Feeds

Tech firms tangle with Tories on ID cards

Conservatives put big business in its place

Website security in corporate America

The IT industry has found itself in a handbagging spat with shadow home secretary David Davis over the Conservative party's plans to ditch ID cards should they win power from Labour.

Davis' "official warning" to government said a democratic clause should be written into contracts with ID system suppliers so they could be scrapped if the electorate demanded so.

John Higgins, chairman of IT trade body Intellect, promptly wrote to Davis warning him that the IT industry held such sway over the British economy that the Conservatives would be foolish to mess with them.

Davis's response, sent yesterday, upbraided industry over its creepy anticipation that it would get lashings of gravy from a government project designed to encroach on people's civil liberties.

Higgins had argued that the interests of big business should take precedent over the will of the British electorate.

"It is highly likely that the manner of this intervention will undermine the confidence of the supplier community in any future Conservative government honouring other contractual commitments which may have been entered into by previous administrations."

In other words, should the Conservatives win an election on a promise to ditch ID cards, the previous government's contractual obligations to the IT industry should prevent the new manifesto from being implemented.

Davis retorted: "Your claim to be neither for or against the policy of introducing ID cards in the UK, given the clear commercial interest of a number of your members, is simply disingenuous."

Intellect is not unused to playing politics itself, despite its latest predictable tribute to the eminent efficacy of commerce.

By Higgins' reckoning, there is no place for empathy in politics, only cold reason. "It will potentially make companies wary of entering into any public sector contracts at all," he said.

What actually might happen, should the Conservatives get a democratic clause written into the ID contracts and should the electorate subsequently vote to have them abolished, is that the government could spend its money on something more useful, and industry would adjust its seat and suckle on a different teat.

But that wasn't all. Higgins warned that the contractual uncertainty of a Conservative electoral win would put undue risk on suppliers and force them to compensate with higher prices, which would "result in a less favourable environment for the taxpayer".

Davis dismissed this "thinly veiled threat" and suggested Higgins might benefit from reading the work of the Public Accounts Committee on the best way to run IT projects.

And industry hadn't appreciated the "parameters of the public debate" or the "depth of opposition" to ID cards. Davis said Higgins' position was "incredible and insulting".

He didn't answer Higgins' invitation to join Intellect's cosy little coterie - a rare privilege indeed. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
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
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
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

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.