Blunkett: UK losing faith in ID cards

Blunkett: UK losing faith in ID cards

Summary: A single, compulsory document combining passport and driving licence would prove more popular than the proposed ID card, according to David Blunkett

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TOPICS: Security
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MP David Blunkett, architect of the National Identity Scheme, has said there has been a "massive drop" in public confidence in ID cards.

Five years ago, most UK residents were in favour of the proposed cards, but this popular support has waned, Blunkett told ZDNet UK at the Infosecurity 2009 conference.

"For at least three years after we announced [ID cards], 75 or 80 percent of the population were in favour," Blunkett said. "Over the last two years, we seem to have had a massive drop in confidence in the system."

The MP for Sheffield Brightside said the government had been outflanked by those putting the "worst-case scenario", and that those who were "scared" by ID cards had, in public forums, put forward a better case than that of the government.

Opposition to the scheme has been widespread. Both of the major political parties have said they would scrap ID cards, while privacy and civil liberties campaigners have been the most vocal opponents.

A single document combining a compulsory biometric passport with a driving licence would be more popular, according to Blunkett.

"We would immediately take the steam out of this, because we would demonstrate that we aren't talking about some new, frightening, untried scheme that would lead to all of our information being captured, all of our information being retained, and all of our information being shared," he said. "What we are talking about is just enough to be able to ensure that we identify ourselves correctly."

An Identity and Passport Service spokesperson said that the government still plans to introduce identity cards as planned.

"The government is committed to introducing ID cards, which will provide the public with a single, simple and secure way for individuals to prove their identity and safeguard their personal details," said the spokesperson. "The home secretary announced last year that as the National Identity Service rolls out in 2011/2012, we will be offering British citizens the choice of having an identity card, a passport, or both."

In April, the government admitted that while it has already started to issue ID cards to foreign nationals in the UK, no devices capable of reading the cards will be deployed at border entry points, job centres, or police stations until 2010.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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2 comments
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  • Quite wrong

    The UK is not losing faith... it never had such faith in the first place.
    Tezzer-5cae2
  • What he said ...

    What Tezzer said is exactly right. Plus, lets just examine the disingenuous twaddle that the arch dissembler has spewed forth this time:-

    ---
    The MP for Sheffield Brightside said the government had been outflanked by those putting the "worst-case scenario", and that those who were "scared" by ID cards had, in public forums, put forward a better case than that of the government.
    ---

    The MP for Sheffield Brightside seems to have completely failed to understand the democratic process. He has also failed to understand the mechanism of the law. The law is the actual words as laid down in the statutes, as interpreted by cases tried against those statutes. The "Worst case scenario" is exactly the thing you must examine. The rest of the possible endpoints are utterly irrelevant. If the text allows a given case then it is lawful. If it is lawful and useful to someone, they will try and do it. If/when they do try and do it, there is no law to prevent them. As has been seen countless times with the ill thought out legislation that characterises this government, the worst case scenario often occurs before the rest.

    The promises we were given when the RIPA bill was slogging through the houses were nobodies business. One that immediately springs to mind was that it was only intended for fighting trrrsts and serious organised crime. We said at the time that it would be wise to enshrine these principles in the text. They knew better. The next thing we know it's being used to police whether given parents are sending their kids to the "right" school.

    I have examples of this kind of nonsense going back years and covering numerous different pieces of legislation. The central message being, ignore what the sponsoring politicians say the legislation is for. Read the text yourself and see for yourself how it *can* be deployed. That is the truth. The politicians' bleating is just annoying noise.

    ---
    "We would immediately take the steam out of this, because we would demonstrate that we aren't talking about some new, frightening, untried scheme that would lead to all of our information being captured, all of our information being retained, and all of our information being shared," he said. "What we are talking about is just enough to be able to ensure that we identify ourselves correctly."
    ---

    This is just a whopper. The intent of the National ID Register is to establish a unique index number of each and every one of us. That's the only function that it ever needed to perform.

    Now we just add in a generous pinch of "Data Sharing" and phase one is cooked to perfection.

    There is absolutely no need to have the intrusive personal data actually in the NIR itself. In fact the system would probably be cheaper, quicker and easier to maintain if it isn't. What you need is a separate database for each of the DVLA, HMRC, NHS etc etc and to then include the National ID Register unique index number as a field in each person's record. Then you can do a cross database fetch across all the databases simultaneously (parallel .. quicker) and grab the data you want. So, you see what I mean, Mr B's denial is just so much misleading hot air.

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    "The government is committed to introducing ID cards, which will provide the public with a single, simple and secure way for individuals to prove their identity and safeguard their personal details,"
    ---

    This is one of those "Policy is Truth" statements.

    Their policy is that it is possible to create a database of this size and sensitivity; provide access to countless faceless bureaucrats and private corporations and still ensure that it remains 100.000% secure. Given that this is The Policy, anyone who tries to assert that the Holy Policy is a bunch of dangerous claptrap is automatically a Blasphemer! All of those people in the actual real world, know that this is an impossibly tall order under the very best of circumstances, let alone hobbled by the fact that it will be a "Big Government Database Project" ... ie the very worst possible circumstances.

    ---
    "The home secretary announced last year that as the National Identity Service rolls out in 2011/2012, we will be offering British citizens the choice of having an identity card, a passport, or both."
    ---

    This one worries me. The choice is:

    1 - ID card
    2 - Passport
    3 - Both

    Where is the currently available option, number 4), Neither??!

    What stunt are they about to try and pull that suddenly makes one or the other or both mandatory without going to primary legislation. Have they already managed, without us noticing, to put together the magic mix of self modifying legislation to be able to slash option 4) from the statutes without recourse to due democratic process?

    So as Tezzer quite rightly says, we aren't "Losing" faith in ID cards. We either understood what they were trying to pull off and opposed it from the very start; or took a while to realise the facts and switched view later on.

    Suffice to say, I discuss this issue with people very very regularly. I now come across fewer and fewer people who have even the vaguest sympathy for their scheme any more and those that do failed to realise that the scheme is all about the database and little or nothing to do with the card itself. A fact now illustrated beautifully by the scheme's original author. Once the stragglers have been shown what they intend to construct, they almost universally recoil in horror.
    Andrew Meredith