ID Cards arrive by the back door

25 Sep

The government is pushing ahead with its highly controversial ID card scheme, under the pretence that it would help the State “prevent those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of Britain”.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith claims that “human trafficking, organised immigration crime, illegal working and benefit fraud” will be tackled by the cards.

Who could possibly argue with that?

Well me, for starters. Can someone point out to me an expensive and large-scale IT-based project that this government has actually carried out successfully? New Labour seems obsessed with proving that governments are incapable of rolling out such schemes. Even the ones they trumpet early on, such as Tax Credits, turn out to be a colossal mess in reality. They’re simply incompetent when it comes to organising large IT projects. And don’t even get me started on their commitment to data security. Jeeesh.

Now don’t get me wrong, Labour has many well-intentioned and smart people. They even have people who are relatively tech-savvy – Tom Watson for one. But the organisational and managerial skill required to deliver on these sorts of projects is non-existent. They bring in an army of costly consultants when one decent project manager would do. Nothing like this ever goes to plan unless it’s directed by someone with a clear idea of what they’re doing.

Then there’s the cost – which we know, regardless of countless promises to the contrary, will spiral and spiral out of control. Again, the consultants get involved and contractors, who won the job promising the world, start asking for more cash. Budgets, we’ve learned from bitter experience, are meaningless in large-scale IT projects.

Last, but certainly not least, we have this government’s proclivity to lean on our civil liberties. An ID Card scheme will increase the ability of the government to control us. And as we saw with the terrorism laws, the authorities have a track in abusing new powers.

Of course Labour, being the conniving ratbags they are, have said that the cards will be rolled out to non-EU students and people with marriage visas, but this just a way to shore up the support of the authoritarian right. ID Cards, in reality, will do little to address the problems the Home Secretary outlines, as I explained in November ’06 ::

The argument for ID cards is however, almost utterly without substance. Our already porous boarders would not be plugged by documentation. Only manpower can do that.

I know the EU is probably leaning on Number 10 to push ahead with cards (ID Cards have been commonplace in Europe for years – but then so have communists), but the whole thing is destined to be yet another embarrassing debacle for this government.

Why can’t they see it?

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6 Responses to “ID Cards arrive by the back door”

  1. andreas@headswitch.co.uk September 25, 2008 at 9:50 pm #

    I think your math thing ate my last comment, but lets try againFirst, successful government IT projects, take a look at <a href="http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/06-07/060733-ii.pdf“ rel=”nofollow”>this document here. “Government launches successful IT project” is not exactly a newsworthy story, so you don’t hear very much about them. There is also the problem that government IT projects are often transparent so any problems can’t be covered up. In the private sector, IT projects aren’t subject to so much scrutiny so you don’t often hear when things go wrong.On ID cards, there are several points to make, on the point about costs the Identity and Passports service claim that 80% of the costs of ID cards will be incurred anyway due to security improvements to existing passports. On the civil liberties issue, it’s worth noting that much of the information is already being held in other places and little of it has any use for any serious nefarious purpose. The potential for the joining up of information is always a danger, but I’m not sure that abandoning the whole project is the only solution for addressing this problem.

  2. andreas@headswitch.co.uk September 25, 2008 at 9:50 pm #

    I think your math thing ate my last comment, but lets try againFirst, successful government IT projects, take a look at <a href="http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/nao_reports/06-07/060733-ii.pdf“ rel=”nofollow”>this document here. “Government launches successful IT project” is not exactly a newsworthy story, so you don’t hear very much about them. There is also the problem that government IT projects are often transparent so any problems can’t be covered up. In the private sector, IT projects aren’t subject to so much scrutiny so you don’t often hear when things go wrong.On ID cards, there are several points to make, on the point about costs the Identity and Passports service claim that 80% of the costs of ID cards will be incurred anyway due to security improvements to existing passports. On the civil liberties issue, it’s worth noting that much of the information is already being held in other places and little of it has any use for any serious nefarious purpose. The potential for the joining up of information is always a danger, but I’m not sure that abandoning the whole project is the only solution for addressing this problem.

