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UK Home Office Set To Scrap National ID Cards

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the do-not-eat-marshmallows-cooked-thereover dept.

United Kingdom 334

mjwx writes "In what would seem to be a sudden outbreak of common sense for the UK, the Home Office has put forward a plan to scrap the national ID card system put into place by the previous government. From the BBC: 'The Home Office is to reveal later how it will abolish the national identity card programme for UK citizens. The bill, a Queen's Speech pledge, includes scrapping the National Identity Register and the next generation of biometric passports.' The national ID card system, meant to tackle fraud and illegal immigration, has drawn widespread criticism for infringing on privacy and civil rights. However, the main driver for the change in this policy seems to be the 800-million-pound cost. Also in the article, indications of a larger bill aimed at reforms to the DNA database, tighter regulation of CCTV, and a review of libel laws."

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800-Million pound cost (2, Interesting)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373222)

Sometimes I just can't believe what we spend our money on...

Re:800-Million pound cost (4, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373400)

The UK military expenditure currently costs about 2.5% of the £1.8 trillion GDP. That's about £45 billion. Therefore ID cards for every citizen in the country cost, in total over the last ten years, approximately 1.7% of the total military (peacetime) budget for *this* year. Call it 2% to actually finish the scheme and issue the cards for free.

Depending on how you look at it, that can be read as ridiculous in any number of ways. Or to put it in perspective - £800m is approximately 25% of the EU farming subsidies that we pay each year, or twice the amount we pay in "R&D for Environmental protection" each year, or 1% of the old-age-pensions for this year. Now consider that the £800m is the TOTAL for the whole scheme from start to finish to create a national ID card, and that's not actually that much. It's just because it's stated in big numbers, but you're taking those from HUMONGOUS numbers to jump to conclusions. £800m over ten years is £80m a year, which is about £2.70 per working taxpayer per year, roughly. Now consider that the average working UK citizen probably pays about £4000 per year in income tax alone, from a salary of £24k. In actual fact, having http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/2171/premier-league/2010/04/18/1883371/liverpool-owner-tom-hicks-wants-800m-for-the-club

(PS: Got my data from World Bank / ukpublicspending.co.uk / HMRC statistics / other reliable sources).

Re:800-Million pound cost (2, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373424)

Mmm... post got cut off halfway:

The UK military expenditure currently costs about 2.5% of the £1.8 trillion GDP. That's about £45 billion. Therefore ID cards for every citizen in the country cost, in total over the last ten years, approximately 1.7% of the total military (peacetime) budget for *this* year. Call it 2% to actually finish the scheme and issue the cards for free.

Depending on how you look at it, that can be read as ridiculous in any number of ways. Or to put it in perspective - £800m is approximately 25% of the EU farming subsidies that we pay each year, or twice the amount we pay in "R&D for Environmental protection" each year, or 1% of the old-age-pensions for this year. Now consider that the £800m is the TOTAL for the whole scheme from start to finish to create a national ID card, and that's not actually that much. It's just because it's stated in big numbers, but you're taking those from HUMONGOUS numbers to jump to conclusions. £800m over ten years is £80m a year, which is about £2.70 per working taxpayer per year, roughly. Now consider that the average working UK citizen probably pays about £4000 per year in income tax alone, from a salary of £24k. In actual fact, having less than 75% of working age in employment means that we lose £40b a year in income tax from those people, not counting the benefits, etc. that are paid to them.

£800m for a nationwide offical government project is *NOTHING* and people should really worry about other things (like how they are going to survive in their old age if pensions cost already more than ANYTHING else in the UK government budgets). I'm not a supporter of ID cards AT ALL, but stating figures and then going "OOhh, that's a lot" is pointless unless you put them in perspective. The council tax owing to local councils at the moment probably covers the entire 10-year-expenditure on ID cards.

In perspective, £800m is nothing. Liverpool football club would cost about that to buy, according to this horribly-pop-up'ped page: http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/2171/premier-league/2010/04/18/1883371/liverpool-owner-tom-hicks-wants-800m-for-the-club [goal.com]

(PS: Got my data from World Bank / ukpublicspending.co.uk / HMRC statistics / other reliable sources).

Re:800-Million pound cost (2, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373636)

Firstly, 800 Million is the implementation cost. There would still be running costs long term. Also, this seems to be a low number; No2ID identified a billion worth [no2id.net] of contracts.

There are also other costs; e.g. organisations which would be required to check the ID card would have to link into the scheme. And finally, this isn't the only one in this set of pointless database schemes. If they also cancelled the scheme to link the whole NHS together that would save really lots.

As they say, a billion here, a billion there. Soon it starts to add up to real money.

Re:800-Million pound cost (5, Informative)

TDyl (862130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373446)

"and issue the cards for free."

The cards were never going to be issued for free; they were going to be forced on us and we would have had to pay for them (in fact the 15,000ish who had purchased the cards before the election have been told they will not get refunds but, instead, will have a souvenir of "historical" note).

The purchase price of the cards was meant to cover the operating costs of the scheme; government don't pay - we do. They take our taxes, then want more stealth taxes.

Re:800-Million pound cost (3, Insightful)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373538)

Yeah, I liked the way that in true labour spin the cards weren't going to cost the taxpayers anything because the scheme would be paid for by people buying the cards. You know what, if it came out of my taxes at least it's not from my already taxed income, bastards.

