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Blunkett Backs Down on UK ID Cards 374

Anonymous Brave Guy writes "Some people don't like the civil rights concerns. Some think they'll cost too much. Some think they'll lead to more identity theft than identity verification. Some think governments can't manage big database projects and there are bound to be mistakes and over-runs. Any way you look at it, compulsory ID cards have a lot of potential drawbacks, so is the UK's Home Secretary, David Blunkett, starting to back down from the idea? Combining ID cards with passports and driving licenses was the key way to force them on an often unwilling UK population, and seems to have gone for good, but apparently legislation to bring in some form of ID card is still likely in the next Queen's Speech. Is it the beginning of the end of a bad idea, or just more spin to dodge the remaining concerns?"
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Blunkett Backs Down on UK ID Cards

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  • by johansalk ( 818687 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:33AM (#10650716)
    Well, ever the thinker, I was thinking about them as I was admiring our little society today as i walked through a typical UK small-city center. No, keep ID cards and militarized police with their guns away from our peaceful, naturally liberal spots.
    • by TuataraShoes ( 600303 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:12AM (#10651324)
      With ever increasing requirements to have your identity recorded by government, shown on demand, and your actions tracked... there is a fundamental shift in the relationship between the people and the state.

      • Government must serve people
      • Policeman at door must identify himself to citizen
      • People left alone to prosper - no presumption of guilt
      • Government accountable to people

      • Government monitor people
      • Policeman require people (doing nothing wrong) to identify themselves
      • People tracked to see if they are doing anything wrong
      • People must justify themselves to government

      Ask yourself, who serves whom?

      • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:15AM (#10651338) Journal
        To put it in British terms: are they citizens or subjects?

    • Amen to that (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tgma ( 584406 )
      I live in Russia, but have spent most of my adult life in the UK. When I go back to the UK, it is such a weight off my shoulders knowing that as I leave the house, I do not have to worry about whether I have all my documents with me. At the moment, this includes: passport, visa, immigration card and work permit. In theory, I am in breach of the law, because my registration stamp is in my passport, and not on my immigration card. Of course, if the stamp were on my immigration card, there would be questions a
  • by MagicDude ( 727944 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:34AM (#10650726)
    There was an old british show called Yes Minister. It was on the air from 79-81, and it was about a newly apointed minister in the british government (like a cabinet secretary in the US), and satired how politics ran, with pandering and incompetitant politicians and the civil service who really ran the show, but had to make the politicians feel like they were in charge and so on. It's quite funny. Anyways, back in 1980, they were discussing the creation of this national database and they had already run though how it was going to be a disaster and nobody would like it and such. It's interesting how when they could see the problems that would arise from this system 24 years ago and spoof it on TV, that it would take to long for the government to catch up to the BBC.
    • by aaza ( 635147 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:49AM (#10650798)
      Reminds me of a conversation between Sir Humphrey and Sir Desmond (both of "Yes, Minister")

      Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Surely once a Minister has made his decision, that's it, isn't it?
      Sir Humphrey Appleby : What on earth gave you that idea?
      Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Surely a decision is a decision.
      Sir Humphrey Appleby : Only if it is the decision you want. If not it is just a temporary setback.

      I want to know if this decision is a decision, or a temporary setback.

      quote found on imdb's "Yes, Minister" quotes section []

    • ...liked the show and thought it very realistic. I guess we now know just HOW realistic...!

      (I wonder... Does Sir Humphrey Applebey read Slashdot? Is he Jon Katz' evil twin? Find out in next week's exciting episode...)

    • Yes Minister also covered a compulsory European identity card, and how Hacker managed to use it as a gambit to stop his department from being disbanded.
  • Moral: Liberty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BrianGa ( 536442 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:37AM (#10650741)
    It just goes to show that there are a lot of nice sounding reasons for us to give up some freedom and have it nickled and dimed to death, but there is one main reason to keep freedom and that is freedom. Unlike these other things, liberty is an end in itself - it derives from the fact that people are creatures of choice and not like the animals. There is no such thing as too much liberty ... it would be like saying that science is too rational.
    • Re:Moral: Liberty (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:48AM (#10650795)
      Alas, this is a dying concept. Ask your average person on the street about a national ID card, and they use the "if you've got nothing to hide..." justification. Nowadays, people like to err on the side of perceived safety rather than liberty, and I fear the days of true liberty are numbered (or perhaps already gone). The unfortunate fact is that the pioneers of personal freedom would nowadays be branded as extremist [right/left] wing ideologues.
      • Re:Moral: Liberty (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Goosey ( 654680 )
        A favorite quote of mine:
        "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

