Feeds

DCA goes all bashful on ID card voting linkage

Odd, considering the obvious answer was 'none'

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Despite rumours to the contrary, the Government has as yet not announced plans to harvest the UK's electoral rolls for ID card defaulters, or to make voting dependent on having an ID card. But an answer to a parliamentary question given by the Department of Constitutional Affairs earlier this week makes it reasonable to suspect the existence of unannounced plans, or perhaps just partially-formed dreams, to this effect.

In pursuit of her own party's press release on the subject, Tory MP Caroline Spelman asked "what assessment the Government have made of whether a new electoral register database (a) will be of assistance in and (b) may be used to assist the introduction of identity cards."

Which is a straightforward question standing some chance of a straightforward answer. For the DCA, Harriet Harman MP (for it is she) could simply have said whether or not the Government intends to use the planned co-ordinated online record of electors (CORE) to identify ID card defaulters and use Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to extract penalties for non-compliance (as the Tories claimed), or not. Harman however passed up the opportunity to tell the Tories they were making it all up, and instead went for answering a rather different question:

Ms Harman: The Government are currently consulting on proposals for national access to electoral register information, in particular the development of a consolidated record of all that information in a centrally-held dataset. This consultation paper on the proposed co-ordinated online record of electors (CORE) identifies a number of ways in which a consolidated record could be of assistance, in respect of decreasing the administrative burden on existing users of electoral register data...

[We mentioned sales opportunities when we covered this first, but suggested that the processes envisaged could well increase the burden on EROs]

...and strengthening measures to counter any attempted fraud in relation to electoral registration.

Note how this doesn't answer the question at all. Spelman asked how the CORE system might be used to aid the introduction of ID cards, Harman told her how the existence of a consolidated national dataset would strengthen the integrity of the electoral register. She continued:

...The consultation paper also seeks views on longer-term possibilities opened up by establishing a co-ordinated record of electors. Such possibilities include the potential for comparison of electoral register data with that in any identity card register, so that the integrity of the former can benefit from the high levels of verification proposed for ID cards.

Here she swings close to answering the question by referring to the potential for comparing the CORE dataset with the National ID Register, but then banks away by stressing the benefits the CORE dataset might derive from this, and failing to get specific about the possibilities of it being a two-way street.

That however is one of the points of comparing databases - data that matches up is strengthened by the exercise, and data that ought to match but doesn't is clearly wrong in one, the other, or both. In the bad old days (which for the purposes of current electoral rolls we still inhabit), a one-way check was/is conceivabl, but a check of a future central CORE dataset against a future National Identity Register will by its nature be a cross-check. The ID card is not intended to become compulsory until it has achieved a high level of penetration, and until the ID card is compulsory it quite obviously can't be made a requirement for electoral registration. So electoral registration could only aid the introduction of ID cards once ID cards had been successfully introduced. Sorted? But once both do exist, anyone who seems to want to vote but doesn't seem to have an ID card will be an anomaly to all sorts of Government Departments,* all of whom will be busily whittling away at their own anomalies.

Which is the point, right? So the correct answer for Harman to have given would be something along these lines: 'The CORE dataset is unlikely to be of great assistance in the initial introduction of identity cards. Once the NIR has achieved a reasonable level of penetration, however, CORE will be one of many Government datasets which are strengthened by the NIR and by links to other datasets facilitated by the NIR. All of these datasets are themselves expected to contribute to the strengthening of the NIR, and of the ID card as the "Gold Standard" of ID, and CORE will be no exception.' She wouldn't need to mention what happens to the anomalies - that goes without saying.

* In a roadmap published last year (in its ID card benefits overview) it envisages CRB checks and DVLA business as benefiting from the card early on (in the case of the DVLA, in starting to debug its driver database, although the Home Office coyly describes this as "improving business processes and customer relations") and education and employment related ID checks kicking in with "low card take-up". At majority take-up immigration 'improves its internal processes' (presumably by finding all those people it's missing), and the police 'provides intelligence and assists the public' (which is nice, one hopes). The Department of Work & Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs and the NHS kick in as we approach total coverage, and by comprehensive take-up we find the DCA enforcing fines, the Immigration & Nationalities Directorate "enforcing illegal working" (sic - presumably finding roles for all those people it discovered in the last phase), police trawling the NIR in search of matches for crime scene fingerprints, and the ONS (plans for 'whole life records' were killed off by the ID card scheme) using cards to support the census. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.