Re:800-Million pound cost (5, Insightful)

magpie (3270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373570)

800-Million is a shedload for a scheme that no one wanted except a few people that bought what ever the excuse was that week. I MEAN WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY MEANT TO BE FOR? First to fight terrorism...they couldn't figure out how they would help as the july seven attackers would have had valid ones anyway, then to combat benefit fraud....then they figured that benefit ID fraud costs less than the scheme would, then it was to help against ID theft online.....they didn't stick with that one for long as even they couldn't come up with how it could possibly work , then it was easier travel in Europe..... but they never told the travel companies and none of them accepted them, then they were to stop illegal immigration....then they realised the kind of people that employ illegal immigrants is not likely to check for ID, the last reason I saw was as an easy way for people to prove their age to buy drinks....then they realised that perhaps promoting them as a card that lets young people get legless might clash with the how cracking down on yob culture thing. The only reason I could see for anyone to want them is to allow them to monitor the population and generally allow the government stick their nose into other peoples business. Not a reason I too keen on.

No surprise (4, Informative)

ranulf (182665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373224)

This was never really a surprise as it was one of their manifesto pledges to get rid of this project which was always going to be colossal waste of money and probably trivially crackable in a few years time anyway. That said, I'm really glad it's gone. This was just one of the many ways the previous Labour government was trying to erode the civil liberties in this country...

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373422)

Like the fall of the soviet union, the evil labour empire turned out, after the fact to be a bit goofy.

Queen of evil Jacky smith...got laughed out in the end.

wow (5, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373230)

A government that actually gives up some power over people. I am speechless.

Re:wow (2, Interesting)

stupid_is (716292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373260)

well, at least the 15,000 folks that bought one won't be getting a refund.

And the project isn't really canned, as it will be rolled out for non-EU foreign nationals wishing to stay (cue thin end of wedge) so most of the contractors will still stay on the gravy train.

Re:wow (1)

minus9 (106327) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373296)

"well, at least the 15,000 folks that bought one won't be getting a refund"

I must admit I enjoyed that the people who thought this was a good idea have completely wasted their money.

Re:wow (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373420)

Someone on the radio said that in 20 years time they will be collectors items, and worth more than many £30 investments.

Re:wow (1)

shadowknot (853491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373494)

It's probably true that it will be a collectors item but it'll be grouped among the likes Betamax video player, the Sinclair C5, HD-DVD and other failed innovations in that people will likely remember it but not give a hoot about shelling out any serious cash to have it (the C5 may be an exception in that list). In 100 years time, if there still is a society, it may be worth something.

Re:wow (1)

zennyboy (1002544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373694)

As long as you don't mind someone having your biometric data

Re:wow (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373542)

Many probably don't feel they wasted their money. They'll have bought the ID card because they had a need for an easy way to identify themselves. E.g. Proof of age for buying alcohol. For such uses, the card will no doubt continue to be accepted just as before.

Re:wow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373534)

well, at least the 15,000 folks that bought one won't be getting a refund.

Good. I have absolutely no problem with financial penalties for people who voluntarily opt in to a surveillance state. Hopefully this will provide some negative reinforcement and make them less likely to do it again.

Re:wow (2, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373586)

Surveillance state? The cards are just like drivers licenses in the US. Most people simply used them to prove how old they were, or to travel within the EU without having to take their passport with them. People who bought them had a use for them, which will still be possible, as they are still government-issued ID cards, regardless of which actual government issued them.

Re:wow (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373648)

By opting in to the ID card scheme, you opt in to the national ID register, providing huge amounts of personal information (including biometrics) to a centralised government database. The Gestapo and Stasi would have absolutely loved to have such a resource.

Re:wow (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373652)

Most people simply used them to prove how old they were, or to travel within the EU without having to take their passport with them.

How did they do that? The UK was never part of the Schengen system.

Re:wow (2, Informative)

rich_r (655226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373668)

But it is part of the EU, which means national identity cards are accepted as an alternative to passports, where border crossings still check them.

Re:wow (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373934)

You cannot cross from the UK to anywhere (except Ireland) without a passport, EU or not.

Re:wow (1)

AllyGreen (1727388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373966)

Actually, according to the bbc news [bbc.co.uk] they won't be valid in 100 days.

Re:wow (4, Interesting)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373324)

A government that actually gives up some power over people. I am speechless.

The wonder of a coalition government. Neither side has the support to hammer through anything too extreme. So they're forced to actually do their jobs, rather than repeatedly kicking the electorate in the nuts and claiming they have a mandate to do so.

It probably won't last, but as long as it does, this current lot may actually accomplish some good for the country.

Re:wow (4, Insightful)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373552)

Everyone get out there and vote YES for AV in the referendum to make this kind of thing more likely in the long-term. Then if we get a referendum on STV, vote YES to it to make it almost certain.

Re:wow (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373554)

This seems plenty extreme to me, compared to the direction Britain has been going in previous years.

Re:wow (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373608)

This seems plenty extreme to me, compared to the direction Britain has been going in previous years.

With a name like "fastest fascist", I expect it probably does.

Re:wow (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373562)

It has nothing to do with it being a coalition government. Both Conservative and Lib Dem parties had scrapping the ID card in their manifestos. If either one had formed a majority (single party) government, the news today would be the same.

Re:wow (3, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373640)

Both Conservative and Lib Dem parties had scrapping the ID card in their manifestos. If either one had formed a majority (single party) government, the news today would be the same.

Or, you know, the Tories could have put the measure on the back burner for three years and eventually announced that the situation had changed and the ID scheme was suddenly vital for national security.

Just because it's in their manifestos does not mean they have any intention of doing it. It just means it's something they thought would help get them elected.

