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IPS's double IT has risks, says commissioner

Doing a good job nevertheless, he controversially adds

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Identity commissioner Sir Joseph Pilling has expressed concerns about the Identity and Passport Service's two-stage approach to its core technology.

"The IPS have gone for what they call a tactical and a strategic solution to the IT demands of running an ID scheme in this country," he told the Security Document World conference in London on 8 February 2010. One system has been put in place for the small-scale launch of the scheme, but another will be introduced when it is expanded by forcing passport applicants to enrol.

"I am not sure whether if you have two schemes in short order you double, treble or quadruple the risk or even more than that, but I am pretty clear that it is a quite ambitious approach to take, and I am particularly intending to take an interest in the transition from the tactical to the strategic," said Sir Joseph.

Having seen the identity card enrolment process first hand, he added he was not satisfied that all the best possible standards are being applied and that he intended to keep his attention focused on this.

However, Sir Joseph said that IPS is doing a good job in looking after data. "It is not one of those bodies in the public or private sector who have shoved millions of unencrypted records out into the public domain, unintentionally, carelessly or as the victim of some malevolent member of staff or consultant," he said.

He said he will take a detached view of the scheme: "My emphasis is independence, independence and independence. But I am not only independent of the government, I am also independent of the opposition, whether they become the next government in a few weeks time or not."

He reminded his audience of security specialists that after a general election, it could be that the UK will no longer have identity cards for British nationals. The Conservatives have pledged to scrap the scheme.

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