        I agree with this dead dude, btw
    • There is no such thing as too much liberty

      You obviously dont have kids. Jokes aside though there must be limits to everything, including liberty or we are straight into anarchy which is not all that good for us either. There must be a certain balance and regulation in society or else it implodes. The difficulty is in finding the balance that protects society without excessive constraint while at the same time ensuring that the system guardians cant easily overide the mechanisms for their own ends.

    • but there is one main reason to keep freedom and that is freedom.

      So, ID cards take away the freedom? That's news to me. I've got a unique social security number on an ID card. It's required when I use public services such as health care, when I vote, to show that I am permitted to drive a car or that I am the owner of the bank/credit card when I'm making a significant purchase. And you know what? I like it. I like to know that requiring positive identification reduces health care fraud, that it's hard for

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:43AM (#10650768)
    I already have an ID that I carry everywhere. It is called a driver's license.

    I don't see how an National ID card changes anything. Especially for a country like the UK where the driver's licenses are issued by the national government.

    So one want to explain (in relation to driver's licenses):
    1) How this costs me any freedom I haven't already given up?
    2) How this is supposed to stop terrorism?

    OK, if you want to solve other problems like (a) long haul truck drivers having multiple IDs to avoid insurance/ticket issues, or (b) the fact that we are running out of Social Security numbers and will have to assign babies the numbers of dead people, I am OK with solving things like that.

    And, if it is just one more card I have to carry in my already crowded wallet (thank you gorcery store loyalty cards) ... well, then F' that.

    But I fail to see how this is the end of the world or the world's saviour.

    • You think you should need a license simply to be alive as well?

    • by mogglestein ( 780583 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:42AM (#10651221)
      Because if you dont drive, you dont need a drivers licence. I walk around every day and don't carry any document that can legally prove my ID. Those rare days that I need to legally prove who I am (opening a new bank account for example, something I've only done twice in my life, or flying to some place, usually about twice a year) I take my passport. The police have (as far as I know) no legal right to stop me and demand that I prove who I am. Even with drivers licences I believe that if you get stopped without yours whilst driving you have 5 days to turn up at the police station with your licence in hand. Most people I think want ID for conveniance, since they percieve more and more places are requiring legal ID (how many bank accounts do you open a week?), security and fraud protection are rather woolly issues most people seem to see as more of a nother argument for rather than a personal pressing issue, where is conveniance is more personal issue. If this makes sense.
      • by Oddly_Drac ( 625066 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:59AM (#10651495)
        "The police have (as far as I know) no legal right to stop me and demand that I prove who I am."

        They do, depending on the circumstances.

        "Even with drivers licences I believe that if you get stopped without yours whilst driving you have 5 days to turn up at the police station with your licence in hand."

        A 'producer' is a slip of paper that has boxes ticked to indicate what documents you have to take to a police station within 7 days of being given it. I've gotten away with 10 days and a telling off.

        "Most people I think want ID for conveniance, since they percieve more and more places are requiring legal ID"

        No, generally they want proof of address; this then links to the Experian credit database and the electoral register (which Experian have full access to, but most other companies do not...a recent change to mean 'opting out' of the sold copy of the electoral register is now possible). Proof of address is as simple as a utility bill. You'd be surprised how many times a Passport is refused as ID.

        As for 'ID as convenience', this is a fairly daft idea that completely ignores the problem of government misuse of databases, or even the idea that the government _can_ maintain a very large database after the style of Envision, the TV License people. Who, incidentally, evade the Data Protection Act.

        "security and fraud protection"

        Of course, the chip and pin proponents completely fail to realise that it shifts liability from the merchant to the consumer, so instead of the supposedly superior method of having someone check the signature on the back of the card with the actual signature (which is still the accepted method for cheques worldwide), they've gone for 9^4 combination with a private key that relies on nobody shoulder-surfing in a store.