Re:wow (1)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373334)

A government that actually considers this amount of money to be too much to spend on something. I am speechless.

Re:wow (1)

chthon (580889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373376)

I just finished reading A History of England [amazon.co.uk] . If there is really anything which stands out in its history, it is the fact that English rule did not really have much power until the 19th century.

Re:wow (1)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373578)

They are also going to stop storing the DNA of innocent people in their database and to introduce legislation restricting CCTV cameras. I'm starting to like these guys.

Phillip.

Hardly "sudden" (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373232)

In what would seem to be a sudden outbreak of common sense

Hardly a "sudden" outbreak. We had an election that was hardly a surprise (it was held at basically the last minute it could be, as everyone expected). As a result the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have formed a coalition governement. Both coalition parties have pledged for a long time to scrap ID cards. It was also set out in their initial coalition agreement and it's one of the "freedom" things they feel they have a common platform on. Anyone who is surprised by the suddeness of the plan to scrap ID cards is... well, foreign. Not that there's anything wrong with that of course.

Shame (4, Funny)

drunkahol (143049) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373300)

I like mine . . . no really, I do.

Re:Shame (1)

AGMW (594303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373374)

I like mine . . . no really, I do.

I don't think they will be making it a crime to keep one if you already have it.

Re:Shame (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373546)

No, but as of September it will no longer be valid as proof of identity, so it's like hanging on to your old student ID card - nostalgia value, no real use.

Re:Shame (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373644)

Not officially, but there's nothing stopping any business or person from accepting it as proof - it's just unlikely that anyone will.

Quaint system... (4, Insightful)

bre_dnd (686663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373306)

Of course this will leave in place the quaint system thats currently there -- theres no national register of who lives where. So opening a bank account requires you to bring in a random assortment of water bills, phone bills, as proof of address, getting a passport requires you to get the reverse of your passport photograph signed by "a person of standing" i.e. your doctor or a certified engineer or a company director. Hardly waterproof, really.

To travel to Europe you need to fork out the full fee for a "real passport" rather than the cut-price national-ID card -- most other Europeans can just make do with a national ID card. Or wait -- that might be because Britain is one of the few countries that still does border controls for travel within Europe. Travel north-south from Germany to Holland to Belgium to France to Spain to Portugal and the only thing you notice is the language on the road signs changing, the borders are notionally still there but no checks are done. Im not sure the current system really is that much better.

Re:Quaint system... (5, Insightful)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373330)

Of course this will leave in place the quaint system thats currently there -- theres no national register of who lives where. So opening a bank account requires you to bring in a random assortment of water bills, phone bills, as proof of address, getting a passport requires you to get the reverse of your passport photograph signed by "a person of standing" i.e. your doctor or a certified engineer or a company director. Hardly waterproof, really.

As compared to what? How did you think they were going to verify who you are for purposes of issing an ID card? You've ruled out anything that evidences your address, you've ruled out passport, you've ruled out testimony of reliable seeming person who knows you. So what's your plan? What is "waterproof"? The whole biometric thing comes AFTER you've established your identity to them, not before.

Re:Quaint system... (2, Insightful)

Peach Rings (1782482) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373460)

The point is that once you have an ID card you can just flash it, instead of having to produce all of that documentation just to open a bank account.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373482)

That might be your point, but it's not the point I was responding to, which concerned how "waterproof" procedures are for identifying people. And "all that documentation" is basically a passport and a recent bill.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373572)

It's always a pain trying to find a "recent bill" when you haven't moved somewhere yet, or when the bills are in someone else's name.
But I suppose that doesn't matter to your point.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373556)

Yeah, which is backed up by the information you gave possibly decades ago. So when I sign up for a bunch of credit cards, and max them out, the bailiffs can turn up at the house I was renting when I was a student? How often do you open bank accounts anyway?

Re:Quaint system... (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373628)

How often you take money out of a bank account? Or get a loan? How do you show the account 112233-445566 is yours to empty?

While ID cards are far from "waterproof" and have a lot of weaknesses they are significantly better than the alternative.

Re:Quaint system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373926)

With the current system you not only have the provision of a combination of documents but also an element of human interaction.

When you present these documents, to say a bank manager to open an account, they have a responsibilty to judge the authenticity of the information and the validity of your claim. They do this knowing the limitations of the documents presented.

I believe one of the key failings of an ID card system, such as that originally proposed in the UK, is that it is presented as being too secure. It will be too heavily relied upon, to the extent that people will assume it is correct, without question, and the most powerful deterent to fraud, that of human instant and common sense, will be closed out of the loop.

This might be OK, until the security of the system is undermined, as it would have been eventually, by someone.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373530)

I think you are focusing on a part of the argument that doesn't really matter. I have to prove my identity several times a day. There is no system in the UK for doing this. That seems to be a pretty massive failure of the existing system. Having said all that, even in countries with identity cards, you still need all that crud to open a bank account.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373548)

I have to prove my identity several times a day.

To whom?

Re:Quaint system... (1)

master811 (874700) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373558)

Yes there is, it's called a Driver's Licence and most people have one anyway. They cost only slightly more than the now old ID card. I really didn't see the point of it anyway when nearly everyone has a licence (whether they can drive or not - even a provisional licence would be fine).

Re:Quaint system... (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373650)

As it stands, not everyone can apply for even a provisional driving license. e.g. People under age, people with poor eyesight, people who have had a driving ban. That's discriminatory.

Maybe there could have been the opportunity to modify the driving licence system to also properly function as an ID card. One card instead of two. But that may have been problematic as driving licenses are relevant internationally too - what it means to hold a driving license needs to be clear.

