Trevor Mendham

UK Compulsory National Identity Cards

Dangers of ID Cards


No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence...
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12
People say "the innocent have nothing to fear". I fear loss of privacy. Privacy is important.

Where I go and what I do is not illegal, but it is no business of the Government or the police.

The proposed cards will be the front end to a massive database containing an unprecedented amount of information on every British citizen. Over time functionality creep will ensure that information grows. Data previously segregated and available only on a need to know basis will all be held in one place (*).

Every time you use your ID Card information about where, when and who will be stored on a central Government database. Everywhere you go, everything you do...

Ensuring the security of this data (confidentiality, integrity and availability) will be a massive task. Even if the system is technically secure (unlikely) the weakest element in any security system is the human one.

Have you ever received an email asking you to click on a link to re-activate your online account? Or to install the latest security patch? Or forward a virus warning to all your friends? Even if you didn't fall for it, many others did. No technical security system can prevent user error.

There will be thousands of people with legitimate access to the data in the system. Most will be honest and competent. A few will not.

It only needs a few.

To those who say "it'll only hold your identity" - maybe it will. Certainly the Government has claimed that will initially be the case. However this is disingenuous.

For a start, the system has already been extended to record your address. If you fail to notify the Government of a change of address you will be liable to a fine of 1000.

Remember that it is not just the data on the ID database per se that counts. Once we all have a unique identifier then it becomes an easy matter to cross-reference the ID database with other databases. You can be sure that once the National identity Register is in place other systems will begin to record this key as a matter of course. Cross-referencing all these different public and private systems then becomes a very real possibility.

The Government's own Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has attacked these plans, warning that the UK could "sleepwalk into a surveillance society".

ID Cards and the National Identity Reister would mean the end of personal privacy in the UK.

Have a look at what's already happening in Europe with the Schengen Information System. It is inevitable that the UK Identity Card database would eventually be linked to Schengen, then ultimately to a Euro-wide ID Card.

(*) Note for the technical: Whether the data is in one physical database or distributed across multiple applications is irrelevant. Making it all accessible via a common interface means that logically it is a single database.
UK ID Cards - Introduction

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