back to article Former UK PM Tony Blair urges governments to sort out online ID

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has once again stuck his head above the parapet - this time to call for "a proper identity system in the UK" to underpin digital government. In a foreword to the report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change - a not-for-profit organisation which has received £9m in donations …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change?

    Still too big for his boots all these years on.

    1. horse of a different color

      Still, nice to see him take a break from prostrating himself before the nearest dictator with a cheque book.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        "a not-for-profit organisation which has received £9m in donations from Saudi Arabia"

        Sounds to me like he's still bending over for cash.

    2. Persona Bronze badge

      Best summed up by this Mac cartoon from 2017

      https://images.app.goo.gl/Z1bY4fyULEqRCjUQ9

      1. MrTuK

        Classic

        Hahahahah brilliant !

    3. Flywheel Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Given the consistent nature of his client base I'd say he's in a great position to effect Global Change. All those WMDs .. and this time they actually exist!

      Icon.. because it's appropriate.

  2. Bloodbeastterror

    Yeuch...

    Isn't this shameless greedy parasitic Thatcher-in-trousers ever going to fade into the swamp back under his slimy stone where he deserves to be rather than swanning round the world raking in cash from despots? A thoroughly vile failed human being who destroyed the Labour party right from the word go - inviting Thatcher back into Downing Street, taking bribes from Bernie Ecclestone to allow cigarette advertising on F1 cars... and then ever downhill from that low starting point.

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: Yeuch...

      Your hatred of Thatcher shows through the silly mischaracterisation of the man who started the process of squandering her legacy.

      1. James Anderson Silver badge

        Re: Yeuch...

        Thatchers legacy,

        Water companies that leak water.

        The crappest railways in Europe.

        Turning safe friendly building societies in to Toxic banks.

        Electricity companies that scam thier customers.

        The gas company that failed to provide a reliable supply and is in hoc to Putin.

        Could go on but nearly all that is dysfunctional and annoying about the UK is down to Thatcher's neo-liberal fanaticism.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeuch...

          James, if the Tories are really that bad then how come the incoming Labour governments always start off with lots more available money ('cash' and reserves) than what they leave behind after their usual splurges on vanity projects and self-promotion thinly disguised as "improving public services" - Tony Bliar is a prime example, having released hundreds of convicted terrorists to bribe Sinn Fein to sign off on the Good Friday agreement while encouraging human rights lawyers to pursue cases against British soldiers sent into Iraq on his orders.

          I don't know which mirror world you have been living in but Labour is not better than the Tories, they just use different ways to screw the voters over. Look at the fact that more Labour voters voted to leave the European Union than any other party's supporters, but the most vocal opponents of actually leaving are... the Labour Party.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yeuch...

            Oooh, an AC who didn't spot Thatcher selling off the welfare state.

            Where do you think all the council houses she spunked away came from? That was a tory plan to give housing to the plebs, was it?

          2. ArrZarr Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Yeuch...

            The Tories really are that bad.

            It's just depressing that Labour manage to be worse.

            It's a good job that there are so many other relevant parties who have a hope of getting into power.

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Yeuch...

          @James Anderson

          "Water companies that leak water."

          But less than when in government hands. Massive increase of investment since privatisation and improved quality- https://capx.co/privatisation-is-driven-by-the-evidence-not-ideology/

          "The crappest railways in Europe."

          Rail is nationalised. The franchise is private and since there are complaints of high prices that requires more trains and that requires more rail. Contracts are being cancelled because the rail investment isnt happening and costing the private companies who would otherwise provide more service.

          "Electricity companies that scam thier customers."

          In what way (this is an honest question as there are a few interpretations)?

          "The gas company that failed to provide a reliable supply and is in hoc to Putin."

          We have fracking. It is our choice if we wish to be dependent on gas imports, however my understanding was that we are not so dependent on Russia and that was an issue mostly for mainland Europe.

          "Could go on but nearly all that is dysfunctional and annoying about the UK is down to Thatcher's neo-liberal fanaticism."

          Pre-Thatcher was a country begging the IMF and unable to function due to unions. Blackouts, poor infrastructure and generally poor way of living until the country was freed up to act.

          1. Gio Ciampa

            Re: Yeuch...

            "Rail is nationalised. The franchise is private and since there are complaints of high prices that requires more trains and that requires more rail. Contracts are being cancelled because the rail investment isnt happening and costing the private companies who would otherwise provide more service."

            We could have plenty more rail, if we weren't spaffing hundreds of billions on HS2 instead...