Re:Quaint system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373662)

Many (probably most, but I cannot find the percentage figures) people who live in London do not have a driving licence or a car.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373804)

I have to prove my identity several times a day.

What are you doing? I've only ever had to prove my age, and there's already a much less intrusive national scheme set up for that: http://www.brc.org.uk/pass/default.asp [brc.org.uk]

Re:Quaint system... (3, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373336)

To travel to Europe you need to fork out the full fee for a "real passport"

That's nothing to do with ID of any sort, it's because the UK is not a member of the Schengen Agreement [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373358)

My understanding is that (some?) countries in the EU who are in Schengen still expect some sort of ID to be carried by people from other Schengen countries - not for crossing borders but for going about your daily life in their country. Maybe I've got that wrong though?

Re:Quaint system... (2, Informative)

johanw (1001493) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373454)

Even worse, some countries require their citizens to show an ID card if any police officer asks one. Not doing so in The Netherlands results in a fine of 50 Euro's. Of course all against terrorism. In practice it is mostly used to screw you more when you ride a bicycle at night without lights.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373516)

My understanding is that (some?) countries in the EU who are in Schengen still expect some sort of ID to be carried by people from other Schengen countries - not for crossing borders but for going about your daily life in their country. Maybe I've got that wrong though?

Yes, some other continental countries have ID card systems, but they are almost all decentralised & none hold anywhere near as much data as the proposed UK one (IIRC ~50 different pieces of info) on a "national identity register" (NIR).

Had a continental style scheme been set up, their would have been far less opposition as the main arguments were against the NIR, not the cards themselves.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

internewt (640704) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373842)

Had a continental style scheme been set up, their would have been far less opposition as the main arguments were against the NIR, not the cards themselves.

Absolutely. And the pro-ID people have consistently failed to grasp the gripes all along, and are still missing the point in this discussion! It must be either genuine malice, or terminal ignorance.

Re:Quaint system... (2, Insightful)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373382)

You seem to have forgotten the birth certificate requirement for passport applications.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

bre_dnd (686663) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373508)

The thing is, I can request *your* birthcertificate in writing if I know your birthplace. I can get a passport photograph signed by a "person of standing" -- I doubt this is actually checked -- fill out the paperwork, and presto, theres my new UK passport with my photo and your identity.

Re:Quaint system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373568)

The thing is, I can request *your* birthcertificate in writing if I know your birthplace.

And that birth certificate will clearly be marked as a duplicate, not the original

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373664)

And that birth certificate will clearly be marked as a duplicate, not the original

Of course - the original is kept at (St Catherine's House ?) anything you have will always be a copy, won't it? In any event, all a birth certificate does is evidence that a birth took place. It doesn't attempt to show who someone is.

But of course this is still the basis an ID card would be issued on, birth certificate, statement by reliable person, utility bill...

Re:Quaint system... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373588)

The person countersigning the passport photograph must already hold a UK passport and quote their passport number. In other words, the passport authority *could* verify the signature with the one on record for that passport.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373688)

I can get a passport photograph signed by a "person of standing" -- I doubt this is actually checked

You're wrong.

Re:Quaint system... (4, Informative)

horza (87255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373672)

I need a random assortment of water bills, phone bills, as proof of address when opening a bank account in France, which does has ID cards. You need to somehow have somebody identify you to get a passport, but then you would to get an ID card too. Most other Europeans do not "make do with ID cards" to travel but are obliged by law to carry one on them at all times (whether traveling or not). You may not notice any border controls but you can be stopped at any time within those borders and asked for no reason to produce an identity card. I have American friends here in France that were thrown in jail for the night for not having their passport on them whilst walking in the street. Britain neither wants nor needs ID cards, and since we are traditionally rubbish at doing large IT projects it would have been an expensive flop anyway.

Phillip.

Re:Quaint system... (1)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373954)

Most other Schengen countries are landlocked or bordered with several other EU countries. We are an island.

Nothing to do with cost.. (5, Informative)

malkavian (9512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373326)

It had long been thought by everyone (other than the last government, who just got sent packing) that the ID cards just wouldn't work the way they were meant to (i.e. they don't protect anyone, and are just infringements on privacy and civil liberty, costing the citizenry money they shouldn't have to pay).
The £800 million was supposed to be recouped by the Government by charging to have the card (they were intended to be mandatory eventually with every passport). In other words, another tax to fund a scheme that wouldn't work as advertised and gave the populace no benefit while giving even more personal info to the government.
It'd been a promise since the early days (years back) by every other party to scrap this waste of time and money if they ever came into power. Labour were hoping to have it in place and active (making it much harder to scrap) before they were voted out. Thankfully they failed.

Not about the cards (5, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373338)

Scrapping the plan was never really about the cards; most people weren't really bothered about the card itself, it was the vast amount of data that was to be linked to the card via the National Identity Register that was cause for concern - especially as the previous government had a truly shocking record on both data security and large-scale IT projects.

Mostly why I voted for them (1)

Cloud K (125581) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373352)

Granted, the Tories might well screw up the country - but at least we'll have our freedom.

(Hopefully the Liberals will keep them in check anyway, thanks to the coalition. Couldn't be much better really!)

Re:Mostly why I voted for them (1, Insightful)

AGMW (594303) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373412)

Granted, the Tories might well screw up the country - but at least we'll have our freedom.

(Hopefully the Liberals will keep them in check anyway, thanks to the coalition. Couldn't be much better really!)

