Friday, July 30, 2004

Blunkett's Response

David Blunkett has issued a response to the report on ID cards.

I'll just pull a few quotes for you. Blunkett in italics. Committee quotes in bold. Important stuff in red.

I am pleased that the Home Affairs Select Committee report confirms that the Government’s plans for a compulsory ID cards scheme will deliver real benefits[...]

Not quite. The report stated that compulsory ID cards may deliver real benefits, but different benefits required different specifications for ID cards, and the gov't had yet to consistently define the specifications; "the changing aims of the scheme do not give total confidence that the Government has arrived at a complete set of clear and settled aims for the card."

The committee isolated some areas where ID cards *could* make the current situation worse. We believe there is a danger that in many day-to-day situations the presentation alone of an identity card will be assumed to prove the identity of the holder without the card itself or the biometrics being checked, thus making possession of a stolen or forged identity card an easier way to carry out identity fraud than is currently the case.

and make sure that our public services are only used by those who are entitled to them.

The committee states "there does not appear to be a consistent set of principles underlining access to government services." So under the current scheme nobody is entitled to gov't provision (I suspected as much). Time to define what public services are available, and to whom. Preferably before we start restricting access with ID cards.

The Government and the public - and the HASC [Home Affairs Select Committee] - believe that the project will deliver real benefits and should go ahead. The remaining questions are, naturally, about the detail of the scheme.

But the Government's proposals are poorly thought out in key respects: in relation to the card itself, to procurement and to the relationship of the proposals to other aspects of government, including the provision of public services. These issues must be addressed if the proposals are to be taken forward. It is important that the Government clarifies the purposes of the scheme and makes them clear through legislation.

So, despite what Blunkett says, the current proposal should not be taken forward in it's current form. And the details he refers to sound pretty major to me.

Essentially the committee has reported that ID cards may be a good idea, but that in regard to the scheme suggeested by Blunkett et al, "The lack of clarity and openness increases the risks of the project substantially"

It is essential that the Government explain its intentions on issues raised in this report before the Bill is published.

We will consider fully the HASC’s many comments and suggestions as we progress with our consultation.

I'd feel happier if he'd said that he'd publish the gov't intentions, as requested by the HASC.


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