            ...or bailing out the likes of National Express, Stagecoach, Virgin et al when they decide they somehow can't make any money so want to parachute out of their contract...

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Yeuch...

              @Gio Ciampa

              "We could have plenty more rail, if we weren't spaffing hundreds of billions on HS2 instead..."

              Well said. This northern powerhouse rubbish and trying to make an expensive high speed train set that will not be high speed and even more expensive is unnecessary.

              "...or bailing out the likes of National Express, Stagecoach, Virgin et al when they decide they somehow can't make any money so want to parachute out of their contract..."

              Some of these of course being due to the breaking of said contracts by the public rail system.

              1. Gio Ciampa

                Re: Yeuch...

                It was National Express (and later on, Virgin/Stagecoach) who walked from the East Coast Main Line contract ... what public entity was "breaking" it?

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: Yeuch...

                  @Gio Ciampa

                  "It was National Express (and later on, Virgin/Stagecoach) who walked from the East Coast Main Line contract ... what public entity was "breaking" it?"

                  The government/public rail. They promised to upgrade the lines by a certain date, they didnt, the route was worth less than what was bid because Network Rail failed to deliver. Network rail is responsible-

                  https://continentaltelegraph.com/tax/encouraging-overbidding-is-the-point-of-the-train-franchising-system/

                  https://continentaltelegraph.com/uncategorized/dont-forget-what-stagecoach-has-lost-the-taxpayer-has-gained-on-the-east-coast-line/

                  1. Gio Ciampa

                    Re: Yeuch...

                    They overbid - plain and simple...

                    1. codejunky Silver badge

                      Re: Yeuch...

                      @Gio Ciampa

                      "They overbid - plain and simple..."

                      Yes because the public owned network rail failed to fulfil their part of the deal. If they had actually delivered the upgrades promised then the private companies would probably still be running the line. They overbid because network rail over-promised.

        3. A.A.Hamilton

          Re: Yeuch...

          Illuminating analysis; shame about the spelling, grammar and punctuation.

        4. MrMerrymaker Bronze badge

          Re: Yeuch...

          May also sold weapons

      2. Bloodbeastterror

        Re: Yeuch...

        "silly mischaracterisation"

        I have absolutely no clue what your comment is intended to mean...

        But of course I hate Thatcher (spit), as any decent human being does. Another failed attempt at a human being, no feeling for people, only worship for money, a thoroughly bad woman who destroyed huge swathes of British manufacturing, sold at knock-down prices the gas, telephone and water (water, FFS!) infrastructure that we had all paid for via taxation, all out of ideological dogmatism; and also ruined the lives of millions while enriching her wealthy cronies. I have no doubt the vile creature would have privatised air if she'd been able to come up with a way of achieving it. I drank a toast the day she died. Good riddance.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Yeuch...

          Lots of downvotes and no rebuttals? That's how you know you've hit the nail on the head.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: Yeuch...

            Well, for all her faults and flawed policies she exhibited the one characteristic that is absolutely required in a leader, and something that this country struggles with in all of its politicians these days.

            She wasn't weak.

            1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Yeuch...

              More than that, whether you agreed with her or not, she actually believed in what she did, and could justify it when asked. It wasn't just the blow-with-the-wind means to get re-elected we see from most of today's politicians on all sides.

            2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Yeuch...

              What's so great about a strong leader who's wrong ?

              1. Bloodbeastterror

                Re: Yeuch...

                Agree. Mao, Pol Pot, Erdogan, Trump. Just off the top of my head. And need I mention Godwin?

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Yeuch...

                She also destroyed community. Everyone for themselves.

                This is why we are in the mess we are in now, when idiots think brexit is a good idea because it will "only affect others, who i don't care about"

                The fact that these dumb turkeys will be hit hardest will be little comfort to the rest of us dragged down by their moronic selfishness.

                1. Libertarian Voice

                  Re: Yeuch...

                  I am afraid that the dumb turkeys are the ones that voted for Christmas because they were told that goose was on the menu. Let us be honest here for a moment: When asked if they wanted less government, less control over their daily lives, fewer politicians and less regulation 48 percent of voters said NO! Seriously!!! How fucking thick are 48 percent of voters?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yeuch...

          And she condemned tens of thousands of families to life on the dole across generations.

          If her policies didn't adversely affect you, she's a great leader. Otherwise, she is considered by many to be a life-ruiner.

