Whitehall is watching: ID cards could let Government snoop on our lives, warn MP's

8th june 2008

Image of the proposed new identity card

Identity cards could be used by the Government to create a 'surveillance society' spying on British citizens, a damning Commons report warned yesterday.

The all-party home affairs select committee called for safeguards to ensure the state did not use the compulsory cards to delve into private lives.

Ministers were also urged to make sure fraudsters, terrorists or blackmailers could not 'disastrously' steal details belonging to 50million citizens who will be on the £20billion database.

And the MP's called on the Government to limit the data collected to avoid becoming a spy state such as the former East Germany. The report said:

"We are concerned... about the potential for 'function creep' in terms of the surveillance potential of the National Identity Scheme.

Any ambiguity about the objectives of the scheme puts in jeopardy the public's trust in the scheme itself and in the Government's ability to run it.

The report comes at time of rising concern about the country 'sleepwalking' into an Orwellian future. In recent years, Britain has compiled the biggest DNA database in the world, has put up 4.2million CCTV cameras and now has more than 800 public bodies able to use so-called anti-terror laws to snoop on phone and email records.

Under Government plans, ID cards - holding details including names, dates of birth and addresses - will be held by everyone over 16 from 2017. ID cards containing biometric passports, with details of fingerprints and iris patterns, will be available from 2011.

MP's also called for measures to prevent security breaches. Referring-to the disappearance of two HM Revenue and Customs computer discs containing the details of 25million Child Benefit claimants last year, the report said: Assurances that the Government has learned lessons, though welcome, are not sufficient to reassure us or, we suspect, the public.'

It also said less data should be held for shorter periods. 'What we are calling for is an overall principle of least data, for least time,' said committee chairman Keith Vaz.

But Home Secretary Jacqui Smith backed CCTV and the DNA database.

She told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show that her constituents had supported CCTV to stop anti-social behaviour and added that 'tens of thousands of crimes' had been solved using the DNA database.

The Ministry of Justice said it had to balance protecting the public with protecting a right to privacy.

Taken from the Daily Mail 8th june 2008

Labour Will Force You To Carry An ID Card

Image of the proposed new identity card

LABOUR'S controversial ID card scheme will be rolled out by stealth this year.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith revealed a revised timetable for the cards this morning which will see the first compulsory cards issued from as early as November.

Foreign nationals will be required to give their biometric details then, with some UK citizens being forced to get cards from next year. People working in specific high-risk areas such as airports will be the first to get the cards. This will affect up to 100,000 airport staff - including airside workers, such as airline staff, baggage handlers and workers in duty free shops, bars and cafes.

The Conservatives say that such a move is going against former home secretary Charles Clarke's promise not to make the cards compulsory without a vote by MP's. Shadow home secretary David Davis said:

"It is inconceivable that these workers would not already have full ID verification. "Therefore the question has to be will this add to airport security or is it a way of getting the British public used to an ID card by stealth - despite an explicit promise from a former home secretary that this programme would not be rolled out in a compulsory fashion without a vote in the House of Commons."

The controversial ID scheme will see everyone's personal details stored on a plastic card with a microchip and will cost £5.6 billion over 10 years, according to Government estimates. Ms Smith argues that the cards will protect UK citizens. She said:

"Increasingly, we need to be able to prove our identity in a whole range of ways: when we're travelling, when we're opening a bank account or accessing government services.

"We're all better protected if we can be confident that other people are who they say they are."

The ID project has already been damaged by a series of scandals over the way Government departments have lost personal information, including the list of 25 million child benefit claimants mislaid by HM Revenue and Customs at the end of last year.

Taken from the Daily Express 6th March 2008

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