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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The need for ID cards and the *true* costs of implementing biometric ID cards in UK - Discuss.
There are a few issues about the way our UK Govt. has presented their arguments for the *necessity* to introduce biometric ID cards.

SPIN: The UK Govt. claim 80% of people support the need for ID cards.
TRUTH: Latest ICM poll shows collapse of public support for ID cards. In fact, 43% of population now think ID cards are a bad or very bad idea.
click here to

SPIN: The Govt. says "...ID cards are necessary to combat the Terrorist threats facing us in the UK".
TRUTH: If this is the case, why doesn't the Govt. issue emergency ID cards *now* to protect us, whilst they are seeking approval to "roll out" their proposed ID card scheme over the next 3 to 5 years.
Alternatively, they could insist all foreign nationals visiting or resident in UK should immediately have biometric ID cards issued to protect UK citizens.
After all, this is pretty much what USA are doing right now. All the IT hardware/software is installed at USA Border controls and their Immigration Service ensure compliance.

SPIN: The UK Govt. says "...It's imperative to introduce ID cards to combat identity theft".
TRUTH: In fact, "...ID cards will help fraudsters" says Dr James Backhouse of LSE's Info Systems Integrity Group
click here to

SPIN: The UK Govt claims they have "...International obligations on fingerprinting".
TRUTH: There is NO such obligation on UK Govt. The USA has passed an internal law, the little-known Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act 2002. Part of this internal law includes seeking international co-operation with this standard.
This is not an International obligation on the UK. It is the USA seeking to harmonise card reader standards, which also suggests the USA are seeking access to UK ID databases in order to access data on UK citizens. See next paragraph.
click here to

Data Confidentiality:
This reveals the bigger issues about Confidentiality, who gets access to our personal data, etc, etc,
The UK Govt. has quietly passed legislation designed to allow them to integrate or "link" all (currently separate) National databases on UK citizens.
Not publicly debated so far, is that these biometric ID cards will contain not only your Biometric data and Personal details, BUT access to your confidential Financial/Tax details, confidential Health records, Police records, Social Services data, etc.
Much of this data will be definitive, but some will be anecdotal, eg, Police, Social Services, Medical records information that is "intelligence" on their "clients".
This *anecdotal*, ie "officer reports..." data is currently justified to share information on criminals, benefits fraudsters, to protect vulnerable children, old people, battered wives, etc.
But once this personal data and anecdotal reports are all integrated into a shared National database, ALL this data can be accessed by ID card readers. These card readers will be be installed in Border Controls, Police, Inland Revenue, NHS Hospitals/GP surgeries, DHSS/Benefits offices, Social Services, etc. In fact, any UK "official" offices where UK citizens access local services.
Thus, your local Council offices, Social Services, DHSS, Benefit offices, Education Dept, Hospitals, GP surgeries, Police, Inland Revenue, etc, can all access your personal online records. Any of these "officials" will be able to access the data in National databases containing your personal and confidential data.
There has been *no* debate about controlling access to your confidential data by "curious" officials probing your data records for information other than their own immediate authorised use; other than the Govt. insisting this would not happen. Hah!

SPIN: The UK Govt. claims "The total costs of introducing biometric ID cards is £5.85 billion".
TRUTH: Authoritive independant reports put this figure at more like £15 billion - £18 billion.
Think of many of the big IT Govt. projects in last 10 years that massively overran on budgeted costs to decide which figure is more likely.

SPIN: The UK Govt. has said £93 is their "indicative unit cost" for ID cards. ie, each citizen must pay £93 for their ID Card.
TRUTH: Independant IT industry reports that the true cost of ID cards is more likely to cost us around £200 - £300 each.
This discrepancy is due to flawed Govt figures for IT infrastructure costs. eg, Govt says card readers will cost around £750 each.
The IT industry estimates that biometric card readers will likely cost up to £3000 each to provide accurate ID recognition.

SPIN: The UK Govt says "...Biometric ID cards are quick, easy and definitive proof of ID."
TRUTH: Even if biometric ID cards are deemed necessary, some 600,000 people are likely to be "failed" by their biometric scans due mobility/disability issues, eye defects, cataracts etc.
In any case Biometric body morphology changes over time, so it is likely growing children or older people will need fresh scans every 3 - 5 years to maintain their biometric identity compliance.
click here to

The London School of Economics (LSE) have released their independent interim report on the whole issue of ID cards.
This is a serious body of work which highlights in much detail, the many flaws in the Govt arguments about ID cards.
click here to


I don't mind the concept of a basic ID card - no worse than carrying a driving licence.

But I do object to paying directly for the 'privilege' and for the ludicrous costs of running the more complex version of the system being bandied about.

Let's hope by the time it becomes a distinct possibility, our leaders will be 'different' ones?
I think the insidious nature of “big government” mixed in with an ID card cocktail can only further increase the abuses of our privacy. The slow and on-going creep toward “people control” can only get worse with every new form of government data collecting! Mr. d, the next leaders, at least here in the USA, so often turn out to be newer versions of the last with a honeymoon period in-between! Thanks for the background info lukePDQ.

You'll find a far bit more material plus a line by line dissection of spin at work on ID cards over at my own blog - www.talkpolitics.co.uk.

Oh, and if you think that ID cards a scary. check out the stuff on children's registers.
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