          1. Warm Braw Silver badge

            Re: Yeuch...

            she condemned tens of thousands of families to life on the dole across generations

            If you look at the history of the heavy engineering industries, it's one of casual employment, poor wages, ill health and environmental contamination. I grew up in a mining area - the place was littered with spoil heaps, coal waste was just dumped on beaches to be washed away by the sea and men died early, usually from a combination of silicosis and smoking. Nevertheless, there was an almost Stakhanovite worship of the miner - a home for the elderly had to be built with smaller rooms than would otherwise have been possible as the local authority insisted it be fitted with coal-fired heating (which meant a large and expensive automatic feeder system) to help ensure there was continuing demand for what the "lads" produced. Every purpose was distorted in favour of what was in reality a small proportion of the work force.

            It could have ended differently, but it had to end. It's all very well looking back, misty-eyed, at the pre-Thatcher times as a socialist nirvana, but it was in fact the fag end of the Victorian era, shorn of any significant investment and entirely dependent on constant government intervention. Not that all government intervention was necessarily bad - Edward Heath was pretty much obliged to nationalise Rolls Royce and that worked out quite well - but by their very nature governments can't really do long term planning and history shows more intervention failures than successes.

            1. richardcox13

              Re: Yeuch...

              WHS x 100!

              Common myths of manufacturing: destroyed!

              No, total economic value of UK manufacturing is as high (in real terms) as ever (and in the US it has grown: where people also talk about the "destruction of manufacturing")..

              Manufacturing employment is a different matter: lots of low skill jobs have been replaced by automation. With a move from old heave industries to component building and assembly. And manufacturing as a proportion of the economy has reduced: but that's because services have grown, not because manufacturing has shrunk.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Yeuch...

            And she condemned tens of thousands of families to life on the dole across generations.

            Rubbish. It was the pre-Thatcher Labour policies, set by the greed of over-powerful unions, that were doing that.

            My grandfather was a shipyard riveter, he had to turn up at the yard each day to see if there was any work. If there was he got a day's pay, if not he & his family went hungry. No dole, no benefits. My father worked to became a salesman, not rich but we never went without the essentials. Thanks to the Thatcher changes I was able to go to University, get a good job, and earn more than my father ever did. She put the country back on its feet, and gave us a sense of pride in our own work. For those willing to work.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Yeuch...

              And if you were unable to work due to health, or simply couldn't find work you were demonised as a scrounger.

              The them, and us, and "I'm alright mate" culture that has brought us brexit

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Yeuch...

                Just like the Thatcher supporting Daily Fail does 30 years later, you mean?

    2. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Yeuch...

      You never lived, no existed in the seventies...

    3. OssianScotland Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Yeuch...

      Unfortunately getting rid of T BLiar will require silver bullets, wooden stakes or possibly both (just to make sure). Nuking from orbit is likely to only encourage him (for 45 minutes, anyway)

      Obvious icon

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tony Blair Institute for Global Change not-for-profit organisation in donations from Saudi Arabia

    Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

    not-for-profit organisation

    donations from Saudi Arabia

    What's wrong with the above collage? Well, apparently nothing. Fuck.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

      "Tony Blair Institute for Global Change"

      How is that initialised? T.BIG.C?

      Icon, 'cos allegedly she likes it.

      (El Reg doesn't like the title when the Re is added - There are some problems with your post. The title is too long.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

      actually, a cherry on top would be a quote from their mission statement how they "champion for human rights throughout the world" and "constructively engage leaders and governments". But, given the sponsorship, they wouldn't be risk putting "human" and "rights" anywhere near their front page. "Global Change" is safe, ANY "sponsor" can sign (a transfer) under that! And, ya know, if Conservative government's going to collapse post-brexit, GBP 9 million is a safe bet to cover your bases and get back-end access to those in power...

    3. The Nazz Silver badge

      Re: Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

      I notice they didn't (couldn't) add "For the Better" to that title. Surprise, surprise, says Cilla, not.

      Weird, couldn't sounds a little like what the man is, give or take say 3 letters.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

        "couldn't sounds a little like what the man is, give or take say 3 letters"

        That's OLD, man!

  4. TRT Silver badge

    I'm very sure...

    he's got a dossier about it. Yessiree. He just can't lay his hands on it at the moment.

  5. Tomato42 Silver badge

    ironic

    Ironic that the country that is most against ID cards "because fascism" and "because War" is the one sliding towards authoritarianism

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: ironic

      People have difficulty joining the dots.

    2. codejunky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: ironic

      @Tomato42

      "Ironic that the country that is most against ID cards "because fascism" and "because War" is the one sliding towards authoritarianism"

      This has got to be one of the most hammer meet nail head comments I have read in a while. Other countries are doing so too so we are not alone and we can see some further down the path and others not far behind. Hopefully we can avoid reaching that destination. Lets hope the pendulum swings back the other way soon.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: ironic

        They should have a referendum about identity cards. Yes, I can't wait to tell them to stuff it in the nether regions. As soon as my polling ID card hits the mat, I'll be off down the polling station to register my objection.

