The Identity & Passport Service website has some “FAQs and myths” on its website about ID Cards and the National Identity Register. The pages in question can be found at http://www.identitycards.gov.uk/faqs-and-myths.asp
Lets have a look at some of the “FAQs” and “myths”:
- Who will be eligible to have an ID card?
Anyone over the age of 16 and legally resident in the United Kingdom for at least three months will be eligible to have an ID card.
- Eligible? I think required is a more appropriate word to use here.
- Will it be compulsory to have an ID card?
Yes, it will eventually be compulsory to have an ID card once further legislation is approved by Parliament, but it will take some time before the scheme reaches this point.
- Assuming they can get the technology, ID cards will be mandatory for anyone holding a passport by 2010. Is less than two and a half years “some time”?
- Will it be compulsory to carry a card?
No. You will not have to carry a card, although you may find it simple and convenient to do so. The police have no new powers associated with the scheme and they will not be able to stop you and demand to see your card.
- You won’t have to carry an ID card at first but once everyone has one it won’t be long until you do. You may find it simple and convenient to do so because you’ll be required to produced it more and more often as time goes on. The police don’t have the power to stop you and demand it yet but once everyone has one it won’t be long until they do.
- Will information be given out without my consent?
Private sector organisations will not be permitted to access any information on the National Identity Register (NIR) itself. However, in many circumstances, it is useful to be able to prove your identity to such organisations (e.g. when opening a bank account).
- They will be able to confirm that information they have about you is correct. This will help to prevent fraud? If someone gets your basic personal details such as name, address and date of birth and steals your ID card they have all the details they need to commit fraud using your indentity. Just like they do now with the added irritation of having to steal your ID card but the added bonus of banks being less stringent with their other checks. Think it won’t happen? When was the last time the name on your debit card was checked at the supermarket?
- Therefore, the Identity & Passport Service (IPS) plans a service that will allow you to let a private sector organisation request a check of your identity details. This check will then be conducted by IPS against the information held on the NIR. However, such requests could only be made with your consent.
- And there are no rogue traders out there who might lie about it …
- The police and security and intelligence agencies may make checks without consent but only for the prevention and detection of serious crime. They could also find out where and when your card had been used, but again only in cases of serious crimes. (There are no new police powers associated with the scheme.)
- Check the ID cards legislation, it’s not just the police and security services that can get access to the database without your consent.
- An independent National Identity Scheme Commissioner will be appointed to oversee the scheme and report to Parliament. The Commissioner’s role will include ensuring that personal identity information is used only for the purposes set out under the scheme and that no unauthorised extra information is held on the NIR.
- Independent … employed by the British government and sackable by the British government.
- What are the aims of the scheme?
The aims of the scheme are to:
- help protect people from identity fraud and theft
- You can change your account number or PIN, you can’t change your DNA.
- strengthen our security and improve public confidence
- The public don’t have confidence in it already and it’s not even in yet!
- tackle illegal working and immigration abuse
- Illegal immigrants don’t take any notice of the law, that’s why they’re illegal.
- disrupt the use of false and multiple identities by organised criminals and those involved in terrorist activity
- Funnily enough, terrorists and master criminals don’t take any notice of the law either.
- ensure free public services are only used by those entitled to them
- So it will be compulsary to have and produce an ID card.
- enable easier and more convenient access to public services
- Easier and more convenient to have to carry and produce an ID card than not having to carry and produce a card?
- You say now that people wouldn’t have to carry these cards, but what’s to stop you or a future government changing their minds?
The Identity Cards Act 2006 explicitly prohibits the Government from making it a requirement to carry a card. If a future Parliament wants to change this, it would have to pass further primary legislation.
- No government can bind its successor. In fact, there is nothing to stop this government from passing a law requiring you to carry a card.
- Won’t the proposal lead to racial discrimination?
[…] The scheme will be open to everyone and treat everyone on an equal basis. It will also incorporate rules on the production of cards/identity checks that are consistent and do not single out particular groups.
- Open to everyone. That makes it sound compulsary, which it isn’t.
- Will the Data Protection Act 1998 apply?
Yes. Individuals registered on the National Identity Scheme will have subject access rights under the Data Protection Act 1998.
- And what about the bit of the Data Protection Act that forbids personal data being “exported” outside of the EU which it will be when it’s shared with other countries?
- How will ID cards protect us from the threat of terrorism?
The National Identity Scheme will disrupt the use of false identities by terrorist organisations, for example in money laundering and organised crime. We know that terrorist suspects make use of false identities. The scheme would also be a useful tool in helping to maintain and disrupt the activities of terrorist networks.
- No, it won’t prevent terrorism. The British government has already admitted that ID cards and the ID database won’t prevent terrorism.
- If the Government already has a lot of info on me, why do we need an id card?
[…]But what the Government does not have, and nor do you, is a fail proof system that can prove you really are who you say you are. The long established ways of linking us to our identity – a signature or a photograph – are no longer enough. ID cards will link your basic personal information to something uniquely yours – like the pattern of your iris, your face shape or your fingerprint.
- And nor will they have a fail-proof way of proving who someone is. DNA can’t be faked but iris patterns and finger prints can.