Feeds

Tech firms tangle with Tories on ID cards

Conservatives put big business in its place

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

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. ®

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
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
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.