The last time the Tories took power from Labour they inherited a monster debt too, and managed to re-pay it and hand over a healthy economy to nuLabour who have sold the family silver (and Gold at the lowest price possible remember!). (nu)Labour have never been able to cut funding to all their left-wing union buddies and so have ALWAYS borrowed heavily when in power, whilst I am confident the Tories (and esp. now they have the Lib Dems as their Jiminy Cricket conscience!) will have the balls to cut back where necessary and actually pull us out of this quagmire of debt nuLabour's Bliar and end of boom and bust Clown left us with!

Obviously, once the economy is fixed we have to be on our metal keeping an watchful eye on them to make sure they don't start screwing the pooch again!

Re:Mostly why I voted for them (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373566)

The last time the Tories took power from Labour they inherited a monster debt too, and managed to re-pay it and hand over a healthy economy to nuLabour who have sold the family silver

I seem to remember the Tories selling a lot of the family silver (the national rail network, most utilities) before they handed power over. Making up for a short fall in revenue by selling off infrastructure is generally not good fiscal policy. Hopefully the LibDems won't let them do the same this time.

In fact, most of Labour's problem was that they didn't sell the family silver. They just paid for everything they wanted on credit, then left before it was time to pay it back.

Link to source, and my favourite quote of the week (4, Interesting)

qwerty8ytrewq (1726472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373368)

http://www.ips.gov.uk/cps/rde/xchg/ips_live/hs.xsl/1691.htm [ips.gov.uk] Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years." Boom! heady stuff in the UK, leading the free world. I still think that the Netherlands 'right to anonymity' is the way things should be heading http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=%201447332 [ssrn.com]

Blunkett wants to sue (5, Interesting)

dogsolitude_uk (1403267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373386)

What made me laugh was the report that David Blunkett (the Labour Home Secretary that gave birth to the scheme) wants to sue the Government for the thirty quid that the card cost him: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/i-might-sue-over-scrapped-id-card-says-blunkett-1985447.html [independent.co.uk] Oh, and it's worth remembering that the Tories wanted to introduce an ID card system (sans database) back in the 90's.

Re:Blunkett wants to sue (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373442)

What made me laugh was the report that David Blunkett (the Labour Home Secretary that gave birth to the scheme) wants to sue the Government for the thirty quid that the card cost him: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/i-might-sue-over-scrapped-id-card-says-blunkett-1985447.html [independent.co.uk] Oh, and it's worth remembering that the Tories wanted to introduce an ID card system (sans database) back in the 90's.

You mean he didn't claim it on expenses! Well I am surprised.

Re:Blunkett wants to sue (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373582)

Oh, and it's worth remembering that the Tories wanted to introduce an ID card system (sans database) back in the 90's.

An ID card without the database is just a more convenient passport. It's the database that I object to. Amusingly, a couple of weeks after I was born, there was an episode of Yes Minister on television about the creation of a 'Big Brother' database with inadequate privacy safeguards. Plus ca change...

Re:Blunkett wants to sue (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373606)

a couple of weeks after I was born, there was an episode of Yes Minister on television about the creation of a 'Big Brother' database with inadequate privacy safeguards. Plus ca change...

You really do have a remarkable memory. The earliest thing I can remember is "Baa Baa Black Sheep".

Re:Blunkett wants to sue (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373654)

I watched a repeat as a teenager and thought 'this is amazingly topical'. I watched the episode again on DVD over Christmas and thought 'this is still amazingly topical, when was it made?' Turns out, it's as old as me. I wish the BBC would repeat Yes [Prime] Minister more often...

Re:Blunkett wants to sue (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373844)

I watched a repeat as a teenager and thought 'this is amazingly topical'. I watched the episode again on DVD over Christmas and thought 'this is still amazingly topical, when was it made?' Turns out, it's as old as me. I wish the BBC would repeat Yes [Prime] Minister more often...

It's regularly on one of the Satellite channels (GOLD, I think), and it remains as topical & insightful as ever.

New Labour (5, Interesting)

wilsonthecat (1043880) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373398)

Who would've predicted 20 years ago that a Conservative government is now more liberal than a labour one. What did labour bring the UK in respect to civil liberties?

- Huge amounts of CCTV - one estimate claims the it's the highest in the world
- Useless passports that don't work in most airports
- An illegal war or two
- Sponging off the state is more attractive than working

I voted labour in 1997 and was fairly anti-conservative back then. Since that time something happened to the party (Tony Blair) that has completely transformed them in my view.

Re:New Labour (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373450)

I don't think he's to blame for the useless passports, the USA made biometric passports a requirement of entry.

Re:New Labour (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373590)

I'm still pretty anti-conservative, which is why I've never voted Labour. The slogan for the 1997 election 'New Labour - Old Tory' has seemed increasingly true every year that they were in power.

Re:New Labour (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373624)

The vast majority of CCTV cameras in the UK are privately-owned, and are used to protect buildings. They are not run by the police or local authorities.

As the summary says (2, Insightful)

Conspicuous Coward (938979) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373414)

A big of the reason for doing this was cost, but not the only one. The Conservatives have been opposed to this scheme since forever. Middle England Tories tend to get very hot under the collar about ID card schemes for some reason, though they don't seem to have any problem with CCTV, repressive "anti-terrorism" legislation, or any of the dozens of other ways in which British civil liberties are being curtailed.

As to the current Con/Dem government doing anything about these wider abuses, I remain very sceptical. Previous Tory governments have been equally as big on repressive legislation as the last Labour government was. And as everybody knows, politicians are generally loathe to give up any powers unless forced to by the population.

