Gov't loses fight to keep ID card reviews secret

Gov't loses fight to keep ID card reviews secret

Summary: Two independent reviews into the likely success of the identity-cards project are to be published after the government lost a four-year-long battle to keep them secret

TOPICS: Security

Reviews of the ID cards project are to be published after the government lost a four-year-long battle to keep them secret.

The two independent Gateway Reviews into the likely success of the £4.7bn ID cards project, completed in 2003 and 2004, must be published within 28 days.

The publication of the reports was ordered by the Information Tribunal today and is a blow for the government, which had argued it was important they remain confidential to protect future Gateway reviews.

The tribunal's decision comes after anti-ID card campaign group No2ID member, Mark Dziecielewski, won the right to have the reviews published after his Freedom of Information request to see the reports was upheld by the information commissioner in 2006.

The commissioner's decision was supported by the Information Tribunal in 2007 following an appeal by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). The OGC subsequently appealed the tribunal's verdict in the High Court, which last year overturned the tribunal's decision to publish the reviews.

In its ruling today, the tribunal said there is a public interest argument for the reviews to be published, including analysing the costs.

"There is an undoubted debate as to the merits of the scheme," it added.

Gateway Reviews were introduced in 2000 by the OGC to track the progress of government IT projects.

The tribunal says the names of contributors to the ID cards reviews should not be published and that it does not believe all Gateway Reviews should be published.

An OGC spokesman said: "The Information Tribunal has concluded that neither they nor the information commissioner believe all Gateway Reviews should be disclosed. It has made clear that its decision refers only to this specific request and does not set any precedent. We are currently assessing the detail of the Information Tribunal's decision and will respond in full in due course."

Topic: Security


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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  • FoI

    Bravo no2id :-)

    When I first heard what Blair was going to create in the Freedom of Information Act, I thought my friend was kidding me on. Then I read it and thought, "Blair really hasn't thought this one through has he?!" I kept waiting for them to realise what they had done and quietly gut it without letting on; but they didn't. It became law.

    You hear that distant clucking noise President Von Brun? That's the noise of approaching chickens, returning to their roost. I don't often look forward to reading government agency documents, but for this one, I will make an exception.

    You never know, this might even screw down the lid on the whole NIR/ID Card fiasco.
    Andrew Meredith
  • One much deserved victory

    for common sense and the ordinary people.

    Let us hope that more will follow.

    I read other forums and the number of articles concerning government initiatives in respect of 'micro management' of the population, us the citizens, is horrifying. Almost as if the government are on a runaway train to disaster and can neither stop it or get of it.

    It really is time that they began to realise that they govern on our behalf with our permission and that government's job not that of control but that of care.

    It seems to me that if we can't hold the government accountable, in this and also for the debacle that is the 'Credit Crunch', we are in danger of creating a very poor inheritance for future generations

    Our freedoms and choices are precious to us and are not to be treated so cavalierly and thrown away so lightly. Our fathers and grandfathers would turn in their graves, this is not what they fought and sacrificed their lives for.

    Although much criticism is heaped on NULab for this trend of micro management and snooping, it is not clear to me that an alternative government would be much different, opposition parties haven't really shown shown much mettle in opposition. A similar logic applies to the culpable mismanagement of the country's finances
    The Former Moley
  • What Moley Said

    As usual I agree with the gentleman :-)

    I would however, like to try and bring some light to something he said. He asserted that the government's role was to care for not control us. Quite so. However, when I had this conversation with a devout NuLabour supporter he had this twist:-

    (I paraphrase) "Oh but you don't understand! It's not about control, it's all about the care. In order that we are properly even handed about the care we deliver to the populous, we need to know about the individual needs and resources of every single person in the country. The more we know about each person, the more accurately we can determine the exact level of care to deliver."

    When I put the point that maybe we would prefer not to have every arm of the state knowing absolutely everything about our private lives, he looked a might shocked. "Why on earth not?" he says and follows it up with the classic "If you've nothing to hide you've nothing fear" mantra. I then laughed and tried to explain that I did indeed have something very important to hide; my privacy, he thought I was being facetious. He was firmly in the benevolent state frame of mind and refused to accept the invasion of privacy as a valid point.

    They just don't get it Moley! They want to deliver their all knowing and benevolent care _at_ us, whether we want it or not. They've taken their core principle of "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" as an excuse to minutely examine our needs to soul baring depths.
    Andrew Meredith