back to article UK.gov's love affair with ID cards: Curse or farce?

In the general election held three years ago, every party except Labour and the Monster Raving Loony Party (which just may have been having a laugh) had ID card abolition in their manifestos, including the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Scottish Nationalists, the Pirate Party, Cornish separatists Mebyon Kernow and the BNP. But …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad ideas never die...

    Sadly, I don't think we'll see the last of this stupidity. It'll be dressed up as something else (some "funky" e-Identity scheme no doubt).

    The real problem is non-elected civil servants (who only serve themselves) and keep feeding this type of rubbish to Ministers too stupid to think for themselves.

    Anon Icon because it's more appropriate...

    1. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Bad ideas never die...

      Until the EU scraps its European Identity wossname, it won't stand a chance of going away.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bad ideas never die...

        Well I'm not sure about EU managing identities , but I'm sure I read that the UK Driving License is very shortly to become a smart-card, with the possibility of running an identity application which *might* be useable for EU/world travel purposes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bad ideas never die...

          licenCe unless it's a verb.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad ideas never die...

      So we'll just have to be there to stop them again. Price of liberty, eternal vigilance and all that? That's what that means. But history proves: it can be done. Don't let anyone tell you you can't make a difference.

      1. I think so I am?
        Meh

        Re: Bad ideas never die...

        So what are Passports and National insurance cards for?

        1. Graham Marsden
          Big Brother

          @I think so I am? Re: Bad ideas never die...

          You are not required to carry a passport or National Insurance card simply to prove that you have the right to walk down the street.

          It has long been a principle of English Common Law that you have the right to "Go about your lawful business without let or hindrence" ("let" meaning needing permission).

          ID cards could (and very probably would) be used to infringe this right.

          1. Lloyd
            Thumb Up

            Re: @I think so I am? Bad ideas never die...

            The flip side being that they wouldn't be used for anything worthwhile like say stopping health tourism, and of course they will undoubtedly find a way to flog your movement data to marketing companies.

        2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

          Re: Bad ideas never die...

          Passports are for one purpose, and one purpose only (quite a reasonable one) - to allow the holder to pass through a port into a different country, where they will be well treated by the authorities (on pain of a visit by a gunboat) - they are NOT a general purpose ID document, and can be left in the bottom of a drawer unless travelling to foreign climes.

          "Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hinderance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Stop

            Re: Bad ideas never die...

            > Passports are for one purpose, and one purpose only (quite a reasonable one)

            I would agree that that was the original purpose and of course only for the hoi polloi.

            Unfortunately they are more frequently being used as a means of bashing you over the head by border security guards.

            Practically the only good thing to come out of the EU is the removal of borders and restrictions of movement between countries. It wasn't *that* long ago when you literally could just travel from one country to another without the requirement for any ID whatsoever. Border inspection and the like are a relatively modern idea. We've just been softened up to the point that most people don't question it.

            The main purpose of borders were mainly for the extortion of duty from traders and thus the main activity of border agents were the detection of contraband and smugglers.

            That people are now considered a threat in their own right that need to be monitored is an attribute of our modern suspicious society.

            Terrorists you say? Well most if not all of them are home-grown.

          2. Martin Silver badge
            Headmaster

            ...without let or hindrance...

            Not hinderance.

            Not hindrence.

          3. Spanners Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Bad ideas never die...

            Passports are for one purpose, and one purpose only (quite a reasonable one) - to allow the holder to pass through a port into a different country

            Tell that to the people queued up outside nightclubs this weekend. They are using them to prove that they are old enough to be let in. Later in the evening, when legless, they will have the chance to loose this valuable document. This is actually an improvement over an ID card as it is bigger and easier to notice.

        3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Bad ideas never die...

          "So what are Passports and National insurance cards for?"

          But they wouldn't give civil servants the elected government of the day the cradle-to-grave monitoring that was to come with the National Identity Register.

        4. Nuke
          Thumb Down

          Re: Bad ideas never die... but farce and curses on the other side of the coin too

          I do not possess a passport, and I am fed up with being asked to show one to do things like open a bank account. Never been asked for a NI card (do I even have one?). Apparently you cannot be "respectable" if you do not have a passport - THAT sounds like a Daily Mail attitude to me.

          In TFA Cameron is quoted as imitating the Gestapo asking for "Papers please", but the lack of an ID card is not going to stop officialdom from asking for papers of one sort or another. At least I can show a driving licence, but my sister-in-law wanted to open a bank account and *couldn't* because she had neither passport nor driving licence. She had to take out a provisional driving licence, with no intention of driving, just so she could open a bank account FFS.

          I would *like* ID cards to stop that kind of nonsense. Now thumb me down.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad ideas never die...

      Sometimes I, as a Scandinavian, wonder what is your problem. I know only some 5% of Americans have passports and have ever been abroad. But you in Blighty are "better". So what is the problem, I can apply for an identity card if I feel I need one, but I have a drivers license and a passport so I don't need one. Where is the problem. You are not by law forced to bolt it to your head or something.