    3. A Dawson
      Megaphone

      Re: ironic

      Papieren bitte

  6. ratfox Silver badge

    It's a little bit weird to most of the world that the UK and the US technically have no database of their citizens.

    Of course, they do have pretty wide databases, if only for tax purposes, and soon it won't even be possible to fly in the US without a "Real ID"...

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Try having a baby or a dead relative and not reporting it to the authorities.

      They have a record for every one of us. The issue with ID is having to prove who you are. I certainly won't be carrying one.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Try having dead relative and reporting it to the authorites.

        I can only assume civil servants came up with the name "Tell Us Once" as some kind of office bet.

      2. The Nazz Silver badge

        Con census

        Oh boy, the census due in 2021 is going to be a whole heap of fun.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And actually someone in US is taking advantage of it denying voting rights to the people less willingly to vote for them. In other countries you don't need to register to vote, and it's far harder to deny you voting rights when they can't put the burrden on you to demonstrate you have such rights. But it looks that someone thinks that having to prove yourself you're a citizen is better that the other way round...

    3. illuminatus

      I was a supporter of the NO2ID campaign back during the late noughties (I literally have the t-shirt). While I don't have an issue with ID per se, the main issue I saw with it here was the relationship it assumed between citizen and state, and about the ownership of and responsibility for personal data. This was the sort of thing that other countries, with explicit constitutional protections for citizens, struggled less with.

      So, for example, in the Blunkett bill that went before parliament, you had the fairly nasty combination of: the government owns your data, and can prosecute you if your data is found to be incorrect or false. Conversely however, if you discovered your data was not correct, the government were under no obligation to change it (though could conceivably prosecute you if they _then_ decided the data was wrong, even if you'd told them so a priori). Without primary legislation that prevented authorities compelling users to carry id tokens at all times, or compelling them them to produce ID while going about lawful business, the scheme always smelled nasty to me. I was extremely wary of the feature creep that had happened (despite promises to the contrary) in RIPA oversight and powers.

      1. James Anderson Silver badge

        ID cards have got to be better than the current lash up.

        I mean providing Utility bills to prove you exist (bit weird given that only one person in a household gets billed!).

        And credit ratings! I actually had to take out a credit card in order to get one as lots of companies don't believe you exist until you have one.

        Identity theft does not happen in countries with a decent ID system.

        1. onemark03

          For example?

          1. Tomato42 Silver badge

            continental Europe

            1. onemark03

              Cynic that I am, I suspect that identity theft does go on here in continental Europe (I live in Germany) but hardly gets reported simply in order to perpetuate the myth of "secure" ID systems.

              1. Tomato42 Silver badge

                I know few USians, all had to have their credit cards revoked because of stolen/compromised numbers

                Nobody in my family of continental Europeans had the same issue.

                While yes, anecdote is not data, we're not talking about a sample size of 1.

  7. Simon Ward
    Flame

    Dear Tony ...

    ... please fuck off.

    Love, hugs and strawberry jam.

    1. genghis_uk

      Re: Dear Tony ...

      My sentiments exactly - but with less Strawberry Jam... He does not deserve Strawberry Jam!! (Maybe a shit sandwich or two)

      1. FlossyThePig

        Re: Dear Tony ...

        The more bread you have the less shit you have to eat!

      2. OssianScotland Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Dear Tony ...

        The strawberry jam is for when he is staked out, naked and smeared with it, over an ant-hill

        (Paris, just because....)

  8. Wilseus

    One of my favourite quotes ever

    "I had met Mr Blair before he was famous, and I knew how olympically dim he was."

    Peter Hitchens speaking to the Cambridge Union in favour of the motion "New Labour ruined Britain."

    1. Bloodbeastterror

      Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

      Peter Hitchens - "how olympically dim..."

      A bit rich coming from the dimmer of the Hitchens brothers.

      1. Wilseus

        Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

        "A bit rich coming from the dimmer of the Hitchens brothers."

        I was pretty sure that someone would come along with an ad-hominem argument like that. Whatever you think of the man, I think he's right in this case.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge

          Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

          Isn't what Peter Hitchens said itself an ad-hominem? Its ad-hominem all the way down!

          1. Wilseus

            Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

            Nope, like many people you misunderstand the term. It is not the same thing as simply calling someone names.