  3. tdefries@hotmail.com September 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    (Aaron, your system ate my comment, too. Does the math question time out after a while?)Andreas, that is a fair thing to say about government projects – not all of them go wrong. However, <a href="http://ukliberty.wordpress.com/government-it-gone-wrong/“ rel=”nofollow”>a lot of them do go wrong – and usually for the same reasons (as the NAO have explained). None of the examples in the document you linked to appear to be on a similar scale as the ID card and ridiculously intrusive database scheme (nor are they all UK gov schemes) – perhaps the government should accept that we aren’t very good at deploying such huge systems (the NHS IT scheme is another) in a (claimed) attempt to solve a myriad of problems.Your point about ‘80% of the costs’ is just a government excuse (and besides, 20% of five billion pounds is by no means small change) – the ICAO minimum standard for passports is the usual info plus a chip with the photograph of our face stored on it, they do not require fingerprints (that is an optional standard) or the ridiculously intrusive database.On the civil liberties front, yes there are lots of databases, all containing lots of information about us – and maybe that’s a problem in itself. Regardless, it used to be the case (and I believe it still is) that competent system designers supported the idea of only storing the necessary data for the objectives of the system – indeed this is one of the principles of data protection given statutory weight in the <a href="http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/Acts1998/ukpga_19980029_en_9#sch1-pt1“ rel=”nofollow”>Data Protection Act.But the real issue here is that the Government has failed to justify this scheme! Where is the cost-benefit analysis? Where is the evidence that this is a reasonable and proportionate approach to the problems they claim exist? (probably <a href="http://p10.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/blog/foia/2008/07/information-tribunal-set-to-rehear-ogc-appeal.html“ rel=”nofollow”>exempt under the FOIA on the grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’ or not in the ‘public interest’ for us to see it.)Not to mention their secretive and dishonest approach to it.We should abandon it – we don’t need ID cards, we don’t need the ridiculously intrusive database, and we do need the billions of pounds it will cost.

  4. tdefries@hotmail.com September 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    (Aaron, your system ate my comment, too. Does the math question time out after a while?)Andreas, that is a fair thing to say about government projects – not all of them go wrong. However, <a href="http://ukliberty.wordpress.com/government-it-gone-wrong/“ rel=”nofollow”>a lot of them do go wrong – and usually for the same reasons (as the NAO have explained). None of the examples in the document you linked to appear to be on a similar scale as the ID card and ridiculously intrusive database scheme (nor are they all UK gov schemes) – perhaps the government should accept that we aren’t very good at deploying such huge systems (the NHS IT scheme is another) in a (claimed) attempt to solve a myriad of problems.Your point about ‘80% of the costs’ is just a government excuse (and besides, 20% of five billion pounds is by no means small change) – the ICAO minimum standard for passports is the usual info plus a chip with the photograph of our face stored on it, they do not require fingerprints (that is an optional standard) or the ridiculously intrusive database.On the civil liberties front, yes there are lots of databases, all containing lots of information about us – and maybe that’s a problem in itself. Regardless, it used to be the case (and I believe it still is) that competent system designers supported the idea of only storing the necessary data for the objectives of the system – indeed this is one of the principles of data protection given statutory weight in the <a href="http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/Acts1998/ukpga_19980029_en_9#sch1-pt1“ rel=”nofollow”>Data Protection Act.But the real issue here is that the Government has failed to justify this scheme! Where is the cost-benefit analysis? Where is the evidence that this is a reasonable and proportionate approach to the problems they claim exist? (probably <a href="http://p10.hostingprod.com/@spyblog.org.uk/blog/foia/2008/07/information-tribunal-set-to-rehear-ogc-appeal.html“ rel=”nofollow”>exempt under the FOIA on the grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’ or not in the ‘public interest’ for us to see it.)Not to mention their secretive and dishonest approach to it.We should abandon it – we don’t need ID cards, we don’t need the ridiculously intrusive database, and we do need the billions of pounds it will cost.

  5. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    (Aaron, your system ate my comment, too. Does the math question time out after a while?)Looking in to it.

  6. aaronsheath@gmail.com September 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    (Aaron, your system ate my comment, too. Does the math question time out after a while?)Looking in to it.

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