      1. kwhitefoot
        Flame

        Re: Bad ideas never die...

        Scandinavia is not a monolithic block you know. Which bit of it do you hail from? As far as I am aware Norway has no identity card even if you want one. I've lived here for over 25 years now and never heard of such a thing except occasionally as something that some politicians would like to introduce.

      2. Nuke
        Thumb Up

        @ Scandinavian AC - Re: Bad ideas never die...

        I apologise for my fellow Brits, but they are as paranoid about having ID cards as Americans are about their "right" to carry guns infringed.

        From TFA, the hero of the anti-ID card movement, one Clarence Harry Willcock, sounds like he was a rather obnoxious particular and common English* type, the bloody-minded and self-righteous motorist (in fictional parody J. Bonington Jagworth - leader of the militant Motorists' Liberation Front and defender of "the basic right of every motorist to drive as fast as he pleases, how he pleases and over what or whom he pleases") whom one would think was poles apart from most Reg regulars. Sounds like a 1950's Jeremy Clarkson, and again, the English equivalent of the gun-toting American.

        * Yes, English rather than British

        1. Churro Joe
          Facepalm

          Re: @ Scandinavian AC - Bad ideas never die...

          "I apologise for my fellow Brits, but they are as paranoid about having ID cards as Americans are about their "right" to carry guns infringed."

          You could make an irrelavent comparison like this about anything to prove any point

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shhh, they're still frog boiling

    This, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/identity-assurance-enabling-trusted-transactions

    And I guess the Snoopers Charter doesn't work too well unless we start having to buy email addresses at Post Offices so they know who owns them ?

    1). Control

    2). Tax

    3). ...

    4). Profit

  3. Velv
    Coffee/keyboard

    El Reg, I'm shocked and disgusted. A blatant sales pitch for the ebook. Although if you want to email me a copy I'll read and review it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are there any Loony candidates in Kent today?

    1. ACx

      Kent must be awash with You Kip candidates, no?

  5. Mike Richards Silver badge

    No ePub?

    Other eBook readers are available.

    1. Andrew Baines Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: No ePub?

      That's what Calibre's for.

  6. Jason Hindle Silver badge

    The sad thing about ID cards

    Is that they could be genuinely useful things that members of the public would want. Labour was so busy with its multi billion plans to put everyone on a database (with every biometric possible), it missed this point and bought a great deal of public mistrust in the process.

    Labour also missed another very vital point. We already have an optional, robust form of ID called the passport. Producing of small format version of the passport photo page would probably have bought ID cards into the market far sooner, and would have greatly expedited public acceptance of the idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The sad thing about ID cards

      I don't want your stinkin ID cards because I have every reason to believe (as a law abiding citizen) that those in 'authority' will misuse them.

      If I am suspected of wrongdoing then there are existing laws to detain me until I have proven who I am. I don't see why I should have to identify myself to every jumped up 'official' who demands it.

      Why do I need a passport ? I don't leave the country and if I wanted to travel in Europe I shouldn't need one any as we signed up to 'the free movement of goods services and people'.

      Having ID does not enable you, it restricts you because the issuer could withdraw it at any time.

      Page 3 of your UK passport

      (NOTES 7 Caution This passport remains the property or Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and may be withdrawn at any time.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The sad thing about ID cards

        Bur how are you going to prove to the Germans, for example, that you are a British / EU citizen and thus allowed to roam freely round Europe?

        1. David Paul Morgan
          Meh

          Re: The sad thing about ID cards

          The only possible reason for having id cards would be if UK joined the Schengen zone.

          Would this mean an end to middle class business men being treated as criminals by uk border agency?

          Neutral smiley as not sure...

          1. hammarbtyp

            Re: The sad thing about ID cards

            while not keen on a national ID scheme(large database + government = disaster), I have been asked for ID many times without having to leave the country. CRB checks, opening bank accounts, changing money at tesco, etc.

            Fortunately I drive and have a passport so this is not a problem. I don't know how someone who does not have either of these documents actually manages. The biggest problem is actually proof address. It used to be by the use of household bills, but with so many online it becomes a challenge.

            In many ways I could see an advantage in a national ID card, but this was mollified with the fact it would be run by a government department.

            1. Nuke
              Thumb Up

              @hammarbtyp - Re: The sad thing about ID cards

              Wrote :- "Fortunately I drive and have a passport so this is not a problem. I don't know how someone who does not have either of these documents actually manages."

              Nice to hear someone who has actually thought of this instead of just shouting "La, la, la, liberty, la, la, over-my-dead-body, la, la, police-state, la, la ...."

              My sister-in-law was in exactly that position, and ended up taking out a provisional driving licence just to have something to show. F-ing stupid state of affairs.

          2. captain veg

            Re: The sad thing about ID cards

            > The only possible reason for having id cards would be if UK joined the Schengen zone.

            No, that wouldn't change anything. National ID documents issued by member states already serve as passports across the entire EU, including the Schengen refuseniks.

            The wonderful thing about Schengen is that you don't need /any/ kind of documentation at all to travel across borders within the zone, just as you don't when, say, crossing between England and Scotland.

