Feeds

Tory and Lib peers aim to ice ID cards until Blair's overthrow

Costings look ball-crushingly tight, apparently...

Security for virtualized datacentres

Tory and Liberal opposition peers will unite in the House of Lords today in an attempt to have the UK identity card scheme shelved pending an investigation of costs and benefits. Their amendment is intended, according to Tory Home Affairs spokesman David Davis to force the Government to produce proper costings of the scheme, but if passed it will be likely to kick ID cards into touch for the remainder of Tony Blair's term in Downing Street.

The Home Office's slipperiness on the true cost of the scheme has meanwhile come under renewed fire from the London School of Economics, which has published a status report on its identity cards project to coincide with the Lords debate. The latest report is introduced by LSE Director Howard Davies, who expresses irritation at the tone of ministers' comments on earlier LSE research, saying that these "have not encouraged the kind of rational debate that proposals of this far-reaching nature surely require." He notes that "the Government has not been very forthcoming in providing details," but says that the LSE team "stands by the cost estimates outlined in its first report", and warns that "any estimates made of the cost of the current proposals may... significantly underestimate the total cost of the scheme in the longer term."

The report itself says that the Government's refusal to disclose information on the ID scheme means that the LSE team is currently unable to publish a fully-detailed second edition of its study. But it describes Home Office claims that the LSE was substantially wrong as "scurrilous", and says its "cost estimates from June 2005 remain as they were.

"Dozens of questions about the scheme's architecture, goals, feasibility, stakeholder engagement and outcomes remain unanswered". says the report. "The secuirty of the scheme remains unstable, as are the technical arrangements for the proposal. The performance of biometric technology is increasingly questionable. We continue to contest the legality of the scheme. The financial arrangements for the proposals are almost entirely secret, raising important questions of constitutional significance."

Enough? Besides all that, the LSE is unconvinced by the Home Office's claims that a KPMG report (which the Home Office declines to make fully public) gives the scheme a clean bill of health, and argues that on the contrary, the KPMG report supports the LSE's estimates. And it's worth noting this opening of a socioeconomic 'second front':

"Since the publication of our June report we have been increasingly concerned that the market based approach adopted by the government will lead to endemic identity checking, resulting in an unregulated rolling tax on citizens. By instituting a monopoly on identity architecture and placing this on a commercial footing, the Home Office risks creating a 'free for all' in which organisations outside government make substantial profits from relentless and unnecessary identity checking."

And the Home Office, in the view of the LSE, has shown itself unfit for the management of a scheme of this magnitude (which we presume makes the Home Office the unacceptable face of repression and invasiveness). There is an "ongoing culture of secrecy endemic in the planning of the identity card proposals. The Home Office has conducted most of its work in a covert fashion, refusing to disclose information that would inform debate, and conducting negotiations in a closed environment." A project this size "should be managed by a department with the internal culture and experience commensurate with the scope and application of the project." The LSE suggests the Treasury, then publicly renounces its earlier support for identity cards:

"At the outset, the LSE Identity Project supported the implementation of an identity scheme in principle but expressed significant concerns regarding the Home Office proposal. In light of the numerous inconsistencies and conflicts that have emerged, serious unanswered concerns that remain, project dynamics that are dysfunctional and potential outcomes that may be harmful to the public interest we can now no longer support even the principle of an identity scheme owned and operated by the Home Office."

So it's no more Mr Nice London School of Economics then. Much more rollicking good reading in the full report. And to all you peers out there, amend early, amend often. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.