Orders of the Day — Identity Cards Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 28th June 2005.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office) 4:34 pm, 28th June 2005

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for rescuing me from having to reply.

The second test is this: does the technology exist to make the system work? Again, the Home Secretary has not answered the question, but other people have. One group, which knows far more about these things than our famously technophobic Prime Minister, said:

"This will undoubtedly be a large and centralised system as currently outlined in the bill, and this type of system attracts a high risk of failure."

That was the British Computer Society, which I suspect knows rather better than others what it is talking about.

One of the most potent criticisms of the Government's plan, however, is that it will make fraud easier. This card will become a master key for fraudsters. Its intention is to give, if I can use the Home Secretary's words, "legitimacy" to someone's identity, but if that identity is fraudulent in the first place, it only makes the problem worse. One expert in this area says:

"ID cards will exacerbate the situation. The stakes are raised that much higher if the master key is cracked; it opens the door to all sorts of frauds."

It is extremely likely that this ID card system will actually make fraud easier by doing exactly that.

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Chris Lightfoot
Posted on 3 Jul 2005 12:42 am (Report this annotation)

The expert quoted here is Dr James Backhouse of the LSE. He points out that the government's proposals risk an increase in identity fraud to American levels: "The US has a very big identity fraud problem and this is partly because the system relies on social security numbers as a universal from of identity and this is exploited by fraudsters."

Elsewhere, the Australian Attorney-General has ruled out introducing ID cards and a national ID database on the grounds that doing so would increase fraud: "We haven't supported an approach where all personal information is centralised on one database and a single form of identification is used. Such an approach could actually increase the risk of identity fraud because only one document would need to be counterfeited to establish an identity."

References:
http://www.contractoruk.com/news/002147.html
http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,15766773-29277,00.html