back to article Johnson reveals ID register linked to NI numbers

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has confirmed that the National Identity Register contains National Insurance numbers and answers to 'shared secrets'. In a revelation that is likely to intensify the arguments over the privacy implications of the database, Johnson claimed the NI numbers have been included to "aid identity …


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  1. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Big Brother


    "and a unique national identity registration number."

    What's that in barcode?

  2. yakitoo

    NI numbers included

    and this is surprising because?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      NI numbers included

      "and this is surprising because?"

      Because NI numbers are not unique to individuals, and people might treat them as if they are?

      Seriously though, it does allow the ministry of love more chance to data-mine you from all the other gov databases. It will also make it easier to transfer everything to the universes biggest ever DBM with each currently separate database just being a window onto parts of the magaDB

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "NI numbers are not unique to individuals"

        Since when? Please explain.

        1. DJV Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          NI Numbers not unique

          Not sure if this is urban legend or not but I did hear many years ago that one batch of NI numbers got issued twice in the 1960s or 1970s - if that's true then there are a small number of people who have identical numbers to someone else.

          Transcription errors also cause problems - see:

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel very much safer already

    Knowing that my personal information is being protected by the impossible to crack 'What was your mother's maiden name?' question.

    Thank you Mr. Johnson.

    BTW. Can the Reg find out how many New Labour drones have signed up for their commemorative Blunkettcard?

    1. Dave Murray
      Big Brother


      More importantly has the supposedly blind facist himself got one yet? He thought they were such a wonderful idea surely he must have been the first person to volunteer for one?

  4. Shadowmanx2009
    Thumb Down

    More Lambs to the slaughter

    Alan Johnson also said: "He added that between 20 October and 10 December last year more than 2,400 people had voluntarily enrolled, or made an appointment to enrol, for an identity card."

    These all must be labour voters as only they are daft enough to let go of their privacy in the belief that this will "protect" them!

    The faster that we can vote these losers out the better!

  5. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    i cant believe...

    .... that they would tout a figure of 2400 people (out of a population of approx 60million) signing up over the course of nearly 3 months as being a successful figure...

    Hurry up and bring the Tory's to power please!

    1. The Cube

      RE: i can't believe....

      "Hurry up and bring the Tory's to power please!"


      Presumably you are too young to remember the poll tax, Thieving cow Shirley "Tesco" Porter, Jeffrey "2 grand per hooker" Archer or any of the other convicted criminals that make up the conservative party?

      If you think that bunch of thieving, lying, Etonian crooks are going to be any improvement over the current bunch of thieving, lying "labour" crooks then you really do need some serious help.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Your choice..

        Wonderful choice. Let's see what you get to decide for.

        The set of crooks who generated a surplus while occasionally behaving like idiots (who may thus manage to effect at least *some* recovery, or the current set of crooks who have yet to show *anything* positive, and who have generated the largest deficit ever.

        Just to clarify the scale of that word "deficit", that's not a "starting from 0" black hole, that's a "starting from a positive balance PLUS raiding everyone's pension funds" type of hole - in the process introducing draconian privacy invading monitoring because they needed to keep an eye out for who was on to them.

        BTW, you may have forgotten who came up with the "sleaze" tactic - Mr "You never voted for this man", twice disgraced, definitely-not-deserved-Lord Mandelson.

        So well done, intelligent choice. Now go back to reading the Sun, oh, no, they now support the Conservatives too..

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Fill in the blank

      Hurry up and bring the Tory's ________ to power please!

      The Tory's what? And which Tory, btw?

  6. John G Imrie

    Government Statistics.

    He added that between 20 October and 10 December last year more than 2,400 people had voluntarily enrolled, or made an appointment to enrol, for an identity card.

    Either this means that the Government has received 2400 appointments and does not know how many of them have actually become issued cards, or the Government does know how many cards have been issued and the number is so embarrassingly tiny they don't want to tell us.

