Feeds

MPs want to postpone ID

Better late than never, they say

Application security programs and practises

The government has been advised to further postpone the introduction of ID Cards until it can be sure the scheme will work.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into the thinking behind ID Cards, published today, found the government had decided what it wanted to do before it had determined if it would even work.

"In view of the potential adverse impact on large numbers of people, it is better that the scheme is late and workable than on time but flawed," the committee report said.

It recommended that the Home Office, which introduced the scheme, "extend the procurement phase to ensure that enough time is taken to gather the necessary scientific evidence and to undertake all the appropriate trials".

The committee even recommended a cross-government consultation as many government bodies had varying ideas about what they wanted to do with ID Cards.

Government trials of the biometric technology it wants to use in ID Cards are planned to occur simultaneously with the procurement, which specifies the system, decides who will develop it, and how much it will cost. But the procurement process should be informed by evidence gathered from the trials.

To date, the committee found, the Home Office had been "unscientific" in its practice of selectively using evidence collected by previous trials to prove its own theories about biometric technology.

"We are surprised and concerned that the Home Office has already chosen the biometrics that it intends to use before finishing the process of gathering evidence," the committee report said.

It added that the Home Office should "act on evidence rather than preference".

The Home Office's consultation on ID Cards had also been inadequate. Industry was doubtful about what the Home Office was doing and sceptical that it had given it proper thought.

Jerry Fishenden, national technology officer at Microsoft, told the committee: "After all these consultations we still do not seem to have had an impact on [Home Office] understanding about what makes for a good identity system."

As the Home Office was lacking inhouse expertise, it was relying on industry to plug the gaps in its knowledge, but it did not conduct adequate consultation with those it would rely on to develop the system.

This lack of inhouse knowledge has been identified before as the cause of government IT failure, the Child Support Agency debacle being a case in point. As it happens, the committee was worried that the signs showed the Home Office had not taken enough notice of the accumulated wisdom of previous IT disasters, as surmised in numerous reports over the last decade.

It was also concerned that the committees set up to guide the ID IT plans had not been "best placed to offer expert advice" because they had few experts. The Home Office also lacked an IT chief, while there was uncertainty about who at the Home Office was in charge of the project.

The Home Office wanted a flexible, staggered approach because it was learning what to do as it went along. But until it fixes its plans, which the committee said should be done "as soon as possible", it will not be able to get the disparate parts of the ID scheme interoperating - i.e. working. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.