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

              Is it not? He's arguing that "New Labour ruined Britain", and his argument is that Tony Blair is stupid. How is that not an ad-hominem?

              1. Wilseus

                Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

                "He's arguing that "New Labour ruined Britain", and his argument is that Tony Blair is stupid. How is that not an ad-hominem?"

                Because that wasn't his argument, and was only one phrase from a much longer speech. Later on he goes on at quite some length as to what damage, in his opinion, New Labour did.

              2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

                "How is that not an ad-hominem?"

                I think because it falls into the category of 'patently to any casual observer with no prior experience' i.e. a fact.

                1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
                  Facepalm

                  Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

                  I appear to have missed an obvious *obvious* in my above statement

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

            stop getting personal, Tom 38!

      2. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: One of my favourite quotes ever

        It's all relative.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

    The problem is simple : you cannot have individual ID without a corresponding token to prove your ID. Until the plod has a portable, pocket-sized token verifier, the easiest way to prove your ID is with a card.

    The problem is therefor not the ID card in itself, it is the fact that UK gov wants IDs and UK citizens wants them to fuck off.

    There is no solution to this.

    1. Wilseus

      Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

      Most people have them anyway, in the form of either a driving licence, a passport, or both.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

        My driving licence, in effect, simply says that I claim to be the same person who passed a couple of driving tests over 50 years ago.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

          "My driving licence, in effect, simply says that I claim to be the same person who passed a couple of driving tests over 50 years ago."

          That's the most that *any* ID could ever prove. The trick is to make sure that it actually manages even that. Anything that cannot be revoked when compromised, or that can be easily faked, or that is easily left on a USB stick on the way home, doesn't even manage that.

          ID is quite hard, like most of the rest of security. One of the tricks that seems to have stood the test of time is "strength in depth". Having a single ID that covers everything is the ID equivalent of relying on perimeter security. Curiously, when it comes to keeping out Johnny Foreigner, our civil servants realise that you need internal checks as well, but the idea of having separate IDs for separate roles in life doesn't seem to have occurred to them.

          1. Amused Bystander

            Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

            There's a lot of anger here on both (every) side. Since we're all techies, how about we come up with a solution, instead of shouting into the Cat 5?

            We do need some form of ID proving who we are, we also need some way of preventing Big Brother tracking our every click and tweet.

            We need to decouple our Human ID from our Bank account, credit card etc, so that we can log in to whatever, but then present our account number separately.

            As Ken says, everything in security is hard, its even harder to explain to a non-techie why THIS solution is better than THAT solution.

            Biometrics? I think not - once a retina scan is in the wild, it can't be revoked, same goes for fingerprints, voice print.

            Answers on a postcard...

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

        Most? I'd plump for "many" rather than "most". Unless you mean "most" in its strictest form as in >50%, in which case I'd agree, but in that case it could be only roughly half effective.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: "most" in its strictest form as in >50%

          Will Of The People

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: "most" in its strictest form as in >50%

            And therein lies another of TB's legacies.

            Do you know why Cherie always went on top? Because Tony could only fuck up.

      3. Nick Kew

        Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

        So many things in normal life demand such identity. Try signing up with a quack, or obtaining any financial product from a bank account to a pension, without one.

        Cryptographic identity could[1] be an improvement. The power to assert your own identity, but not without at least enough consent to enter a PIN or password.

        [1] Depending on implementation. My implementation would empower the owner of the identity and noone else.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

          "My implementation would empower the owner of the identity and noone else"

          Sounds good in theory, how would you go about achieving that?

          1. Nick Kew

            Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

            To be honest, it's been done. Your own PGP key. Asserts your identity, but needs your own passphrase to unlock it. The Web of Trust offers a ready-made decentralised model to make your own decisions who you trust.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

              Indeed, but if that is the only solution then, at the level of the general population, there is no solution.

              1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

                It's not technically any different to the way ID verification attempts to work now.

                To get a passport, you ask several other organisations and people to state that you are in fact you, and then sign to say that you agree.

                That's a "web of trust", based on the applicant producing paper documents.

                Using PGP signatures to assert the same would be neither difficult nor expensive. The local storage of each individual's private key would be troublesome - people lose or break stuff all the time, and some cannot remember a suitable password.

                The main reason it won't happen is because it would be very difficult for Capita to make money from screwing it up, because it does not need large centralised infrastructure to operate.

      4. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

        And would you believe, some people have multiple identities and proof thereof.

        regards, from sunny West Yorkshire

    2. mr_souter_Working

      Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

      National Insurance Number - I even still have the card that I received when I turned 16.