    Incompetence or failure, which would you choose?

    1. David 105

      Incompetence or Failure

      Those aren't mutually exclusive, through incompetence, they have failed

      1. John G Imrie

        Mutual exclusion

        I'm a Geek if I wanted Mutually exclusive options I'd have written

        Incompetence xor failure, which would you choose?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who Are The 2400?

    "He added that between 20 October and 10 December last year more than 2,400 people had voluntarily enrolled, or made an appointment to enrol, for an identity card."

    Who are they?

    How many of them are Labour party members, doing their bit to support Labour's schemes?

    How many of them are dopey journalists who need the state to reassure them of their own identities?

    Who are the rest?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Labour, Conservative, what's the difference?

      What really irks me about this stuff is the way some people get all partisan about it. Do you honestly think that the Conservatives wouldn't have gone down exactly the same route, or another one that's just as bad? Could you tell me that with a straight face?

      Whilst I get irked with all the sixth-form comedy renaming to "Zanu Labia" or whatever's the current preferred mockery of Labour, what really troubles me is the assumption that any of those useless tossers in any party will be our saviour: all the major parties are utterly crap.

      No-Policies Cameron and whoever's in charge of the Lib Dems this week may claim they'll ditch the scheme in a heartbeat, but I'll believe it when I see it, especially when it turns out it may be useful or profitable to them. The only way of dealing with this is to fight the policy itself, not to call for an election, which really be a case of out with the old, in with the old.

      1. Tony Humphreys

        I'd be AC too

        Did'nt you want to sign is as 'Labour Party spindoctor then'?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd be AC too

          Er, where did I say anything in support of Labour? I thought "all the major parties are utterly crap" was explicit enough, but apparently not.

          Thinking No-Policies Cameron is a liability in waiting does not make one a Labour fanboy.

      2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Actually, no

        The difference between New Labour and Conservatives is that the latter have actually experience with money, and know that making more for themselves is best done with a growing economy, because it leaves more to grow which can be harvested later.

        It's comparing old money with new money. Old money quietly makes more, and a whole family has plenty for generations, new money buys a flash Ferrari and crashes it, leaving the wife and kids to pick up the pieces.

        The Conservatives know the flaws in the feasibility study and how it came to be built regardless, and they know that this scam, sorry, scheme will be a bottomless tax money pit that will never deliver on the original requirement. A sort of Dome version 2.0, but with more impact on everyone's lives. They know that the current scheme is so flawed, trying to use it would cost vastly more than it would bring, and remember that they have a New Labour black hole of a deficit to climb out of, no doubt whilst being blamed by "it's never our faul" New Labour for creating it.

        The only way to prevent these costs (which New Labour is getting increasingly desperate to embed in government) is to bury this thing and maybe try again when it has been decided what is actually required instead of what makes the most money and creates the best after-government jobs for everyone.

        This whole affair started with a report of some 70 professors of the London School of Economics who explained precisely why this thing was a colossal waste of tax money..

    2. Alex Osmond

      @Who Are The 2400?

      You missed a couple of obvious categories :

      1) IPS staff who have been bribed (time off work, free travel) to sign up

      2) Fraudsters who want to be first in the queue to learn how to forge these things

      Mind you, both may only contribute small numbers. About the only ones stupid enough to sign up in IPS are those actually working directly on the Identity Scheme (they have to try and convince themselves that they are actually doing something worthwhile with their lives). And how many crooks are so daft they think these bits of plastic will have any use by the end of this year?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Who are the 2400?

      So, despite your apparent concern about this, you want to make use of the database yourself. Did you think how gormless this makes you look, moron?

  8. Vincent Ballard


    Does this surprise anyone at all? Schedule 1 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 lists "any national insurance number allocated to him" and "questions and answers to be used for identifying a person seeking to make such an application or to apply for or to make a modification of that entry" among the items which may be recorded in an individual's database entry.