        Likewise, the Biometric card identifies the person holding it. To suggest that the technologies used in such a card wouldn't be duplicatable within a couple of months of rollout is to ignore the fact that our 'new' passport design was faked within 2 weeks of unveiling, and you can _still_ obtain a chain of documentary evidence for a false persona given the desire, money and tools.

        This is essentially the backdoor to the desired gene/fingerprint database that gives Blunkett the giggles and it's this that has earned him Big Brother awards galore. The man has _introduced_ 270 offences over the term of the present government, and is one of the reasons I'm questioning my socialism.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Being a yank this will probally blow your mind but...

      A *hugh* proportion of people in England DO NOT DRIVE.

      The reasons for this are pretty understandable.

      Petrol in England is really expensive, at around four times what it is in America. There is a reason why Europeans do not drive SUV and prefer same economy numbers like a Golf etc.

      Traffic congestion is a major problem, with london being in almost constant gridlock and there being almost nowhere to park anyway.

      There just isn't the association with, dri
      • This post is actually partly bullsh*t.

        Most adults in the UK do drive.

        SUV's are popular although not as popular in the US.

        Scotland has never counted as part of England. For some reason the Scots always seem to get upset when we English refer to the whole island as "England".

        Scotland certainly does count as part of the UK and the northern most tip of the UK is a little less than a thousand miles from the furthest extremity to the South.

      • You could probally travel from the northest point of England to the south in a couple of days depending on whether you count Scotland or not.

        Scotland isn't in England.

    • by TuataraShoes ( 600303 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:26AM (#10651382)

      You don't mind having to identify yourself on demand?!

      Then why did you post as an Anonymous Coward?

    • It differs from a driving license because:

      1. In the UK, even when driving, you don't have to carry your license. It would be an offence not to carry your ID card if compulsory - this means everyday forgetfulness can easily be a criminal offence.
      2. You don't have to drive. Many people in the UK don't, and therefore don't have a driving license or passport. At the moment, the only people who this really impacts are those who look like they might be under 18 going to buy alcohol. However, even if you didn't d
    • I already have an ID that I carry everywhere. It is called a drivers license.

      That you do carry it with you is not the same as if you had to. You don't even have to have one.

      And the driver's licence is connected to a quite limited (and by all accounts crap) database which doesn't doesn't have the ability to connect it to everything else about you.

      Of course, even a limited ID and database can and will lead to bad consequences. A man was sent to prison last week for using his position at the DVLA to pass

    • Even more intresting, my UK Driving License doesnt even have a photo!

      When I passed back in 1994, there were NO photos on the Driving License, and the actual license is a peice of A4 size (Almost letter, for the Americans here) paper that is folded into four.

      Imagine the look on the faces of American Car Hire companies when i show that when they request to see my license when I drive in the US!

      Althoguh now we do have a photo License card, in-line with most otehr countries, you are not required to carry it
  • by eamacnaghten ( 695001 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @01:51AM (#10650809) Homepage Journal
    There is a strong possibility there will be a general election in the UK next year.

    Not that this has anything to do with delaying implementations of unpopular laws though....

    • They already know that.

      The election system is first past the post. That means that voting for anything but the 2 largest parties is a waste of time, and currently the Conservative vote is split between the Conservatives and the UK Independance party. This means that the Conservatives can't win. The Liberal party aren't large enough to win.


      • It's unlikely that many of the people who voted for the UKIP in the Euro/local elections are going to vote for them in the general. The first step to getting the UK out of the EU (and back in the EEA/EFTA) is getting rid of New Labour, UKIP voters know this.

        Oh, and the Liberal party is a completely different entity to the Liberal Democrats. The Liberals are actually liberal (the inheritors of the old Liberal party beliefs), the LibDems are European style Social Democrats.

        • Mark my words. The UK independance party are a conservative spoiler party. They have been and will continue to suck away enough votes from the conservatives that they can't win. There is no chance of anyone but Labour winning the next election, despite the Iraq war.

