Feeds

MPs must act on runaway ID project

LSE advice to government

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The London School of Economics has called for Parliament to intervene in the government's identity card scheme to find out if it is "getting out of control".

In its response to the government's six-monthly report on costs of the ID scheme, which said last week that estimates had risen by nearly £1bn since October 2006, the LSE noted how the reports were supposed to help MPs keep abreast of the scheme, but a lack of information to support the figures made independent assessment of the numbers difficult.

The report therefore suggests that "independent Parliamentary oversight is urgently needed, to re-evaluate the goals and directions of the scheme and, if necessary, directly intervene in the running of the scheme,".

The LSE report questioned the "credibility" of numbers supplied by the Home Office and called for them to be scrutinised independently.

It said the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) might not have considered the cost implications of Cabinet Office guidance of the proposed biometric immigration card, of handling ID "refuseniks", of fraudulent ID holders, and contingencies to a breached security system.

The LSE report noted also how the government's radical cost-cutting redesign of the ID system last December - the Strategic Action Plan - was intended to drastically cut costs by using existing government databases instead of creating a new identity system from scratch, and dropping iris images from the cards.

Why then, it asked, had there been no noticeable fall in the cost estimate? Had the redesign had no effect, or had the government downplayed its original estimates? In either case, how could the present estimates be trusted?

The full cost implications of the Strategic Action Plan had not been scoped out, it claimed. Existing government databases were not designed to deal with a workload of 60 million biometric identity records. There might yet be cost implications of contract changes with existing IT suppliers to those departments.

In addition, the government ought, in the spirit of transparency, to keep Parliament abreast of what the ID scheme would cost other departments. These costs are being removed from the scheme, and the Identity Card Bill placed no requirement on the IPS to report them.

Yet the IPS' cost report last week gave some indication of the charges that other departments might be obliged to pay to link to the scheme. £510m costs had been split away from the ID scheme and shunted onto the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). It did not report how these costs were derived and why they were deemed the FCO's responsibility.

The LSE also questioned the basis of the technology. It asked how reliable the system would be at confirming people's identities, and questioned how reliable it would be at the scene of a crime.

The LSE report is available as a Pdf here.

In other ID news

Colin Langham-Fitt, acting chief constable of Suffolk Constabulary told ZDNet his concerns about the ID card project. He said it would not stop criminals who would pay "whatever it costs" to "subvert" the scheme, while the idea that it would stop terrorists was "fatuous".

"This scheme is convenient for government, but not for citizens," he said and described how non-convicted suspects might become stigmatised by having their details retained on criminal databases.

More fromZDNet

®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.