  9. Steve X

    shared secrets?

    If it's shared, how can it be a secret?

  10. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    I want one now!

    I was unconvinced about whether or not to voluntarily pay £30 for a card, but then I found this encouraging remark on the application site:

    "Please note that you are required by law to keep IPS informed of any changes to your personal information. The guidance notes which accompany the form explain how to do this. If you deliberately choose not to let IPS know that your details have changed, you may have to pay a civil penalty of up to £1,000. Once you update your details, the penalty may be waived."

    I'd love to pay £30 for the opportunity to be fined £1000 - it's like a lottery!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      ID apostacy

      So joining up is optional but once in you aren't allowed to leave.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @ID apostacy

        >"So joining up is optional but once in you aren't allowed to leave."

        Yes, really, no joke. You're on an utter hiding to nothing. Worst deal ever. Why anyone but a masochist would jump up and volunteer themselves for this vast liability is beyond me.

      2. I didn't do IT.

        Pet Shop Boys

        Album: Fundamental. Song: "Integral".

        Hear it. Love it. Live it.

        - Love, Alan Johnson.

      3. Spanners Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Like the song

        Hotel California!

    2. John G Imrie

      A day older

      Please note that you are required by law to keep IPS informed of any changes to your personal information

      Should I writer to them each day to tell them I'm a day older?

    3. Mark Rosher

      Hey! I was enjoying that sandwich!

      Anyone got a tissue?

  11. ben 29

    shared secrets #2

    If it is a shared secret stored on a government database, how is it secret?

    At least with a bank they tend to be a bit careful with passwords etc. however I have no doubt at all - given usual Government IT incompetence that the shared secret answers are stored in the clear, so any person with access to the blunkettcard database will be able to impersonate you.

    Two legs good, four legs bad... peace is war... I am not a number...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    yet more reliance on an already widely defrauded system. How do you know the number belongs to the person claiming to register it? Oh becouse it's backed up by another piece of forged documentation and a very faulty ancient system. W00t - glad these ID cards are going to be hard to get fraudulently.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Can my secret question be "What do you think of the ID Card scheme"

    or would they not accept my answer of "Totally f***ing stupid, pointless, irritating and dangerous but probably pushed in because of a backhander to some Labour MP"

    Bugger.. I've just made my entry a tad insecure.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Mother's maiden name

    Whilst it isn't impossible to find out my mother's maiden name, it should be fairly difficult to know what answer I gave the bank/ID/etc people for that question. Nobody says it has to be the *real* maiden name do they? Using the real one just makes it easier to find out/remember what you told these folk.

    Ditto for any of the other typical "shared secrets" - place of birth, first school, first sexual partner, etc.


    Mrs D J Banana (nee Throatwobbler-Mangrove)

  15. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    And in other news...

    Our beloved dictators, knowing that their time is now short, are pushing forward with an expensive white elephant so they can dare the new guvment to cancel it and "waste money" on a scheme that is already in operation and will, by then, have proven* it's worth in PREVENTING TERRORISM. Using politician style "logic", anybody proposing to cancel it in 6 months time will be saying "! SUPPORT TERRORISM" and will be showing their out-of-touch-with-the-people credentials by "THROWING AWAY VALUABLE TAX PAYER MONEY".

    You can just see the headlines now...

    * "proof". For proof, please see "statistics"

  16. Steve Brooks

    secrets, lol

    "If it's shared, how can it be a secret?" Maybe it becomes nearly a secret, like being nearly pregnant, or nearly dead. Strangely enough my bank just dropped the "secret question" verification routine as being to insecure to rely on for identification for major finacial transactions, so who designed these systems?

    1. John G Imrie

      So who designed these systems?

      The same bunch of incompetent consultants who sold the original scheme to the banks.

