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Latest ID cards scandal shows that Big Brother will be privatised

Jim Jepps

Steve Bell on id cards

Today the LSE brought out its thorough report on ID cards. This report had met with controversy before publication when Home Secretary Charles Clarke tried to imply they could not publish as to do so would breach confidentiality. This attempt was met with puzzlement as the government had turned  down the LSE's request to do an 'official' report with the aid of government departments and therefore LSE had not had access to any secret documents to disclose.

You can read the LSE's report in full here Read the LSE report in full (pdf) put together by 14 professors at the top university. This report found a series of serious problems with the government's plans to introduce ID cards.

With only a day to go before the Commons' vote on the issue (Tuesday, June 28th) and amidst fears that the scheme is being hurried along, brushing aside fears of technical problems, cost and legal implications this report could not have come at a better time for anti ID card campaigners.

The LSE report accuses the government's case as "not stacking up" and it is neither "safe nor appropriate" They also found that the cards would cost at least twice as much as the government is claiming and could be up to four times as expensive, a bill we would be expected to pay for in one way or another.

The Independent on Sunday reported that the personal details of all 44 million adults required to have ID cards under the proposals could be sold to private companies to help pay for the ever growing bill. The price of your privacy could be around 750 a pop, and you'd have no say in the matter whether your details could be passed on or not. Of course it comes as no surprise that the business friendly New Labour government should consider such disgraceful measures as privatising your identity, but considering the government's poor record on IT solutions the implications can become all the more disturbing.

This is the first time since the election and Blair's newly reduced majority that such a controversial measure has been put before the Commons and the number of Labour MP required to rebel is far reduced. It's also the case that opposition in the Lords is strong, the London Assembly has voted to call for a national review of the scheme and the Welsh Assembly has voted that ID cards would not be required to access public services in Wales. Public sector unions are opposed and some are saying that they will refuse to implement the scheme. There is clearly discontent in the political classes as well as the rest of us mere mortals who happen to live here. Even the NATO security chief has said that the cards could be a "security disaster" and are far too "risky" to introduce.

What is clearest is that the government has been battered from pillar to post and has started making things up as it goes along.As John Snow of Channel Four News said "the government does not know how much ID cards will cost, nor do they know how much it will save in reduced fraud, nor do they think it will prevent terrorist attack. But they want everyone to think ID cards are a good idea. "



June 2005

Special report- identity cards
From the Guardian
Or visit the campaign website
No 2 ID


Even Bigger Brother meeting
London, June 29:
7.00pm at University of Westminster, Old Cinema, 309 Regent's Street, London, W1B 2UB.

 Rt Hon Tony Benn,
Rt. Hon. Peter Lilley MP,
Alistair Carmichael MP,
George Galloway MP,
and Director of Liberty,
Shami Chakrabarti

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