Sunday, December 24, 2006

The best Christmas present...

Is the good ship ID cards sinking below the waves? The headline in the online edition of the Telegraph this morning describes the costs and fines the government is suggesting for the ID cards scheme.

These are £30 to:
  • Replace lost or stolen cards
  • Change the name on an ID card after marriage
A fine up to £1,000 for:
  • Failing to update the card with a new address or details
  • Failing to return the card of a dead relative

John Reid (probably with acute embarrassment) admitted that this would adversely affect students since all ID card holders would be asked for "all current alternative addresses". Students typically change their term-time address at least once a year. Recent graduates would also be affected - also a group who frequently relocate.

Maybe I'm engaged in a bit of wistful thinking here, but since this scheme has more floors/flaws than Taipei 101 in both aims and implementation, then Gordon Brown (or whoever - wouldn't wish to speculate) may eventually be tempted to use the FT's suggestion for an escape route:

John Reid, the home secretary, axed plans to build a huge new computer system to hold the biometric data, such as fingerprint records, that will underpin the new cards. The government will instead use existing systems for national insurance, asylum and passport databases...

...the change of approach could also offer Gordon Brown an escape route, should he become prime minister and opt to scrap or scale back ID cards. “It doesn’t close off an ID card scheme,” ... “But it lets the government proceed with two things it really cares about – e-border controls and an identity management system that will let citizens do e-business more easily with government – while allowing a successor to Tony Blair to drop or significantly amend the ID cards project if that’s what they want to do.”

Perhaps ID cards in their current incarnation will eventually generate far more light than heat. Surely everyone's best Christmas present... [except the government's]

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