Government tries to keep ID card costs secret

Government tries to keep ID card costs secret

Summary: Even a Freedom of Information Act ruling can't force the Department of Work and Pensions to release a report into ID cards

TOPICS: Government UK

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is appealing against an order by the UK's data-protection watchdog to release a secret report on the costs, benefits and risks of introducing ID cards in the UK.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last month ordered the DWP to make the details of the report public after a complaint by Liberal Democrat MP Mark Oaten in 2004.

Oaten had complained to the ICO after the DWP refused to release its ID cards feasibility report in response to a parliamentary question he had tabled. Each central government department has conducted a secret feasibility report into how it plans to use ID cards and what the costs, risks and benefits are likely to be.

The ICO considered the complaint under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act and, after reviewing a copy of the report, information commissioner Richard Thomas ruled that the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in keeping it secret.

Thomas said in his ruling last month: "There is clearly... a strong public interest in the public knowing whether the introduction of identity cards will bring benefits to the DWP, and to other government departments, and if so what those benefits will be... It will allow the public to make a more accurate assessment of whether the significant costs of the scheme are justified by the benefits it is likely to deliver in areas such as the prevention of benefit fraud."

The DWP had 30 days to either comply with the order or appeal and a spokesman confirmed to ZDNet UK's sister site,, that the department lodged an appeal against the ruling earlier this week, just inside that deadline.

The appeal process is now expected to drag on for several months.

Topic: Government UK

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  • Surely if they're innocent they've nothing to hide?
  • Will they never learn that making such a big fuss about these things just makes what might previously have been a dry point scored by an MP, into a hugely public release. When it is finally either released or leaked, the papers and SIGs will now examine it in minute detail, drawing out every damaging implication.

    We all know that ID cards are set to be a hugely expensive and intrusive white elephant. We scarcely need any more proof. DWP are just making themselves and HMG in general look stupid, shifty and untrustworthy.

    Sadly I was beated to the "If they have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear" comment by the previous author :)
  • And we have to pay for all the costs of the DWP appeal from our taxes and probably both sides as it is a parlimentary question.
  • Take 1 ID Card, add a centralised Medical Record Database, throw in a "State Police Force, add a few bank details to the ID Card along with NI number and a spot of DNA and finally add thousands of CCTV cameras. What is the end result? Who needs all this information? Are we all suspected terrorists and or criminals? The answers are simple.
    All UK Government Agencies and the US Agencies ( CIA, FBI etc. ), Police Officers, Securicor and Group 4 employees and any Local Government Officer will easily get anything they want. We are all suspected criminals and or terrorists in the eyes of this failing Government. George Orwell's "Big Brother" is nothing compared with what PM Blair and his cronies are planning. Finally, ID Cards ( with all the centralised databases ) will not prevent crime and or terrorism but I can see a massive increase in cases of blackmail for the future.