      Also - Driving License and Passport

    3. onemark03

      Re: "trying to come up with new forms of ID card"

      Well, not quite.

      The police simply calls in your name and date of birth to the police station which has access to the computerised information about you. That's what happens here in Germany.

  10. big_D Silver badge

    German ID cards

    I like the German system, the ID card can be read by a smartphone NFC (Android for a few years, iPhone with iOS 13 this year) or with a smart card reader attached to a PC and needs to be verified with a PIN.

    It is simple and, so far, relatively secure. It certainly helps when signing up for some services, you can register directly with the ID card, instead of having to print out a form and run to the post office to get a PostIdent sent to the service provider.

    But the Germans have always required everybody to register themselves with the local council offices when they move to a new abode and citizens have always had to have an ID card, so the system is tried and tested. Non-German citizens are registered to the address where they live and German citizens also get a new ID card with their address - and the driving license doesn't have a registered address, so you don't need to renew that when you move.

    You are also required to be able to identify yourself (ID card or passport) at all times. This is, for most people, theoretical; apart from registering with the council, getting married and getting German citizenship, I've never had to identify myself.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: German ID cards

      AFAIK you are not technically required to be able to identify yourself at all times, but maybe I do not recall the discussions to the fullest...

      1. onemark03

        Re: German ID cards

        Under German law you are, in fact, required to be able to identify yourself to the authorities (on demand) with some form of official document showing your photo. This may be an ID card, passport, driving licence, medical insurance card or similar. If you can't, the police (to use a popular example) are legally entitled to take you downtown and use other methods to identify you. This usually includes taking your fingerprints - whether you like it or not (in law physical force can be applied). This is why Germans prefer to carry their national ID cards on them at all times anyway, in spite of the fact that this is not a legal requirement. It's simply more convenient than the alternative.

        Contrast this with - for example - Belgium and Spain, where are you are, in fact, legally required to carry your ID card on your person at all times when in the public arena - no exceptions, no excuses. Failure to comply results in being taken downtown. And you do not want to screw around with Belgian or Spanish cops.

    2. Philip Hands

      Re: German ID cards

      The big difference in Germany is that they have laws against collecting and/or keeping data that they don't need, whereas the Blair vision of these things always seems to include recording one's every interaction with the ID system in perpetuity.

      I'm sure that if the UK is ever stupid enough to implement such a system, things like parental porn viewing records will make it that much easier to control unruly journalists/scientists/etc. ... perhaps removing the need to do tiresome things like helping them to commit suicide.

      The irony is that those laws in Germany were imposed after WW2 by allies who have since demonstrated that they have rather more need for legal bulwarks against fascism. It's a shame that they didn't take the time to insert similar laws into their own systems at the time.

    3. Nick Kew

      Re: German ID cards

      I recollect an incident in Italy, back in (I think) 1994. After a long, hot drive, I had checked in to a hotel on the shores of Lago Maggiore. It being a hot evening, I went down to the lake, and out for a long swim. When I got back, the police were looking for me: apparently I'd been reported as a suspected suicide! They asked for my identity document, and explained that my failure to carry it was technically illegal.

      Fortunately they were sufficiently non-jobsworth to accept the sense of not carrying my passport while out for a swim!

      1. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: German ID cards

        So what you're saying is that they didn't Nick Kew?

    4. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: German ID cards

      Five posts about German ID cards, and no mention of "Ausweis, schnell!" as seen in war films. What would Godwin think?

      1. onemark03

        Re: German ID cards

        Oh, dear!

  11. Richard Boyce

    SQRL

    SQRL is a decentralised authentication system that has now, after five years, reached the point where it's ready for widespread use. It trusts no government, no commercial interest, and gives the websites that use it for authentication no secrets to keep. It is not encumbered by IP rights. There is a reference client for Windows, and clients for other platforms. There is also a SQRL server API that can be used by existing websites to quickly add support. This should make FIDO dead in the water.

    Details at sqrl dot grc dot com .

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: SQRL

      It isn't identity management though. It is a peer-to-peer authentication system for logging onto services anonymously. The service you are connecting to can only verify that you are the person who created the account, but it cannot identify you.

      I think SQRL is great, but its use is completely opposite as to what is required for identifying yourself for government services - they can't be anonymous by nature.

      1. Richard Boyce

        Re: SQRL

        There is nothing to stop a SQRL user from providing other information such as name and address. When a government agency has this info, and has tied it to a SQRL public key, noone else can readily impersonate the user.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: SQRL

          Unless somebody else manages to register a SQRL key to your details, before you can...

          That is the sticking point.

