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Info Commissioner criticises ID Cards Bill

Privacy and Data Protection concerns

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The Information Commissioner believes the measures set out in the National Identify Cards Bill go "well beyond" the requirements to set up a secure, reliable and trustworthy ID card system.

In a statement published on the organisation's website, to the Bill that was passed by Parliament on 18 October, Richard Thomas, the Commissioner expressed several issues of concern relating to privacy and data protection of personal information of an individual.

The document says that while the government is looking to develop a 'gold standard' for identity verification for the ID card that requires the recording and collecting of biometric and other data, once this process is completed and the standard established there is "little justification for retention of all such details in a central National Identity Register." It goes further by calling the holding of this data "unwarranted and intrusive" and "not easily reconciled with fundamental data protection safeguards."

In addition, the extensive nature of this data means the onus on the individual to ensure records are kept current is "excessive and disproportionate."

The development of the Register and its operation is considered by Mr. Thomas as another step towards a "surveillance society" that may lead to "unwarranted intrusion into individual’s lives by government and other public bodies." He also expressed concern over potential future use of the system as outlined in the bill, which allows for potential function creep into "unforeseen and perhaps unacceptable areas of private life."

The ICO's concerns follows a critical report published by the House of Lords Constitution Committee that was critical of government’s approach for ensure the integrity of the National Identity Register and called for national identity scheme commissioner with the power to investigate complaints and report directly to Parliament.

Read the statement here (42KB - PDF)

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