  17. irish donkey

    People up and down the country are............

    not signing up for the card

    I would imagine that everybody that has signed up HAS something to hide. If I HAD something to hide I would sign up right at the start as well. Then you could tell them whatever they wanted to hear because they're so grateful you have signed up they would believe anything you told them.

    Give it a couple of weeks and it will pop up on WikiLeaks... then we will know who all the terrorists are.

    Vote for change what ever semblance of democracy is all we have

  18. xyz Silver badge

    Err...being stupid but...

    If the passport database and the ID database both contain similar data on a person, why didn't they just add in another table into the passport database or add a couple more columns onto the main passport person table for the extra ID data? I mean the passport DB can't be that big that it can't be altered or migrated or would that answer not spend enough money? Not that I want ID cards, but......

  19. dervheid
    Big Brother

    Nulabourians tighten...

    their grip on the sheeple a little bit more then. And they're 'providing' full body scanners at all airports too. Everyone thank the nice gentleman with the explosive xmas package for his 'assistance' in that , will you. How very convenient.

    Now, if they can just come up with a plausible 'reason' NOT to have a general election this year...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      do you seriously think the rest are any better?

      Perhaps you should changed your ID to "Tory party member".

    2. John G Imrie

      Not having an election this year

      They could just amend this act of parliament

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        If they were to consider amending said Act, let's hope

        "this present... Parliament hereafter to be summoned shall be sooner dissolved by his Majesty, his heirs or successors [the Queer Old Dean]".

        That would be somewhat worth her entry on the Civil List.

  20. BA

    Re: Mother's Maiden Name

    How about if your mother's maiden name isn't written using the Roman alphabet ? I doubt that they have the ability to key in names in Thai / Korean / Laos / Burmese / Chinese character sets and even if they did there are often multiple translations.

    I suppose there is no chance that they can store them as JPEG images of the writing.

    Yours, Anon, son of squiggle squiggly squiggle(no 2)

  21. Nomen Publicus

    Yes it's deep, keep digging!

    To be fair, the people running the project have shoe-size IQs and have extreme difficulty remembering to breath when the keeper with the pointed stick takes a tea break.

    However, as time has passed, the original idea of a nice clean database containing few if any errors has degenerated to something that will be little better than the passport office or DVLA can provide, using security methods that a child could, and probably will, defeat.

    The suggestion of combining passports, driving licenses and id cards into a single document was rejected for no good reason so driving abroad will involve at least three UK documents, each claiming to contain ID info (of course there are other documents that may be required but they aren't issued by

    BTW, the 2400 applicants are from just Liverpool and Manchester so far. For some reason MPs have not been asked to sign up, perhaps the results would be embarrassing (and result in expense claims?)

  22. Neal 5

    I can't believe all the cynicism

    1) obviously the ID scheme has already proved it's worth in the fight against terrorism. 2400 applicants already, everyone who hasn't applied, must ergo, be a terrorist, how simple can that be to work out.

    2) merging the databases? obviously no one would swallow such a simple solution as that, the British public expects to be ripped off to the tune of billions of £££££££££££££, and their wishes will not be denied. I mean after the MP's expenses debacle, how is a retired MP to make a city living if he doesn't oil the wheels of big business?. Think of the pensioners, if not the children.

    3) not all politicians are scurroulous crooks out to feather their own nests you know. There are a few decent politicians left you know, don't tar them all with the same feather, and Jeffery was only doing research, and Neil was entitled to ask for remuneration for asking that question, don't forget the new expenses scheme only came into effect under Labour, how were politicians expected to make a living before that? Churchill would be spinning in his grave.

    4)Alan Johnson has already proved his worth at fucking up a working system, just look at how good a job he made of CWU/RM relations, why should you doubt his already proven ability at completely fucking it up, when it comes to the British public.

  23. ShaggyDoggy

    Shared Secret

    Please, make totally sure that your secret answers for the ID DB are unique i.e. not the same ones you've used _anywhere_ else.

    That way when they lose stuff on a train your bank a/c etc won't be compromised. I mean, any more than it already is.