Re:As the summary says (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373594)

Middle England Tories tend to get very hot under the collar about ID card schemes for some reason, though they don't seem to have any problem with CCTV, repressive "anti-terrorism" legislation, or any of the dozens of other ways in which British civil liberties are being curtailed.

Of course not. The other things that you list only effect the freedoms of the lower classes...

Re:As the summary says (4, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373604)

As to the current Con/Dem government doing anything about these wider abuses, I remain very sceptical. Previous Tory governments have been equally as big on repressive legislation as the last Labour government was. And as everybody knows, politicians are generally loathe to give up any powers unless forced to by the population.

Well, the coalition document promises a "great repeal\freedom bill" and more regulation on CCTV and a review of the libel laws (as a side note, Lord Leicester has just introduced a libel reform bill - http://www.libelreform.org/news [libelreform.org] - in light of their pledge, I'm hoping that it will get government backing) amongst other things - full text: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8677933.stm [bbc.co.uk]

The relevant section for those who don't want to click on the link:

10. Civil liberties
The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour government and roll back state intrusion.
This will include:
A freedom or great repeal bill;
The scrapping of the ID card scheme, the national identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point database;
Outlawing the fingerprinting of children at school without parental permission;
The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency;
Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database;
The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury;
The restoration of rights to non-violent protest;
The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech;
Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation;
Further regulation of CCTV;
Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason;
A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.

Trying to grip the issues involved... (4, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373416)

I Finland everyone has a national identification number. Censuses haven't been done in my lifetime, no need. A drivers license, passport, social security card or ID card identifies the citizens with this number. I'm not sure if there's a law that says you have to posess one of the above, it's just something everyone has anyway.

Still there haven't been any major issues. Is this because the Finnish government is simply less corrupt that many others? I don't have a problem with having a number assigned to me. In fact that number ensures I can use all the services my taxes pay for, like working health care.

So am I living in some socialist police state, or is it just a matter of what kind of government implements this kind of a scheme?

Re:Trying to grip the issues involved... (2, Insightful)

jcupitt65 (68879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373600)

The issue was data protection, not the cards themselves.

UK data protection law (I think this is an EU-wide thing now?) says (among other things) thst you can't use personal information gathered for one purpose for another purpose without the consent of the people involved. This means you can't link databases together. The TV licence database can't be linked to the healthcare database or the police database or ... well, anything really.

Two things help enforce this separation. First, it's illegal (heh), and second, it's impossible to do automatically since all these databases have different ways of establishing identity. There's no 'citizen number' that can be used as a common key for a join, and no way to make one (how can you be sure that the JAMES SMITH of 23 Pootle Gardens in the car license DB is the same JIM SMITH of 23 Potle Gdns in the TV license DB?). One of the purposes of the UK ID card scheme was to introduce a robust citizen ID that could be a common way to index databases (and could reduce costs by having a single identity register).

So the concern was that ID cards were a prelude to the more-or-less complete loss of data protection, at least as far as data held by government went. Moves were already being made last year to grant large data protection exemptions to government.

The ID database would no doubt have crept into the private sector too and be used to identify people for bank accounts and internet services and all that stuff as well. It's easy to imagine a future where data protection no longer really exists at all, where even minor government officials (perhaps under an 'anti-terrorist' banner) could browse almost every piece of information held anywhere on any UK citizen.

Anyway, the loss of the national ID register makes this, at least technically, much more difficult.

How naive. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373602)

When Augusto Pinochet came to power, one of the first things he did was to round up the offices of the Socialist party and get their membership records.

With that list they just went, knocked to the doors of their political oponents, and dealt with them with the brutality characteristic of right wing extremists (when Pinochet died Chilean youngsters saluted the departed leader with Neo Nazi salutes, how ironic that Maggie Thatcher was such a good friend of this bastard).

Europeans, having experienced totalitarian regimes in the last 100 years ( Stalinists in most of Eastern Europe, Fascists in Central and Mediterranean Europe, Ultra Nationalists in the Balkans) one would have thought would be the most reacious people in the world to any form of such political control (which is what it is: no ID, no services. Neat.)

With all its faults, the UK, one of the few countries that escaped totalitarian regimes in recent history, has a sizeable amount of the population with whom this kind of policy seats uncomfortably, even if that means a bit less conveneince during dealing with official business of any kind.

It was only the prominence of Labour (many of its ministers former Left Wing nutcases, i.e. proponents of an overpowering overview of the state of everything) what permitted the idea of ID cards being a good idea. One or two of them actually became closely associated with companies with interest in promoting ID cards after they left office in disgrace.

There is no reason you should not have a number to access your services, the problem is it being unique and the government, not you, having control about who can access the personal information associated to it.

 

Re:Trying to grip the issues involved... (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373622)

I Finland everyone has a national identification number. Censuses haven't been done in my lifetime, no need. A drivers license, passport, social security card or ID card identifies the citizens with this number. I'm not sure if there's a law that says you have to posess one of the above, it's just something everyone has anyway.

Still there haven't been any major issues. Is this because the Finnish government is simply less corrupt that many others? I don't have a problem with having a number assigned to me. In fact that number ensures I can use all the services my taxes pay for, like working health care.

So am I living in some socialist police state, or is it just a matter of what kind of government implements this kind of a scheme?