  • Feh. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Pig Hogger ( 10379 )
    In France, it is compulsory to carry ID at all time; yet, France is seen as a beacon of Liberty and Freedom throughout the world, and if you tell a frenchman that his liberty is severely curtailed by that, he'll scratch his head and maybe ask for some explanation... France has 60 million of population; surely the problem can be scaled efficiently to handle 5 times as much people?

    Anglo-saxon countries have those terrible hangups about State-issued ID (amongst other things), mostly for neurotic reasons that

    • by Jerf ( 17166 )
      Anglo-saxon countries have those terrible hangups about State-issued ID (amongst other things), mostly for neurotic reasons that can be traced back to the magna-carta.

      I recommend you investigate the provenance of the phrase "Show me your papers." (Google is not your friend on this one, I tried.)

      Neurotic, or another one of those "those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it" sort of things?

      And what about the misuse and abuse of social-security numbers? Video-clubs will ask for it to rent a
  • The article description claims this idea was sold to the English through the promise that it would replace other forms of identification. Speaking as one of those "evil" Americans, I must say that I would not want the US to create a national ID that would incorporate/obviate other forms of identification. It's already bad enough that so many places (like schools) use the US social security card number as a form of public identification, which is something the social security administration specifically warn
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:09AM (#10650886)
    Plans for ID cards have *not* been scrapped in the UK.

    From the article....

    Plans to combine new compulsory identity cards with passports and driving licences have been dropped by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

    and then it goes on to say that .....

    The legislation to allow ID cards is widely expected to be promised in next month's Queen's Speech.

    So, all they have done is backed down on plans to combine ID cards with other forms of ID.

    We will still have to get ID cards, and *pay* for the prililage!.....

    But the Home Office said the prices remained unchanged: people would pay either £35 for a stand-alone ID card or £77 for a passport and ID card together.

    WTF! I have to get this by law, *and* i have to pay for it. So it's a TAX then?!

    ID cards are unnecessary. They are just jumping on the 'Total control prevents Terrorism' bandwagon, and we all know that's a load of BS.

    This is why no one in the UK trusts labour anymore. The sooner GW's lap dog is kicked out of office the better.

  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <<logicnazi> <at> <>> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:09AM (#10650890) Homepage
    I keep hearing concern over things like a national ID card or other mandatory identification system. However, these sorts of worries just distract us from the real privacy concerns.

    Pragmatically we already have national ID cards. Between drivers liscensces, passports and social security cards we have all the disadvantages of a national ID card. I can barely get through a day, much less a lifetime without these IDs.

    The fact that I *could* theoretically get along without these cards doesn't mean anything. If I created a national DNA database (full DNA which could be tested for diseases) it wouldn't be okay if I allowed people to pay $100 to opt out.

    Continuing to crow about things like national ID cards distracts from real issues of privacy. Defating national ID schemes gives us empty victories that make us think we are maintaining our privacy.


    Personally I think maintaining privacy, at least in the traditional sense, isn't a viable option. Even if we win every legislative victory it is too easy to give corporations access to our personal data for a minor convenience. The fact that a few privacy minded individuals might avoid this net makes no difference in the big picture. Any societal harms will still occur even if 1% of society is not in any database.

    Privacy, despite the name, is not a personal issue. The harms are not individual, accuring to you because your information is in a database but rather societal resulting from the fact that a large enough percentage of people are in databases.

    Instead of fighting minor skirmishes against ID cards while our privacy is eroded behind our back we should try and minimize the negative social effects of privacy. The primary danger that erosion of privacy provides is that effective privacy will be availible only to the rich. This is already happening....cameras aren't put in well to do suburbs.

    I contend this is the primary danger from losing privacy. Everyone does socially unacceptable things behind closed doors, be it smoking joints or having kinky sex. If we don't make sure privacy is lost by the well-off at the same rate it is lost by the poor we risk exagerating the problems we have in the war on drugs. Namely, where the poor and minorities are targeted, either legally or just by insurance companies and public opinion, for their 'inappropriate behavior' while the rich get a free pass.
  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by themoodykid ( 261964 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:15AM (#10650917) Journal
    Can someone explain why there is a push for ID cards of this sort?

