Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Last Push

The moment of decision in the Government's atrocious ID cards scheme is fast approaching. On the 16th and 23rd of January, the Bill goes into its report stage in the Lords (where the House of Lords will debate and vote on the outcome of the committee hearings on it). Every amendment that passes here will be voted on in the Commons, before the final, winner-takes-all votes come up.

I'm going to keep this short, so just remember: this scheme is certain to be obscenely expensive, the technology cannot possibly work statistically speaking (the government's own trials showed an error rate of 4% - but the number of cards is going to be 44 million, which means a lot of false arrests), it will be a gigantic security risk, and the government will be able to add your ID number to any database it likes. Despite repeated psuedo-concessions about what data will be in the National Identity Register or "on the card", the government has never made any commitment whatsoever regarding the use of this unique identifier - which has the capability to effectively make all the government's databases part of the system.

The only terrorists it could possibly stop would be ones who we already know are terrorists, but who choose for reasons of their own to use their real names and carry ID cards - who don't sound like much of a problem. Big government IT systems have been penetrated repeatedly - animal-rights terrorists got access to the DVLA's database of driving licences so as to get the names of workers at a medical research centre, and more recently a gigantic tax fraud was perpetrated using the payroll details of staff at the Department of Work and Pensions to claim family tax credits in their names.

So: let's write to them and make sure they know just how awful this project is. You can find Lords' email addresses here.

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