Feeds

'Non-compulsory' ID cards poised for a makeover?

Kinder, gentler, don't mention the database

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Analysis It's straight out of the New Labour Labs spin book. The Home Office executes a U-turn on compulsory ID cards, while the Home Secretary does the rounds of the media insisting that they were never compulsory in the first place, and that he is affirming his commitment to them by accelerating their rollout.

But there's a surprising amount to unpick from Alan Johnson's non-announcement this week, and although the actual change is small (backing off from a messy and pointless confrontation with the airline unions), the 'accelerated rollout' provides a few pointers as to where Johnson may be planning to take the project.

Sue Sample, Home Office sweetheart

Although certain attention-challenged outlets described Johnson's announcement that ID cards would not be compulsory as "a significant Government climbdown", the Home Office actually let this be known three months ago. It's also not the case, as some have reported, that Johnson announced the abandonment of the trial of ID cards for airport workers - he removed the compulsory aspect, but the trial remains in place, at least theoretically, on a voluntary basis.

Which is significant. Take him at face value when he claims to be an "instinctive" supporter of ID cards, but take into account that he's smart enough not to keep on banging his head against a brick wall (something of a first for recent Home Secretaries), and that coming on as the sensible one while getting the Labour Party off this particular toasting fork may come in handy if there's a leadership election in the next year or so.

By making the meaningless (because he can't commit future Governments) statement that ID cards will never be compulsory for UK citizens, he defuses the ID bomb to some extent, and moves the emphasis onto making them popular, useful and necessary. No, don't laugh - in some senses they could be useful and popular, and in some senses they could become necessary, the continuation of compulsion by other means. And if Johnson plays his cards right and doesn't make Smith- or Byrne-style demented claims, it needn't actually matter to him if people don't start volunteering for ID cards.

They're not his baby, and that only changes if he decides to make it change.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Ticking the boxes

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.