    Sure, we do have driver's licenses and passports, but are people wanting to combine them just in the name of efficiency or what?

    On the other hand, what's so bad about having a card like this?
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcpheat ( 597661 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:27AM (#10651573)

      Can someone explain why there is a push for ID cards of this sort?

      The explanation is that David Blunkett is a facist control freak in a department of facist control freaks.

      The justification given for these cards has varied over the last 5 years with the current bogey man e.g. asylum seekers(codeword for illegal imigrant), benefit fraud(at one point they were trying to pass them off as "entitlement cards"), terrorism, identity theft etc. but they have not produced a coherent explanation as to how any of these problems would be solved by their cards.

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by UpnAtom ( 551727 )

      Can someone explain why there is a push for ID cards of this sort?

      Blunkett wants a solution for his immigration problem and the police are in favour.

      Currently, illegal immigrants are impossible to track whilst their claim takes months to be processed.

      Naturally, the police are a little bit more focussed on stopping criminals than protecting civil liberties.

      On the other hand, what's so bad about having a card like this?

      I'm much more concerned about the impending database state. So much data is co

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Some think governments can't manage big database projects

    I take offense to this. Why, just the other day I managed the following:

    SELECT * FROM the_people WHERE sex = 'female' AND marital_status = 'divorced' AND divorce_date >= date_sub(now(), interval 2 month) AND age >= 16 AND age Just doing my duty as a civil servant by catching them on the rebound.

    3rd normal form? whats that?

  • by Timo_UK ( 762705 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:27AM (#10650966) Homepage
    All the biometric data will be stored centrally, so the cops don't even need your card to find out who you are, the simply take a fingerprint. This is COMPLETELY different from German, French etc, cards and goes way beyond them. Why the media don't point that out is beyond me...
  • by TyrranzzX ( 617713 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:31AM (#10650975) Journal
    I believe it's the 8th time they've tried to convince the UK people of this by announcing a program if my count is right, in the past 2 years. Apparently, all 33 million of them are giving the government the good ol' n' sturdy one fingered salute. They'll do mass protests and burn their ID cards they will. Now enough of them seem pissed off that the people in government are beginning to get the message that continuously forcing this kind of thing on them is wrong and won't work, time to change strategies. Kinda reminds me of the IP law for software that was forced, and forced, and forced for about 2 years and eventally signed in a very weak state.

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:04AM (#10651077) Homepage Journal
      Actually, it's about 60 million, and it has been tried almost yearly since the 1950s. After the Poll Tax fiasco, though, the British are more confident about defeating unpopular Government measures through mass protest. Also, the British tend to regard national ID as an open invitation to dictatorship. (It gives one central authority far too much information about far too many people.)

      Mind you, the British have changed their minds in the past. The reason Nynex laid all the cables in Britain is that British Telecom were banned from doing so in the 1940s. The reason for the ban was that cable networks were seen as dangerous, as in the event of a dictatorial Government, the media would be controllable from a central point. (It was also argued that if people didn't have radio receivers, it would be harder for resistance groups to communicate unobtrusively by radio.)

      Today, of course, we wouldn't dream of having an unelected foreign Government dictate British policy, control British troops, invade British businesses, ... Oh.

  • A good idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by mrshowtime ( 562809 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:50AM (#10651036)
    A great way to get people to use this new id card would be to make it so that you could not be able to buy or sell without the id card, or a tattoo of the id card/w chip implanted.
  • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:56AM (#10651048)
    The "If you've nothing to hide" and all that argument. Well, ask the Jews in Germany with the J stamp on their ID cards, or the Rwandans who were massacred because their ethnicity was mentioned on their card whether they thought they had anything to hide.

    You may well think you have nothing to hide today, but tomorrow ID cards are the perfect discrimination tool, that is after all the whole purpose for an ID card.

    Why ID cards are useless, or at least, the arguments given for them so far are bogus:

    UK campaign against ID cards:

    • I'm sorry, but that has nothing to do with ID-cards. If you're going to discriminate, an ID-card more or less won't stop you.

      I'm asian, living in Sweden. Anyone who as much as looks at me will be able to tell. I'm legally allowed to NOT have an ID-card. Even if I got rid of all my ID-cards, there'd still be records about my ethnicity. There'd still be records with my address, phone number and so on.