          With the German system, the state issues you with a card and this card is used to identify you for services. Use of the card requires either fingerprint or PIN authorization, so if it is stolen, they also need to steal you PIN or your finger. That means that they can guarantee that you are who you say you are, it is quick and simple.

          To do the same with SQRL, you would need to register your SQRL ID and then provide some form of authentication out-of-band. This makes it about 95% trustworthy.

          Again, I think SQRL is great and for the majority of websites and services it is the best method to date. But for specifically confirming the digital identity of a person is attached to the actual person, it is not ideal.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: SQRL

            I think I prefer NO-SQRL.

            Or SPQR. Roman profiles.

          2. genghis_uk

            Re: SQRL

            Technically the fingerprint does not tell you any more than the card does (i.e. something you have)

            You need he pin to authenticate the card (i.e. something you know)

            1. MrBanana

              Re: SQRL

              No, a fingerprint is something you are. Anyone can steal your ID card (something you used to have). Worse still, if it insecure enough that it can be copied (something you think you still have). Surgery to transplant fingerprints - more difficult, and you will probably know when it has happened.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: SQRL

                Gummy bears, bouncing here and there and everywhere, stealing fingerprints without compare...

  12. Chris G Silver badge

    Tony Blair inspires me

    But not to do anything legal though arguably good, at minimum he needs a good slap round the head, there are a plethora of choices regarding slapping equipment.

    What exactly is 'a decentralised ID system'?

    The UK does need something simple and functional though, as an expat in Spain I have no UK address, when I had to get my name taken off the deeds to the house I bought and left to my ex wife, you would believe the difficulties from not having three utility bills etc. The Courts would not accept my Spanish ID even with the UK being a so called European country.

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: Tony Blair inspires me

      What exactly is 'a decentralised ID system'?

      PGP.

      Next question?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Tony Blair inspires me

        Sorry, but that's like saying the answer to a more sustainable and flexible workforce is a car, it doesn't do anything to address *how* the system will work.

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Tony Blair inspires me

      three utility bills etc

      This is so quaint. It's several years since I received a paper utility bill. I suppose I could print a copy of the email version, but I could equally well knock one up myself if I was aiming to deceive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tony Blair inspires me

        And if you're in France woe betide you if the electricity bill is in the name of "Mike" when your given name is really "Michael". They won't accept it as being the same person.

        Then there's the silliness of needing a copy of a birth certificate issued less than three months ago. Why they think the circumstances of my birth might have changed in the intervening 60 years I have no idea...

  13. Twanky Bronze badge

    IDs

    Government agencies have given me various IDs: My NI number, my NHS number, my HMRC UTR, my polling cards have a reference number when elections (or referendums) crop up, my DLVC driver number and my passport number.

    Government and civil service at all levels knows a thing or three about me and has reference numbers for most of it - when it works.

    I see no real objection to combining these numbers into an 'ID'. It could be useful when dealing with banks or other regulated companies rather than providing driving licence, council tax demands or utility bills. I get that the NHS don't need to know when I last flew into the country or how much I earned last year or that HMRC don't need to know about my 'little problem' (I need fruit, fresh fruit!). I also get that we don't want to have to carry ID in case some petty civil 'servant' demands it (unless we look under 18 and want to get into that cool bar). I'd also object if 'social media' had to check IDs before granting access. I have no objection to showing ID before getting on a plane or entering another country - but perhaps that's because I'm used to it.

    I DO want the State to provide services. I have no wish to organise the defence of the Realm or the justice system or cleaning the streets and trimming the hedges in the park - and that means that I expect to pay towards someone else doing that. I also think that our society should provide a safety net for those unable to look after themselves which means society must stump up the cash for that too. For the State to do these things efficiently they need to know who they're providing these services for.

    There has to be a sensible compromise. Different IDs for different silos is OK but a core cross-reference is essential.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: IDs

      "I see no real objection to combining these numbers into an 'ID'. ... I get that..."

      Once you've combined these into an ID what you'll get is all those people and more having what you thing they've no need to have.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: IDs

        you mean the same way as Her Majesty Postal Service reads all the letters?

  14. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Trollface

    Needs moar blockchain.

  15. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    "a decentralised electronic identity system to all citizens as the flagship digital infrastructure reform."

    Bingo!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The UK obsession with utility bills is a real pain these days and a nightmare for us expats.

    Anybody who thinks that not having an identity card stops the government tracking you is being very naive. They probably carry a phone and use supermarket loyalty cards too

    1. Stork Silver badge

      It was also not easy to provide those when you had moved to the UK recently. At least the bank was okay with a passport

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Anybody who thinks that not having an identity card stops the government tracking you is being very naive

      No but it does put off the day when a neighbour watch can stop you and scan your Id card to check your web porn viewing settings because you walked past a school.

