All they will do is foster a counter-culture designed to protect our privacy. And good luck to them! The people of Britain now need to protect themselves from their own government (never mind the unelected asshats in Brussels).

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Cancelling will save

"It turned out that savings of ... less than 5 per cent of the total budget "

The contractors will get paid whether it works or not.

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but note that 5%

Only we know what the system has cost so far.

Who knows how much it would cost in future. And we should be able to quantify the benefits and cost savings so far as well.

Badger won't dump ID cards. they have the smell of a ministerial legacy deal between Blair and Brown in the same way Blair promised to do the Millenium Dome to Heseltine.

If anyone saw the Politics Show on BBC last week you'll know their shadow health minister reckoned the big problem was the centralised system as opposed to strong data sharing standards and funding local trusts to get what they wanted *provided* it could share data when needed.

It would seem that the Conservatives near term IT policy should be "review everything done and cancel most of the ones setting up new databasees."

thumbs down for ID cards and Darling not dumping them and their pustulant NIR.

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MJI
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Big Brother

Why don't they give up?

We don't want them - give up on your control freak obsession badger

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Joke

New plitical term

Should a news report, statement or interview in which our beloved Chancellor opines government should shut donw/cut/merge some massively expensive and overdue system perhaps be referred to as a "Badgering."

Just a thought.

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Heart

Starkadder

I am English, have visited the USA regularly for almost forty years, and lived there for twenty years. American immigration procedures are very sensible and administered by courteous and well trained officials. I have made over 150 trips to the USA and always been well treated. In contrasts my returns to England have often been unpleasant, with rude and officious border guards have hassled me (despite being English!) and I have arrived at filthy, disorganised and overcrowded airports that are distinctly third world in feeling. Americans are not xenophobic, far from it. Those that criticise the US for introducing digital passports should realise that their data requirements are minimal - no more than a digital photograph.

The vast amounts of data sought for the National Identity Register in the UK are self generated needs. Neither the USA nor the EU has any such needs, or has suggested amassing such information. It is the Home Office's bureaucracy which is determined to create a monstrous citizen database which wiil track us all from cradle to grave. They have been temporarily foiled, but until the UK has a constitution, and our citizens real rights that are protected in courts of law, they will keep trying. We have won the battle (probably) but the war continues.

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Conservatives Guarantee to Scrap NIR database and ID Cards

I have a letter from my MP guaranteeing that the Conservative party will scrap NIR and ID Cards if elected at the next election.

I will keep them to that statement!

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FAIL

A politician's promises

Sure, that'll fucking work. We can all relax because David Ramsay's MP has promised to scrap ID cards and the NIR if re-elected. It's not as if politicians lie or spout whatever bullshit they think will get them re-elected, is it? And how precisely will you keep your MP to that statement? What will you do when the Cameroons decide that these ID cards and NIR are really jolly useful and need to be made compulsory because the Murdoch press and the Daily Hate thinks they will protect house prices or stop asylum seekers sponging off the state?

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Hmmm...

.... I have a sneaky feeling that rights are going to be protected by the Tories if they get in.

My justification is twofold.

1)There ain't going to be any money for this shit

2) For god's sake- they are Tories. If ever there was a bunch of politicians who don't want people knowing where they are, what they are doing etc. it's them.

Do you seriously think that databases of electronic communications, bulletproof ID cards ("My name? Bob Smith, officer, now if you'll let me wander on with my young male friend..."), veting and standards lists are all contrary not only in principle, but also in practice to them.

Multiple young mistresses (Alan Clark), kinky sex (Stephen Milligan), dodgy money (Neil Hamilton), lying to the court (Jonathan Aitken, Jeffrey Archer)- they get up to all kinds of stuff that they don't want to get out.

Oh, hang on, I just noticed sommat...

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