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UK ID Card Program scrapped after election (and more)

May 12, 2010

As both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats in the UK had the scrapping of the National Identity Card card scheme as part of their manifesto, the unpopular program has been suspended immediately by the new coalition government, pending further announcements.

The full statement reads as follows:

“Both Parties that now form the new Government stated in their manifestos that they will cancel Identity Cards and the National Identity Register. We will announce in due course how this will be achieved. Applications can continue to be made for ID cards but we would advise anyone thinking of applying to wait for further announcements.

Until Parliament agrees otherwise, identity cards remain valid and as such can still be used as an identity document and for travel within Europe. We will update you with further information as soon as we have it.”

But although the cards will almost certainly go, despite the statement it is unclear yet what will be the fate of the National Identity Register (NIR), the new central database at the heart of the scheme. Neither party, and the Tories especially, said anything specific in their manifestos about scrapping the database, so we will see what happens here – although the statement issued seems categorical about this too. Although the end of the card scheme reduces opportunities for the ‘papers, please’ style abuse of minorities, it is the database that is of biggest concern to those interested in surveillance and social sorting. I have long favoured a secure central government Information Clearinghouse, which whilst transferring necessary information as needed and consented to between different parts of government, would not in itself hold any data. I suspect however, that some fudge will emerge!

In the meantime, the price of the coalition also was reported to include new legislation regulating video surveillance (CCTV) cameras (only about 20 years too late, but that’s the speed of British politics for you), and the review of many of the new powers in the (Anti-)Terrorism and Civil Contingencies Acts (and perhaps the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act too – though it hasn’t yet been mentioned specifically). It is very rare that legislation is repealed or rolled back but we may yet see an increase in civil liberties under the new coalition. The one big worry in this are though is the Conservative opposition to the Human Rights Act – however with their Liberal Democrat partners being committed to the HRA, I can’t see any moves to repeal the act in this Parliament.

I am cautiously optimistic…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Simon Evans permalink
    May 29, 2010 3:28 pm

    You could have mentioned e-Borders, which (illegally under EU law) requires the filing of Advance Passenger Information (passport number etc. etc.) before you travel, even for trips within the EU. This system is planned to record details of everyone’s journeys (within the UK if they can swing it) for ten years. They will pored over by 450 snoops in a building near Manchester to see if they can find ‘interesting’ travel patterns. If they suspect you of travelling with some evil intent, they can stop you without even giving a reason why. If this sounds scary, it is.

    Allied to this is the unauthorised ACPO traffic monitoring system which records all your vehicle journeys within the UK. No-one knows how long they will keep these data, or what, in fact, they do with them, but we know armies of cops look at journey details and stop motorists they suspect for any reason. If this also sounds scary, it is.

    Both systems need to be scrapped if the new government is honest about its wish to roll backl state surveillance.

  2. June 3, 2010 9:33 pm

    isn’t this similar to the US DHS demands for Secure Flight prohibitions on Canadians?

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