Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


"Voluntary" ID Cards

Anybody who objects to their personal details going on the new “Big Brother” ID cards database will be banned from having a passport.

James Hall, the official in charge of the supposedly-voluntary scheme, said the Government would allow people to opt out – but in return they must “forgo the ability” to have a travel document.

With one in every eight people saying they will refuse to sign-up, up to five million adults could effectively be refused permission to leave the country.

So reports the Daily Mail in “Don’t like ID cards? Hand over your passport.” I have two brief comments:

First, that’s not an “ability,” Mr Hall, it’s a human right, covered in things like the UN declaration of human rights. Your government used to criticize the Soviets for not allowing their serfs to travel.

Second, all non-trivial privacy fears come true–many are enumerated in the Daily Mail story, so I won’t re-hash.

4 comments on ""Voluntary" ID Cards"

  • Nicko says:

    While I’m deeply unhappy with the state of affairs, one should be careful about taking what is written in the Daily Mail at face value.
    The current plan is for the passport and ID card systems to be the same. From 2009 all UK passports will include extended biometric details (e.g. fingerprints as well as photos), not least so that the passports are acceptable to the US. If you want a passport you’ll have to provide your fingerprints as well as the usual details to demonstrate you are who you say you are. If you don’t then you can’t have a passport. The fact that this information will be stored in the same database as it would be stored if you gave the same information to the same people to have them issue an ID card is incidental.
    So, if you don’t authenticate yourself to the IPS, you can’t have a passport. It’s the same all over the world. To me, the troubling thing about the UK ID card proposals are about whom they are going to allow to have access to this database after the passports and cards are issued. Currently this database can only be accessed by the IPS but it is proposed that “banks and businesses” will be able to access it. Since they don’t know enough about crypto to put all the info on the card, the bank or business will call in to get info, on demand. All accesses will be recorded which will allow the keepers of the database to know when and where you authenticated yourself; when you apply for jobs, when you open bank accounts. They will keep this data indefinitely. The fact that the database will list people with passports as well as those with ID cards is incidental to the deeper problem.

  • Adam says:

    So while I generally agree with you, I think that the issue of the data on the card and passport lining up is new and worrisome, although it’s long been implied by the idea of a national identity register. Perhaps I haven’t followed the news closely enough?

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