      Anyone determined enough would be able to tell that I support GLB-issues. Another point for discrimination.
      • To be identified as undesirable and butchered. By complete strangers who otherwise know nothing about them. You might think it's far fetched, well it would be if it hadn't already happened.

        e.g. n ocides/r wanda/indangamuntu.htm

        I have no intention of giving that kind of power to the people in charge.

        ID cards are tools of discrimination, they make it *easy*, they make it attractive. You might well be discriminated against for being Lesbian by people who know you or h
    • What a stupid and outrageous argument!

      What about all the countries that *DO* have an ID card? Do the Germans still use their ID card to track down Jews or anybody else? How come they are quite happy to only have a small card instead of a passport to carry around. Do they really have less freedom than anybody else?

      What about the Americans with their driver's license which is a defacto ID card? Are those used to find and exterminate anybody? Or the French with their ID card. Is it used to kill people on a g
      • "What a stupid and outrageous argument!"

        Really? Are you saying that it didn't happen?

        Are you saying that 60 years ago in what had previously been a democracy, Jews weren't identified by their cards, herded into concentration camps and gassed by the million? Are you saying that 10 years ago in Rwanda, Tutsi weren't identified by their ID cards, taken to village halls and butchered with machetes by their government?

        Because it did happen. In the real world where governments change and extremists get into po
      • What a stupid and outrageous argument!

        What about all the countries that *DO* have an ID card? Do the Germans still use their ID card to track down Jews or anybody else?

        You are somewhat missing the point. I do not think (or at least hope!) that our government would turn on us (or more importantly, me!) in such a manner. What we (some of the Anti-ID Card people) are trying to point out, is that it makes it possible! I suppose the Jews in Germany didn't think they were going to be rounded up when they got

  • by flokemon ( 578389 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:13AM (#10651103) Homepage
    Blunkett is not backing down on the idea of an ID card. There just won't be combined cards (ie passport + driving license + ID card) but a standalone ID card instead.
    And it will still cost £35 and contain I don't know how much biometric data.
  • by j.leidner ( 642936 ) <> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:19AM (#10651127) Homepage Journal
    ...they contain the same information as your passport, except for the vista stamps, just in a compact form that makes it easier to always carry it in your wallet. No need to remeber it anymore when you drive to the airport.

    And if you're having a small car accident somewhere and both parties don't want to bother calling the police you can quickly exchage your (authenticated!) name.

    In effect, the ID card is a downsized version of the ID card that is already part of EU passports (the plastic, machine-readable part). And there's no secret information stored on it either, because you can tell how the information is encoded in the two machine-readable lines of text:

    • The lead string "ID" to calibrate the card readers.
    • Surname
    • First mame
    • Number of the ID card
    • Country issued
    • Date issued
    • Expiration date
    • Checksum
    Say Cowboy Neal was born in Britain on 1 January 1977 and had an ID card that expired on the UNIX epoch (just making this up), then his entry could read (assuming the British card follows the European model):
    7101245447G B<<770101X<380119Y<<<<<<<Z
    (X, Y, Z being check digits I can't be bothered to compute right this morning, and the spurious blank is inserted by ./ somehow...)

    So it's very simple and transparent, no Orwellian tech built in. That's why I love my (German) ID card and always carry it (even in Britain) to give evident that I'm me (and not Elvis), fly around without having to remember did I forget my passport, and yet nobody can easily abuse the system.
    A biometric passport, on the other hand, would be a completely different matter...

    Try Nuggets [], the first UK SMS search engine. Answer your questions via simple text messages, all across the UK.

  • The real reason... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @03:53AM (#10651265) Journal
    Is it the beginning of the end of a bad idea, or just more spin to dodge the remaining concerns?

    No silly - there is an election coming up.
  • No he's not! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Builder ( 103701 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:05AM (#10651306)
    He's not backing down on ID cards - in reality, we're moving away from voluntary and towards compulsory!

    He's backing down on the idea of a combined card to serve as a drivers licence, ID card, etc. Instead, we will have to carry separate cards for each of these functions.

