Feeds

Parliamentary report flags ID scheme human rights issues

Home Office becoming serial lawbreaker?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights has flagged a string of problems the UK's ID Cards Bill has with the European Convention on Human Rights, which was incorporated into UK law in 1998. The Committee's report draws Parliament's attention to "a number of serious questions of human rights compatibility", and it has written a lengthy note to Home Secretary Charles Clarke asking for answers to 14 of them by next Monday (7th February).

Asked this morning if the report meant that it was now time to put ID cards on hold, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said that international requirements for biometric passports meant there was a need to go down this route, and that the Prime Minister believed the legislation satisfied the UK's commitment to international human rights conventions.

This however is clearly not what the Committee believes. It particularly questions the extent, justification and proportionality of the information to be held in the National Identity Register, and points to the potential for information to be recorded there without the individual's consent. It also notes that the "designated documents" capability will make registration effectively compulsory for some groups of people, and that the intent to phase the scheme in may discriminate against some groups subject to compulsion.

The extent of disclosure of personal information to service providers in exchange for the delivery of public services and other reasons, and the capability for the unlimited extension of powers of disclosure are also flagged. The Government's approach so far to such criticisms of the scheme has boiled down to stating that it is confident it complies with human rights law, and that there will be "safeguards". The Committee's letter to Clarke however demands clear justifications of the purpose of each of the points of concern, together with detailed explanations of the safeguards.

Some of of this territory has actually been covered during the extremely brief Committee stage of the Bill, where Minister Des Browne in particular fleshed out some of the Government's interpretations and intentions. These are, however, simply what the Government currently says the Bill is supposed to do and what it intends to do with it, not what the Bill itself says, and the Bill emerged from Committee largely unamended.

Also on the human rights and freedom theme, the Office of Government Commerce has responded to Spy Blog's FOIA request for publication of its Gateway Reviews of the ID scheme saying it needs a further 15 working days "to consider the balance of public interest." Spy Blog notes that this takes any publication neatly beyond the Third Reading of the Bill in the Commons on 10th February. Coincidentally (?) Minister Paul Boateng recently replied to a question from LibDem Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten with: "I am currently reviewing whether there is any Gateway Review or other OGC review which should be published regarding the identity cards scheme and I will write to the hon. Member as soon as these considerations are complete." Which would perhaps be the week after next, Paul?

So over to Charles Clarke. Will he have a response to the Committee on Human Rights by Monday, and if so, will it be good enough? The Bill will almost certainly go through the Commons next week anyway, but if the Government can't make a convincing stab at the human rights angle, opposition in the Lords is likely to stregthen. ®

Related links:

Joint Human Rights Committee report UK gov ready to u-turn on passport-ID card link?
Labour's Zombie Army clinches ID card vote for Clarke
Europe kicks UK out of biometric passport club

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.