  24. Ejit

    2400 ID Cards Issued?

    A much more relevant question for El Reg is; "How many IPS managerial staff were shipped into the enrolment centres to swell the issued numbers for the card when it was launched?"

    Should give a very interesting answer if given truthfully.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    We're not giving away your info

    You are. You must in order to use your ID card.. it's a very simple distinction; but a critical one. Of course, we won't ever tell anyone. We might sell or just lose the info, but we won't tell a soul.

  26. Winkypop Silver badge

    2,400 people

    Not 24 million, or 2.4 million , or even 240,000 - no, a piddling 2,400 appointments made.


  27. dreamingspire

    No surprises here

    The late 2006 change to the ID card project killed off the idea of re-registering everybody and the consequential brand new database. In its place was said to be a triple list architecture of linked datasets: existing NI database (improved data quality over a period of 20 years), existing passport database, and the new biometric database. What happened to the business of logging 'activity' we don't know, because the massive estate of dedicated terminals required has not been built (it was at one time suggested that only 10,000 would be needed, but there was never an interface spec for that port in the now lost original pre-Oct-2006 architecture diagram that was at one time on an HO web site), and, as Mystic Meg has acknowledged, HO doesn't have the capability to do eID - so we cannot use our own networks and terminals to tell them that we have moved house, etc.

  28. Sir Runcible Spoon


    Quite seriously, I would rather flush my entire life down the toilet fighting such a system should it become compulsory* and I urge everyone else to take the same stance.

    It is human nature to look out for oneself and immediate family before others, but sometimes something comes along that has the power to unite us all (such as Poll Tax or Alien invasion).

    The bigger fight is that they are trying to undermine the next generation of voters. Just twenty years ago the difference between my Comprehensive education and a private school education was marked, but understandable considering the financial clout and clientelle of such schools.

    These days most kids won't even know what a private education is and think 'Homer' is that bloke off the Simpsons. I weep for the future, but I'll still fight through my tears, if only to save my soul from a thousand years of bad Karma (assuming it exists of course).

    *or effectively so

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    "How about if your mother's maiden name isn't written using the Roman alphabet ? I doubt that they have the ability to key in names in Thai / Korean / Laos / Burmese / Chinese character sets and even if they did there are often multiple translations."

    Good point. One of those annoying littler areas where fantasy ID card scheme meets reality.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blimey they are brave

    people are going to start tracking information on the people involved with the ID scheme.

    But hey, they don't care if people know their whereabouts, and track their movements, they must enjoy being stalking and having reduced security.

    The rest of us rather like a high degree of anonymity, it allows for more freedom, which is a rare enough commodity.

  31. Maurice Shakeshaft

    NI Number - in case another hasn't made the comment.

    Wasn't there a furore recently about NI numbers? Something along the lines of circa 100 million issued, 85 million population (inc those who've died) - what about the balance....!!!??

    If NI Number is to be linked to ID Card then it is more about 'entitlement' to services and failure to produce an ID card - not an NI Card! - will mean no service, even though you've made a lifetime's contributions.

    The Conservatives wont row back on ID Cards when they need to 'manage down' UK PLC's costs. Labour - New or Old - wont row back as it is about control. Lib Dems appear to have no rudder but they do have a big oar and as long as we paddle towards Europe "Super State" and we're compatible with that then "that will do Pig".

    Stop ID Cards! You know it makes sense.

  32. dreamingspire

    NI database

    "Wasn't there a furore recently about NI numbers? Something along the lines of circa 100 million issued, 85 million population (inc those who've died) - what about the balance....!!!??"

    Yes - and hence the decision was taken to clean it up, but over a long period, by cross matching with the HO database (just the one, 'cos ID cards have the same data as passports and therefore a common database) when we next apply for something (passport and/or ID card). But I have not applied for either recently, so do not know exactly what data they ask for.

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