    And the clever thing is the way that he is forcing them on us. When you renew your passport you will be forced to get an ID card as well. And you will have to pay GBP35 for the privilege! If you don't want an ID card, the only way to avoid it is to not get a passport - this is a problem for many of us who have to travel on business.
    • So, standardize the information. Make it so that the information on the card is the same regardless of wether you have a passport, ID-card or drivers license, like the way it's over here.

      That way, you would only need EITHER a passport, ID-card or drivers license to identify yourself.
  • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:24AM (#10651372) Homepage Journal
    I've said this several times before in slashdot id card discussions, but I've yet to have a sensible explanation for it.

    Why do I need to carry biometric data about my eyes and fingerprints with me, when I'm already taking my actual eyes and fingerprints?

    If we are going to be identified by biometric data, how can looking at a forgable, breakable, swappable, stealable card be more reliable than looking at the actual evidence?
    • Because the biometric tech is only good enough to validate that you are the same as the person identified on the card.

      The technology is not capable of matching your biometric data (eg your retina scan) with a unique individual on the database - your retina would match you + several other people, so the system wouldn't know whether the person standing there was John Smith or Osama Bin Laden, who (from the system's point of view) have identical retinas.
  • Having a high quality national ID card, with or without biometrics, is a good thing: it lets you prove more reliably who you are when you choose to.

    What's a bad thing is to make carrying and showing a national ID mandatory. What's also bad is storing the biometric identifiers or other new information contained on it in a national database (the other information on it is in numerous national databases already anyway).
  • by clare-ents ( 153285 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:01AM (#10651500) Homepage 951945.stm

    A man who worked for the driving licence authority misused his access to their database to pass details to Animal Rights protestors about people who may be involved with Chris Hall - a breeder of guinea pigs for medical testing.

    The details of 13 people were handed out and a variety of offences of criminal damage were conducted against them, including smashed windows and pushing a hosepipe through the front door to fill the house with water.

    It's not just the government who'll have access to the database, it's every employee too.

    • It's not just the government who'll have access to the database, it's every employee too.

      Well, it is just the government who'll have access to the database. But you have to understand what the government is in the context of "who requires access to this system?"

      It's not Tony Blair.

      It's not the Labour Party.

      It's every single government agency. That's driving licenses, social security, healthcare, local councils, law enforcement and education just off the top of my head.

      Does the person who thinks they
  • by lga ( 172042 ) * on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:19AM (#10651558) Homepage Journal

    David Blunkett is not backing down on ID cards.

    The headline is misleading. The change that the BBC is referring to is that the the government will not make the ID card the same item as the passport and the driving license like the government was originally planning.

    What has not changed is that anyone applying for a passport will still have to submit to biometric data collection, pay an extra fee for a new card, and be issued an ID card. The Register [] is more informative on the subject than the BBC in this case.

    David Blunkett is still ignoring criticism of the scheme from the Home Office Affairs Committee, the public consultation, and thousands of people writing in to object. Not only that, but he knows that most of the members of parliment object as well so he has lied constantly about what the card will be and do in order to get parliment to accept it. It started out as an imigrants entitlement card, then an NHS card, then a voluntary ID card, and now it's to be compulsory to be issued a card but not to carry it. Expect that to change soon after everyone has one.

  • by Catullus ( 30857 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:23AM (#10651564) Journal
    There are a few organisations in the UK whom you may be interested in. Also, I should point out the the Liberal Democrat [] party is the only major UK political party that's against ID cards.
  • Useful in some cases (Score:3, Informative)

    by KontinMonet ( 737319 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @05:43AM (#10651611) Homepage Journal
    I recently returned to the UK from the continent after nearly a decade in France, Holland, Germany and Switzerland.

    Mostly in Germany and Switzerland, nothing happens without your ID but it makes life easy getting an apartment, opening bank accounts, getting mobile phone contracts and so on. In the UK, in the absence of an ID card, opening a bank account was a complete pain.

    I am British, with a passport and NI number. But these are no good for opening a bank account in the UK (unless you already have a UK bank account...). The rules are that you have to show a recent utility bill (or equivalent) with your name and current address plus other forms of identification. Of course, to get such a utility bill, I had to get an apartment but a lot of landlords want your bank account so that they can be assured of regular and timely payment. A vicious circle which proved frustrating to break.

