Government starts building ID card database

Government starts building ID card database

Summary: The National Identity Register, which underpins the ID card scheme, has added more than 500 people since going live in October

TOPICS: Security

The database behind the national identity card scheme is up and running, with more than 500 people added in its first month in operation.

Sir Joseph Pilling, the identity commissioner appointed in October, said that the National Identity Register had 538 people on it as of 19 November. All of the people on the register are UK nationals, bar one, he told the home affairs select committee on Tuesday.

The database went live on 20 October, and it is being populated with the data of people who either have an ID card or have applied for one, according to a Home Office spokesperson.

"[Home secretary] Alan Johnson has got one, for example," the spokesperson said on Wednesday. "Some of my colleagues have made applications."

The identity scheme is first being rolled out to the general public in Greater Manchester. People who live or work in that area can apply to put themselves on the National Identity Register from 30 November.

The next phase of the rollout will be in the North West of England and will take place early in the new year, the Home Office told ZDNet UK. The likely venue for the launch will be Liverpool, the department's spokesperson added.

Privacy campaigner Guy Herbert, general secretary of No2ID, said that he was not convinced the general public will embrace ID cards when they become generally available.

"The Identity and Passport Service has persuaded certain Home Office employees to sign on the dotted line," said Herbert. "Whether the general public will be prepared to sign up is another question altogether."

A No2ID survey in October found that 60 percent of the population are against ID cards, while two-thirds oppose the National Identity Register. This contradicts the latest government figures, which found that almost 60 percent of the population support ID cards.

The National Identity Register consists of various government databases. One of the main pieces of the register is the National Biometric Identity Service (NBIS). The main contractor for NBIS is IBM, which subcontracts to Atos Origin and Sagem Sécurité.

Technology firm CSC has a contract to upgrade UK passport application systems.

The government said in October that the Department of Work and Pensions' Customer Information Service (CIS) would not initially be used to store data for the ID cards scheme, following CIS security issues.

The Conservatives have consistently said they will scrap the ID cards scheme should they win the general election in 2010. IT security experts, civil liberties campaigners and some politicians and policemen have expressed IT, security and privacy concerns about the scheme.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for 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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  • How long before we're all on it?

    At the current rate, it will take some 120,000 months to populate the database with every individual resident in the UK. That's 10,000 years. Assuming it's not scrapped next year, of course...
    Manek Dubash
  • I wonder...

    "The Identity and Passport Service has persuaded certain Home Office employees to sign on the dotted line," said Herbert. "

    I hope thats by using there own money and not expenses!

    "the latest government figures, which found that almost 60 percent of the population support ID cards."


    I wonder how long before they start illegally putting peoples details on there.
  • What arrogance they must have to forge on regardless of public opinion

    The government lie and skew data / statistics to breaking point (just too many people don't realise it and take it as red). I skew data for a living but this is just ridiculous.

    They are elected by us and spend our money...yet they forge ahead with something that nobody wants / asked for and simply give us a bunch of lies and statistics that aren't even convincing! They have that much arrogance!

    Why do we bother? What annoys me is that we are all skint at the moment (including the government) but they are still wasting huge amounts of cash on things like this.

    I don't know any other type of organisation that would get away with you?

    At least if CSC are involved we can count on more delays!

    I think that if no one in government is listening, it is acceptable (maybe even ethical) to host a competition to hack the database(s) in question (via whatever means possible...including social engineering)...completely destroy them and / or commit a crime and swap your details with an MP's...after all they deserve to be in jail!!!

    The point of such a hack would be to prove a point that the databases are not secure / well designed and can easily be abused. Look at other smaller databases and how government (local and central) have abused these! Now they want a mega database to abuse and mis-manage!

    Has a government ever been removed for incompetance!?!