Feeds

Home Office defends ID card plans (again)

Anti-democratic? Nah

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The UK government today renewed its attack against critics of its ID card proposals. Home Office minister Des Browne MP said opponents are campaigning on a false prospectus based on "myths and misinformation" about its scheme to require every UK resident to have a biometric ID card within eight years or so.

At one time or another, the Home Office has cited clamping down on benefit fraud, controlling illegal immigration and helping to prevent terrorism as reasons why Britain needs ID cards.

Critics have focused on areas such as the Home Office's failure to clearly define a purpose for ID cards, the amount of information that would be held on any card and who might be able to access this information. Cost and civil liberties implications of a compulsory ID card also loom large.

According to Browne, accusations of authoritarianism or anti-democratic impulses are unfair. At a Home Office press briefing in London, he said people would not be required to carry an ID card. But fines of up to £2,500 could be applied to those who fail to register for a card or notify authorities about a change of address, under plans to make cards compulsory by around 2012.

"We're bringing together information about someone that is known to government or in the public domain, allied to biometric info. It won't contain medical or tax records, the bill precludes that. This is not a Big Brother database," Browne, in a combative performance, told a group of IT hacks.

But what of the cost? International travel regulations are moving towards the inclusions of biometric information on passports, Browne notes. The Home Office estimates it will cost £415m per annum to issue biometric passports by 2008/9. Issuing ID cards will cost an additional £85m each year and verification technology another £50m.

That's the running costs. Capital costs will peg out at around £186m plus between £250 to £750 per biometric reader. That is according to Home Office estimates: UK government projects have a poor history of coming in on time and to budget. Browne says the government will carry out extensive trials and "learn from experience".

He also says that heads of both the Metropolitan Police and the British Medical Association have told him ID cards are the "single best thing" the government can do to help them fight ID theft and unauthorised access to free healthcare.

The government has recently backtracked a little in its arguments that ID cards are vital in the fight against terrorism. Browne today said that ID cards are "no panacea - and we never said they were" in the fight against terrorism.

The bombings in Madrid last year are sometimes cited by critics as evidence that ID cards are of little assistance in preventing terrorist outrages. Browne counters that ID cards help police interdict terrorist activity by preventing terrorists from maintaining multiple false IDs. ®

Related stories

Populace asked: Do you like ID cards?
Get yer draconian Blunkett rhetoric here
UK looks at 'integrating' ID card with health care

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list
'Just use cash', former security staffer warns friends
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.