No, we all have a National insurance number in the UK as well, the problem with this scheme wasn't the card but the database behind it; it was going to keep ~50 pieces of personal data on all of us and wanted to charge everyone £30 for the privilege of having one. More info here: http://www.no2id.net/IDSchemes/FAQ/ [no2id.net]

Re:Trying to grip the issues involved... (3, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373684)

Partly. The Nordic countries in general have exceptional institutions and the lowest levels of corruption in the world. It's not unreasonable that you trust your government to administer such a scheme, because it is in general run for the better. Unlike you, I don't trust my government's ability to not misuse data and in any case I don't really see the problem with the systems we have evolved to deal with ID in Britain.

Re:Trying to grip the issues involved... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373766)

I Finland everyone has a national identification number. ...
I don't have a problem with having a number assigned to me. ...

I Gattaca this motion.

Re:Trying to grip the issues involved... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373806)

Yeah, I live in spain, they have ID cards, and they don't get it either. It's not about the cards themselves, it's about the single, giant database behind it, and the requirement to have ID. In .uk and the ex-colonies we don't have ID cards or have to carry ID. We are not numbers ;-)

The point is, it is not up to you to prove who your are. You don't have to identify yourself to the government, you don't belong to them, or work for them. You shouldn't have to carry ID to stop the police from locking you up for failing to ID yourself. You are a private citizen, with the emphasis on *private*. As long as you pay your taxes and pay for the services you receive (via social security or whatever) they really have no right to know anything about you.

As you say, in countries where ID cards exist you guys are so used to it you dont realise it's something that is quite repugnant in a supposedly free society.

> I'm not sure if there's a law that says you have to posess one of the above, it's just something everyone has anyway.

Actually, *we* don't. And neither should you.

The onus is on them to identify themselves, and justify themselves, to you, not the other way around.

(And I bet you'll find your ID number/card is compulsory in .fi)

They need to make ONE change to Libel law (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373452)

All they need to do is to require that the person who is being sued, the person who is doing the suing or both must be a resident of the UK.

That will stop 99% of the "libel shopping" where someone/some company not located in the UK sues someone else/some other company not located in the UK using UK courts just because it happens to be possible to access the alleged libelous content from a computer located in the UK.

It's the database, silly (3, Insightful)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373468)

Plenty of very democratic countries (in Scandinavia a.o.) have ID cards. Your "rights" don't get cut down by running around with a silly piece of plastic. If a cop really wants to identify you, how hard can it be? Drivers license, credit card, social insurance. The whole question is how it is USED, and who gets access to the database behind it. Fantastic new system at the library. Borrow a book by simply swiping your ID card past this terminal. Does that mean a cop driving behind me and entering my cars license plate in the cruisers computer can see which books I have checked out lately? ID cards are OK, if they are done in a country where an independent "data-police" makes sure the data does not get abused. And no, that is not a joke, here in Denmark we have exactly that [datatilsynet.dk]

Re:It's the database, silly (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373630)

You should check out the plans for exactly what went on the ID card and in the National ID Register before you make comparisons to superficially similar schemes in other countries.

In any case, identity theft makes this whole concept a bad idea. You should never have to prove your identity, you should have to prove that you have the right to be doing whatever you are doing - role based access control. This makes it much harder to steal someone's identity, because you have to steal a large set of mostly-independent credentials. Security experts have been paid to tell the government this for the last five years but, like most other expert consultants employed by the last government, their advice has been completely ignored.

as well as (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373472)

However, the main driver for the change in this policy seems to be the 800-million-pound cost.

That, and the fact that it doesn't really add anything that they don't have already somewhere else, so what's the point?

What is the privacy debate about? (1)

Dilaudid (574715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373502)

I don't understand the privacy issue. I like the lib dems, I'm glad they are in power, and I think ID cards are expensive - but I don't understand why this is such a massive issue for so many people. I'm not afraid of CCTV and I'm not afraid of ID cards. I can't say I'm an expert in the issues (the wiki article is pretty lame, for example), so please feel free to educate me.

The reason I want ID cards, is not really for ID cards. I want my identity to be electronic, to make real world transactions, authentication etc as easy as internet authentication. On the internet I can access any site and make any payments with just a username and password. In the real world there are a bunch of ass backwards tools - coins, keys, access cards, phone sim cards and other bull. One of the reasons I can't shed this crap is because of "privacy concerns", which I don't worry about. For example, I share almost all of my personal information with google - and I don't worry about them trying to misuse it. I also share all of my wealth with the Bank Of England - I don't worry about them either. Germany also has a system of ID cards, which works.

The reason I want CCTV is because it should make solving crime a lot easier. Combine it with face recognition and you can build a map of where people go and when. Add datamining, and perhaps you can start to track down drug dealers, burglars, rapists, etc. It starts to get very difficult to commit the really nasty crimes that still happen (although not nearly as much as people think)

The best/most frequent arguments against seem to me to be that it would give a corrupt government the power to identify certain elements of society, who could then be, say, put in camps, and it would give police power which they could use to victimise certain groups

From a purely personal standpoint I don't see these things happening in Britain. The progress of Nazi Germany towards the holocaust was a step by step progression, a series of sets of laws defined the Jews as a separate group and began isolating them. Britain has adopted human rights conventions which make this (I think) unconstitutional. The only "warning sign" I heard of with CCTV was that an operator was using a camera to spy on a woman in her bedroom. That's not something which is hard to fix, and it doesn't scare me.

Re:What is the privacy debate about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373784)

You really want real-world transactions to be as brokenly insecure as they are online?

Meanwhile:
  Nazi Germany had a series of small steps: define the Jews as a separate group and begin isolating them, slowly building up technologies and methods for doing so afterwards.

  These days we've taken the opposite approach: develop lots of technologies and methods for identifying and tracking people. The moment they decide to get rid of everyone who thinks the way Bob does, everything will be in place to identify, track, and eliminate those people overnight.