    The banks do offer to write to your foreign bank but the British, being such insular little islanders expect everything to be conducted in English, even if you have only just arrived from a small island off Japan. They will not attempt to communicate even in another major European language. In contrast, European banks often conduct their operations in several major languages.

    To survive, I had to use the services of a friend's bank account (gotta be someone you can trust implicitly) until after several months, I was able to get an apartment and then, after having a utility bill, open my own account.

    I've spoken to other foreigners (Swedish, Spanish, Bulgarian etc.) who all had to go through the same farcical process. All come from places where ID cards are the norm and wonder why the UK has to make life so difficult.

    I note that 'Blind Man' Blunkett (the current and, one fervently hopes only temporary, Home Secretary) is possibly rejecting the notion of an ID card, not because it might make things easier for ordinary citizens but because there might be workarounds for crooks and terrorists. This is typical of the horrendously authoritarian Blunkett, nothing he does is for Joe Soap but only to simplify (to make more 'efficient') police powers and processes. See, for example the US-UK Extradition Treaty 2003 []
  • by blackest_k ( 761565 ) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @11:39AM (#10654112) Homepage Journal
    when the EU was enlarged in May, working rights were granted to citizens of the new member states, however Mr Blunkett felt this was a perfect opportunity to trial his new ID card Scheme.

    Each person has to register within a month paying a 50 pound fee sending their passport and a letter from their Employer.

    This scheme has had problems mainly relating to the processing of applications, taking too long to return passports, failure to recognise that some workers are students and will work here in the summer only- much as students do all over the world.

    however, there is a second process which has to be gone through too which is the issuing of a permanent National Insurance number.

    Having provided the necessary evidence to the goverment once, to get the id card issued you would think that issuing a national insurance number should be automatic.
    Nationality proven, identity proven, a legitimate job but no it seems the goverment doesn't trust its own ID card scheme and requires a second round of applications and interviews this time with the DWP department of work and pensions. they require passport, letter from employer .. basically the same information and evidence that was required for the workers registration scheme.

    As was explained to me by the WRS Manager this scheme Establishes Nationality it doesn't establish Identity.

    The scheme is improving however now they will check and return passports on reciept and record the recorded delivery number which is issued by the royal mail so now they will be able to know what they have done with peoples passports.

    The issueing of permanent National Insurance Numbers is quite critical for non uk nationals,the employer in this country has the responsibility of ensuring someone he employees is legal and a number of employers are not prepared to take on someone without a permanent NI number, with the existence of a National database of legal non uk nationals being created it and the issue of the ID card it should make it easier for non uk nationals to find work but since the goverment will not recognise it as being proof of ID who will?

    As a further example, where the Id card should make a difference is the provision of a general practioner (family Dr), as people employed in this country and paying taxes and national insurance the Id card could be used to establish that this person is entitled to treatment under the NHS.

    currently there is complete confusion about how and when somebody is resident and eligible for treatment in the UK and no clear guidelines have been issued to GP's how to proceed.

    (correction in one part of the country at least the NHS trust is looking to see if they can use the ID card as one simple proof of entitlement to NHS treatment. )

    Now they are aware of its existence it could simplify an administrative nightmare for the NHS.

    maybe soon there will be a positive side to the Id card scheme at least in one area. There are many other area's that could also benefit such as library services and provision of education to migrant workers children.
    simply by simplifying the red tape.

    I know some people might say why should britain provide its goverment provided services to migrant workers, well since these people pay uk taxes and pay UK National Insurance payments contributing to UK society why should they be excluded from the services they contribute to?

    I started this post with a negative view of the Id card scheme, but if it can simplify the procedures to gain access to services or conversely be used to deny them to people wishing to abuse uk services then it may have a positive use.

    The Id card doesnt in itself give anymore information than you are a legitimate member of uk society with rights given to uk residents.

    sure there may well be a lot of data held about an individual all referenceable to the Id card but it doesnt mean that all your records will be available to any agency at random.

    certainly the data protection act is in place to prevent abuses of this kind.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.