      Or the DHSS can routinely check your Amazon browsing when you claim benefits.

    3. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Papers please!

  17. Dazed and Confused

    Digital ID cards

    Oh you mean a PornPass, why didn't you say so.

    The government are already trying to put this into place, they keep failing and having to slide the deadline back and back but they are trying(very).

    None of the likes of the DailyFail mind when it's introduced for PornSurfing, so they get the thin end of the wedge hammered well into the crack of liberty.

    There are already rumours that they plan to expand the PornPass requirement to things like social media sites where it will become illegal to show things along the lines of "likes" for posting of people under the age of 18. The DailyFail brigade won't mind this either, as it's all to do with social media and they probably think that's as bad as porn.

    Now the wanna be dictator wants the idea extended to cover everything.

    How are we not surprised.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Digital ID cards

      PornPass has been delayed whilst we wait for Mr Johnson to be officially appointed to a position where he can cancel the whole thing.

      There are some benefits to having a wanker in charge...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Digital ID cards

        They are all wankers on all sides, but that wanker probably wouldn't bother to deny it

  18. mr_souter_Working

    ID cards

    "to call for "a proper identity system in the UK" to underpin digital government."

    I assume that he has forgotten that every British citizen is issued a unique ID that the government already uses to track us throughout our lives - our National Insurance Number.

    This is already a computerised system.

    it could (fairly easily) be built upon to provide a secure identification system - if anyone in power was interested in making something that worked, rather than simply grabbing more power and control for their own departments.

  19. AdrianMontagu

    Digital ID

    We need structure.

    Stop spam and other untraceable abuse.

    Everyone should have a digital ID

    Same numbers for NI, Passport, Hospital, TAX etc.

    No Digital ID - No VOTE

    It would help with secure banking too.

    Things would change then.

    1. onemark03

      Re: Digital ID

      No, this is precisely what we DON'T want!

      Think about it: a single number for all these services makes it all the more attractive to thieves and forgers. Once this number's been nicked, your life can potentially be really messed around with (identity theft).

      Look at the consequences of social security number fraud in the US. Far better would be individual numbers for individual services (yes, compartmentalisation!), so that you can still exist after reporting a lost number.

      Numbers for ID cards (if introduced at all, which I hope never happens!) should be issued for the duration of the life of the card only (c.f. passports) and then expire when the card does. It's safer and the risk of identity theft is a lot less.

  20. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Bad

    Location: France

    Time: A long time ago

    The guys that I hung out with told me that once a year the CRS (paramilitary police) would come to town. They would stop youngsters and demand their ID card. If you did not produce it you were hit round the head with a baton. They did it to scare the shit out of everybody.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnies_R%C3%A9publicaines_de_S%C3%A9curit%C3%A9

    This link is not rendering the French characters properly! See: Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad

      France has ID cards, but there is no legal requirement to carry them. That's just the CRS being their usual over-enthusiastic selves. They seem to consider themselves the "paras" of the gendarmerie. Baton first, ask questions later.

      1. onemark03

        Re: Bad

        In France you are not even legally required to obtain an ID card. However, most people do as it is a lot more convenient.

  21. MrTuK

    Former PM idiot Blair should be told to STFU

    What does it matter what an ex-Priminister who should be tried for war crimes has to say about anything that matters in the UK. He is an out right liar and fraud and should be locked up for his crimes rather than anyone listen to what he thinks of anything at all !

  22. axelotl

    Need for ID cards

    There is no problem having to produce ID when one seeks a benefit or having ID as authentication.

    Eg: I produce my credit card when when I want credit and a library card when I want to borrow a book.

    I do object to being required to prove who I am when all I am doing is exercising my right to be at large.

    I think Identity cards should be mandatory for all those who claim to be entitled to ask me who I am.

    For myself, I don't need a breathing license.

    That raises the question of what constitutes a "benefit".

    In a world of fake news and trolling it could surely be useful to have a system of non-repudiation.

    "You said it! You can't deny it."

    What follows in terms of the duties of forum providers is where it gets complcated.

    1. onemark03

      Re: Need for ID cards

      I agree with you entirely about not being required to prove who you are when exercising your right to be at large. But how do you feel about flashing ID when you wishito use a credit card (very common here in Continental Europe) or borrow a library book? May I assume you would object to that as well? I'm not quite clear about where you stand on these latter issues.

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