Tuesday, June 28, 2005


There's been more not unexpected trouble for the National Database and ID Card nonsense with the publication of the London School of Economics report. The report contains a lot of concerns over the governments proposals. The LSE report's best case scenario is that ID cards will cost £170 each.

In Blair's monthly press conference he discussed the Database/ID bill in detail.
"People recognise the benefits of a scheme that will allow us to tackle identity fraud more effectively, bear down on illegal working, illegal immigration, abuse of our public services and help in the fight against organised crime and terrorism, and these are all strong arguments for moving forward with identity cards."
All completely unfounded arguments (that's a polite way of saying he's talking out of his...). The NO2ID campaign has already debunked these fictional benefits. The LSE report (via the Guardian) continues in the same vein.
On identity theft: "preventing identity theft may be better addressed by giving
individuals greater control over the disclosure of their own personal information.."
On terrorism: "prevention of terrorism may be more effectively managed through strengthened border patrols and increased presence at borders, or allocating adequate resources for conventional police intelligence work.
(Both quoted from summary of conclusions.)

Considering the flimsiness of the government position, it is perhaps understandable that Mr Blair wanted to focus on an additional argument (yes, another one) in his press conference.
"There is now the technology to move to a biometric passport, that is a document with fingerprint and facial recognition of the holder, and to move to that biometric passport will require an interview and then obviously getting the facial and fingerprint biometrics... In a time also of intense global insecurity, there is now an unstoppable political momentum across the developed world for countries to use the opportunity of the new technology to make their borders more secure... So the impact of all this - and this is the essential first step in this argument - is that we are going to be in a position where we have to make our passports here in the UK biometric if UK citizens are to continue to enjoy the right to travel freely around the world... In short, as we start issuing biometric passports for the first time, we will develop a sophisticated identity register. 80% of the population have passports which will all need replacing over the next 10 years. Now the whole point about this is that it is for a relatively small additional cost to the biometric cost, and the additional cost is estimated at under £30, not £300, never mind £100 - under £30..."
To summarize: it's inevitable, everyone else in the world is doing it, it won't be expensive, and we if we don't do it the great British public will have their annual two week holiday in Florida ruined in the arrival halls of Orlando International Airport.

In an almost uncanny way, the LSE report responds to Mr Blair's new "most important part" of the argument in the very report he's trying to dismiss.
The Government seems intent on pointing to international obligations and precedents to justify the introduction of a national identity card. Our research indicates that a national identity card need not resemble the one that the Government is proposing, nor is any nation under an obligation to create such a card. Indeed, no other country has done so with such a pretext.
(Section 2, Overview.)
To summerize: it's not inevitable, we're the only country in the world doing it this way, all the evidence shows that it will be expensive, and no-one's holidays are going to be ruined if this bill doesn't become law.

The pledge has achived more than half the target already. Nice one. The NO2ID campaign are lobbying in Parliament Square starting at 11.30am, Tuesday. I'd love to come but my geography's been playing up a bit recently. People with more amenable geography might want to get themselves down there though.

Elsewhere, Anne and Frank continue their campaign to save the Aberdeen Met Office.

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