Wednesday, June 22, 2005  

Identity cards.

A few weeks ago I sent a fax to my MP Tony Cunningham about my objections to the identity card scheme. Yesterday I got a reply, and enclosed was the answer to the question he asked on my behalf:

Andy Burnham MP
Pariamentary under secretary of state.
2 Marsham Street London.

Tony Cunningham MP
House of Commons London

Reference: M1 1887/5

Thank you for your letter of 3 June 2005 to Tony McNulty, on behalf of Mr Simon Morris about the Identity Cards Scheme. As Minister responsible for this policy, your correspondence has been passed to me to reply.

As you may be aware, the Government's decision to introduce a national Identity Cards Scheme was announced in the Queen's Speech on 17 May and the Identity Cards Bill was reintroduced to Parliament.

I appreciate your concerns about the effect an Identity Cards Scheme will have on terrorism. However, the Security Services and the Police have said that an ID card will help in the fight against terrorism and we trust the judgments of those people whose job it is to fight terrorists. They tell us that a card scheme would disrupt the use of false identities by terrorist organisations, for example in money laundering and organised crime. We know that at least one-third of terrorist suspects make use of multiple or false identities. An ID card will reduce the opportunity for those facilitating terrorist and organised criminals to operate using multiple identities. The scheme would also be a useful tool in helping to monitor and disrupt the support activities of terrorist networks.

Many people are concerned about the Identity Cards Scheme infringing their civil liberties. We are confident that the proposals comply with the Data Protection Act, as set out in Annex D of the consultation paper on Legislation on IdentityCards. We are, of course, aware of our obligations under human rights legislation and we are confident that our proposals strike the right balance between the rights of the individual and the good of society. It is also important to remember that all our EU partners are bound by both the Data Protection Directive and the European Convention on Human Rights, as we are, and that 21 of the 25 EU Member States have identity cards, including the Netherlands and Sweden.

Individuals registered on the scheme would have subject access rights under the Data Protection Act 1998. In addition, the Government is investigating whether it would be possible for a cardholder to use his card securely to access his own record to avoid the usual authorisation process and cost involved in applying for subject access. The Government will have to be satisfied that this could be achieved without compromising personal information, for example that another person could not use a stolen card to view another person's record on the National Identity Register.

I can assure you that information held on the Register will be used by public and private sector organisations with the consent of the individual for verification purposes. The Government's proposals limit the information that could be provided with consent. For example, information about name, date & place of birth, gender, addresses, residential status and validity of identifying documents can be supplied. However, the Secretary of State may, by regulations, impose further restrictions on what information may be provided.

The Government's proposals are designed to safeguard, not erode, civil liberties by protecting people's true identity against fraud and by enabling them to prove their identity more easily when accessing public or private services.

More information about identity cards is also available on

I am grateful for the time you have taken to comment on this issue.

Yours sincerely

Andy Burnham.

Not what I wanted to hear really, but the most worrying part was the bit about the private sector having access to the information contained on the proposed cards. This isn't the end of it, oh no !

| posted by Simon | 10:57 am | 0 comments
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