Owen Barritt (hmmm_tea) wrote,
Owen Barritt

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ID Cards

As yesterday's post on voting received a number of comments on ID cards, this has got me thinking about the planned scheme.

In today's world we quite regularly need to prove who we are and generally the suggested forms of ID to use for this are Passports and Driving Licences. However, not everyone has these, so you could not use them for things such as proving your identity when you vote. As such having an ID card seems a sensible idea in principle.

As far as I can see, the simplest way of doing this would be to put the passport page with all your details on into a card form. You could then use this to prove your identity in situations, such as collecting parcels, where you might currently use your passport. The security issues would be unchanged.

However, the government's proposed scheme does seem a bit more complicated than this and it's proving very difficult to find out exactly what's involved from independent sources without getting drowned in media hype.

The Home Office's own Identity and Passport Services site does give a broad overview of what's planned and in general sounds fairly reasonable. However, it's obviously not going to be unbiased and will be spun to make it sound as reasonable as possible.

A quick google search throws up several sites against ID cards, mainly along the same lines as the one for No2ID. Any valid points on that site are completely lost in hype with little evidence to back it up. Even there "leaked documents" don't actually say a huge amount to back up what they are trying to say and there annotations are frankly unhelpful.

The Conservative and Lib Dem websites both give details of the drawbacks to the scheme. From this the major drawbacks seem to be the cost and the aims of the scheme. ID cards won't work to stop terrorism, etc, but could be quite useful when we need to prove who we are in day to day life (such as when opening a bank account, picking up a parcel and ideally when voting).

Then there's the issues regarding the database. I personally don't see any issue with the government putting my name, address, etc in a database as they probably already store this data in countless databases as it is. They shouldn't put sensitive personal data in there, but there site says they won't. It would seem reasonable to use the identity number from this in other databases to help services look up my details as long as these were kept as separate databases. If someone wanted all my details they would still need to access all these various databases to get it. If someone hacked in to these databases they could get all my sensitive data without the identity number without too much hassle, so I can't see that it makes a huge difference there.

The main issue then appears to be the fact it holds information about when you use the card. Does it need to? If you scrapped this point then the database would seem fairly reasonable again.

Cost of course is the other issue. The governments site doesn't seem clear how this is going to be funded. Personally, I think the funding should come through taxes rather than requiring individuals to pay for their own identity cards. The governments site says that individuals will pay for their own cards, but the cost will be kept down to £30 or less, which is not ideal. The conservatives and lib dems both come up with figures of £93 including passports, but it's not clear how old these sites are.

I suspect the Conservative and Lib Dem sites are both from the last election which makes them both fairly dated given the number of changes to the scheme there appears to have been.

The articles in the media suffer the same fate, as many older articles reflect previous ideas of what should be included in the scheme.

The most recent article a search on the BBC site was this Q&A, which although it seems a good overview, seems to contract the details of the NIR given on the governments site by saying the details will not be held in a central database, so now I'm utterly confused what the actual situation is.

For all the information out there on the cards, there seems to be a complete lack of information and it's all very confusing. Can't someone just say, this is the proposed ID cards scheme, this is what the proposed register will hold, etc without covering it in hype and spin?
Tags: contemplative, politics

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