Thinktank: Debate ID cards or drop them

Influential thinktank Demos says serious engagement with the public on how ID cards will work must be a priority if the scheme is to go ahead
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director on

There needs to be serious debate about the government's ID cards scheme or else it should be scrapped, according to an influential thinktank.

A report from Demos stated that meaningful engagement with the public about how the technology should work must be a priority if the ID cards scheme is to go ahead.

"There needs to be a serious, renewed debate about the identity cards scheme, with the kind of engagement that should have happened at the start of the process. Otherwise, the scheme should be dropped," the Demos report FYI: The new politics of personal information stated.

The report claimed that there needs to be more open consideration of what kind of information the cards would hold, why, and in what circumstances they will be used.

The report from Demos noted that personal information has become central to how we live — from online banking to social networking — and this is creating a trend towards personal, tailored services and a society "dominated by different forms of information gathering".

Demos argued that there is a need for better debate about the boundaries, rights and responsibilities that regulate the use of this personal information.

The government should develop a more coherent strategy around the use of personal information, clarifying the links between how it will use such information and the potential benefits or costs to individuals, the report argued.

Each government department using personal information should say how they are accessing it, while the powers of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) should be strengthened, for example to include the ability to audit organisations' use of personal information without needing their consent, the report argued.

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