Today's laws only scare me a little. Tomorrow's laws should be defended against.

Re:What is the privacy debate about? (2, Interesting)

belroth (103586) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373848)

I don't understand the privacy issue. I like the lib dems, I'm glad they are in power, and I think ID cards are expensive - but I don't understand why this is such a massive issue for so many people. I'm not afraid of CCTV and I'm not afraid of ID cards. I can't say I'm an expert in the issues (the wiki article is pretty lame, for example), so please feel free to educate me.

I realised your lack of expertise (or thought) from the rest of your post. As for educating you, I'm sure others will help me out here...

The reason I want ID cards, is not really for ID cards. I want my identity to be electronic, to make real world transactions, authentication etc as easy as internet authentication. On the internet I can access any site and make any payments with just a username and password. In the real world there are a bunch of ass backwards tools - coins, keys, access cards, phone sim cards and other bull. One of the reasons I can't shed this crap is because of "privacy concerns", which I don't worry about. For example, I share almost all of my personal information with google - and I don't worry about them trying to misuse it. I also share all of my wealth with the Bank Of England - I don't worry about them either. Germany also has a system of ID cards, which works.

You're doing better than me, I need several userids and passwords - Verrified by Visa and the Mastercard equivalents or paypal spring to mind. And please tell me that you really expect to replace coins and keys with an ID card. These things would soon have been cloned you realise. And how are you going to get mulinational phone companies to use a national ID card as a sim? And how often do you need to worry about your sim card(s)? As you don't have any privacy concerns please tell us you name, d.o.b. address and bank account details - or did you miss Jeremy Clarksons little cock up by doing this? The Bank Of England doesn't have all my wealth, no one institution does. Does Germany also have the Big Brother database that was going to go with these useless cards?

The reason I want CCTV is because it should make solving crime a lot easier. Combine it with face recognition and you can build a map of where people go and when. Add datamining, and perhaps you can start to track down drug dealers, burglars, rapists, etc. It starts to get very difficult to commit the really nasty crimes that still happen (although not nearly as much as people think)

They have a miserably small effect on crime solving at present, and I'm sure the rest would have been great for the Staasi. You should consider the possible unintended conseauences as well as the stated aim. The fact that it is possible to identify how anybody voted in UK General Elections also makes me unhappy, or did you not realise that the ballot papers are traceable?

The best/most frequent arguments against seem to me to be that it would give a corrupt government the power to identify certain elements of society, who could then be, say, put in camps, and it would give police power which they could use to victimise certain groups

The trouble is these things normally tend to happen, laws get applied more loosely than may have been intended: 'sus', 'stop and search'. and the unlwaful harrasing of phorographers (stretching some 'anti-terror' legislation). Someone one descibed Jack Straw (as Home Secretary) as too right wing for Mrs Thatchers government. Another oft-quoted saying is that Labour do what the Police tell them and the Tories tell the Police what to do. Look at the number of laws passed in the last 13 years which can result in imprisonment and read the 'Great Repeal' bill just announced - and be grateful we know have a Con/Dem coalition. I hope they are looking at Detention Orders too.

From a purely personal standpoint I don't see these things happening in Britain. The progress of Nazi Germany towards the holocaust was a step by step progression, a series of sets of laws defined the Jews as a separate group and began isolating them. Britain has adopted human rights conventions which make this (I think) unconstitutional. The only "warning sign" I heard of with CCTV was that an operator was using a camera to spy on a woman in her bedroom. That's not something which is hard to fix, and it doesn't scare me.

It won't be unconstitutional without a written constitution, it would probably be illegal though. Who watches the watchers? Try Googling for 'sousveillance' or looking into some of Mark Thomas stuff - there was a brilliant radio show where he was highlighting the absurdity of the Labour Governents legislation on demonstrating in Westminster where he got permits from the police (as required) for a large number of different demos on the same day in slightly different places, including one to try and sack the police Superintendent in charge of permits - who thought the whole thing was brilliant. Mark Thomas also wrote a book on the arms trade and supplying regimes with the means to suppress and torture dissidents called "As Used On The Famous Nelson Mandela", and has done lots of interesting TV stuff too. Thomas and I are at opposite(ish) ends of the politial spectrum, I'd label him as a raving lefty and I'm a liberal conservative but I agree with him on most of what he campaigns about - civil liberties, freedom, safety and so on.

DING DONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373528)

THE WITCH IS DEAD! =D

Okay, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32373724)

I'm a legal immigrant, and I'd much rather have a single ID card than all of:
  - Passport
  - Visa
  - Driver's License
  - NIN Card
  - NHS Card (I don't even know what this is, but not having it is a problem, apparently)
  - Probably other things

Getting rid of the CARDS not the DATABASE (1, Interesting)

evilandi (2800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32373736)

Hold yer hallelujahs, people. They're getting rid of the ID *CARDS*, not the database. The biometric database will continue as part of the requirements for passports. These biometric passports are required for travel to a number of countries including the US (the irony has not passed me by; US freedom-nuts, wittering on about how restrictive the UK is, when our passports basically only contain biometric data in order to meet US visa-waiver requirements). The biometric passport database will continue to share data (as it already does) with the relatively new photo driving licences (for example, if you want to get a photo driving licence online, you don't need to submit a photo if you already have a passport, it just connects to the passport database and retrieves your existing passport photo).

The only things being scrapped here are some bits of plastic and a few off-the-shelf smartcard readers. The data is still very much in the cloud, you just won't be able to touch it anymore.

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