Tuesday, 30 June 2009

British Climbdown on ID Cards

At long last, the British Government has admitted that its insanely expensive ID card scheme is doomed to fail. The problems with various iterations of this ill-conceived project were legion. Everyone in the UK would have been forced to have one. They would have been very expensive (the last estimate I saw put it at about 203 quid each). It was claimed they would help the War On Terror™ (complete and utter bollocks, ministers admitted later). The cards could have been multi-purpose - one horrific proposal suggested the ID card could also contain your driving licence, your credit cards, your medical history and your passport. Imagine the consequences of losing that baby!

I actually think a simple ID card is a good idea - most European countries have them. But the UK scheme was never intended to be simple. It would be the Rolls-Royce of data-collection and mining. So that means it would be primarily an IT project, and recent experience has shown that the UK government is utterly incapable of managing IT projects. This would have been the grandaddy of all failed IT projects - over-budget, late, and ultimately not fit for purpose. And yet another massive infringement of personal freedom.

The cards will, apparently, still be made available to anyone who wants one (it's suggested that youngsters might get one so they can prove their age and be able to buy booze - but there are already very simple schemes that do that). And foreigners. Yeah foreigners would have to get one, 'cos obviously a passport isn't good enough.

Full story here.

2 comments:

Grumpy Goat said...

…doomed to fail…
…ill-conceived project…
…forced to have one…
…multi-purpose…
…infringement of personal freedom…
…passport isn’t good enough…


Clearly here are some splendid reasons why the UAE is pursuing an alarmingly similar project.

Dean said...

Well, thank goodness you've left the UK. A few points on your blog, which are often not understood or reported in the media.
1. the costs of the system are recovered from selling the product. there is £0 net cost to the taxpayer. And as it's entirely voluntary, if you don't want one, you don't have to have one. Your choice.
2. It's going to cost £30, not £203. They will be on sale in Manchester from autumn this year.
3. Virtually eliminating the possibility of having multiple identities will certainly mean it's harder for terorists to operate - the Al Quada handbook itself recomends adopting multiple identities so you can fund your activities. Not a panacea, but then no one in Government ever said it was. Plenty of people said that they had for thier own ends though. Neat political trick.
3. No onein government ever suggested that the card would contain all the extra bits you mention. Urban myth again put about by those wanting to scare people. The database behind it contains precisely three extra significant bits of information about you than the existing passport database: your fingerprints (obviously); your national insurance number; and your up to date address. That's it. Hardly sinister.
4. Governmentcouldn't function without large scale IT projects so don't believe everything you read about government IT. The vast majority of projects work and work well, but that's not news so it doesn't get reported.
5. Foreign nationals coming to the UK need something that people recognise and that's in english to prove they aren't illegal immigrants. A peruvian or Ukranian passport simply isn't good enough. Not that many people speak Portuguese or Russian.

By the way, as an ex pat living in Spain, how do you ge along without an ID card. Makes life a bit difficult occasionally I'll bet, no? You could always pop back here and get one. It doubles as a passport, by the way, and at £30 is a lot cheaper.