            -A,

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The sad thing about ID cards

              "...just as you don't when, say, crossing between England and Scotland"

              Well, not yet.

          3. Ben Holmes
            Trollface

            Re: middle class business men

            In my experience, the middle class business men are just a better-dressed classed of criminal.

        2. hplasm
          Happy

          Re: ...and thus allowed to roam freely round Europe?

          Talk slowly and in capitals with trouser legs rolled up and knotted hanky on head.

          How else?

        3. Brian Morrison
          Joke

          Re: The sad thing about ID cards

          Because you'll be the one saying very loudly "I saw my good man, please stop trifling with me or I shall be forced to punch you on the nose."

        4. JulesMoules

          Re: The sad thing about ID cards

          By talking rather loudly.

    2. captain veg

      Re: The sad thing about ID cards

      > Labour also missed another very vital point.

      > We already have an optional, robust form of ID called the passport.

      On the contrary, they designated the passport an ID token, which previously it wasn't.

      While a UK passport was functionally effective as a government-issued identity document, it really wasn't one. Its purpose was to assert your nationality and the rights and protections afforded by possession of that nationality -- like, um, passing through a port -- not that you really were who you claimed to be.

      Anyone know if the "designated document" thing was scrapped at the same time as the database?

      -A.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: The sad thing about ID cards

      "Is that they could be genuinely useful things that members of the public would want."

      Name a few of them. It's your conjecture.

      "it missed this point and bought a great deal of public mistrust in the process."

      Most British people don't have nearly enough mistrust of their politicians and their alleged assistants, the civil service.

      "Labour also missed another very vital point. We already have an optional, robust form of ID called the passport. "

      How many times did the price rise during the ID Card scam programme? Quite a few, supposedly to cover the "increased production costs," but what looked remarkably like trying to fund the scheme under the (passport office) counter.

      And let's not forget this was meant to be self financing

      You didn't by any chance lose a load of contracting work when it finally folded, did you?

      1. arwel
        Unhappy

        Re: The sad thing about ID cards

        When I renewed my passport in early 2002 it cost, if I remember rightly, £24. When it was renewed again ten years later it was £77.50. I certainly don't remember my pay more than tripling in the meantime....

        1. Stacy
          Thumb Down

          Re: The sad thing about ID cards

          Be thankfu it's only 77 gbp... I just renewed mine from abroad and it was close to 200 euros... (Up from 50 10 years ago IIRC)

          The reason why, as explained on their site is that they have been busy streamlining their system, to make it easier for a person to get a passport and reduce the cost of making it.

          Quite how that translates to having to post your passport from Holland to Paris, where they perform some checks (I don't know what, when I asked the passport office they refused to tell me what the checks were, just that my application had to be correct enough to pass them or they would keep my 200 euros and return it to me) before sending it to Cardiff for more, and different, checks (also secret!). Where it would be made and posted to me back here.

          Much easier than 10 years ago when I went to the consulate, filled in a form with the help of the clerk, went back a week later and picked it up. And with the reduced costs obviously 200 euros is a better price than 50.

    4. Nuke

      @ Jason Hindle - Re: The sad thing about ID cards

      Wrote :- "We already have an optional, robust form of ID called the passport."

      Your "we" is making a lot of assumptions. I don't have a passport, and most of my relations do not have one either. But you are right, there is a need for a form of identification for things like opening bank accounts and legal transactions that does not involve assembling some arbitrary permutation of utility bills, Council Tax statements, driving licence, pay slips, passports, etc some or all of which many people will not have.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

    Over the last couple of years there has been a clampdown on underage sales of alcohol, tobacco, aerosols, knives, OTC medicines, magazines, videos, video games etc.

    Most retailers have a TASK25 policy (Think,Ask,See,Know) whereby if it is suspected that a customer is under 25 then ID must be asked for (failure = disciplinary), this is conditioning a whole generation to carry ID and think it is ok to be challenged at any time.

    ID cards are still on the agenda, they are just waiting for old farts like me (why do I need ID, I know who I am and isn't it bleeding obvious from my attitude that I'm a Brit) to die out and they can get on with it.

    1. Neil B
      Stop

      Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

      @ST7 "this is conditioning a whole generation to carry ID and think it is ok to be challenged at any time."

      Please don't try and turn this into something it's not. I got regularly ID'd going to clubs and buying booze in the '80's.

      1. DanDanDan
        Unhappy

        Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

        Until what age, might I ask. I'm 25 and I've been ID'd several times this year alone. I don't have a driver's license so don't tend to carry ID. A lady in Tesco almost screamed "You HAVE to have ID" at me. I politely told her that no I didn't and would just leave the alcohol, she must have misheard me cause she repeated herself. I just shrugged.

        I doubt that happened in the 80s.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

          @DanDanDan

          > I doubt that happened in the 80s

          Things were simpler in the 80s: I just grew a moustache in order to look older and be served in pubs. Inside those pubs, I met several girls who had done the same.

          Badum-tish!

      2. Duffy Moon
        Pint

        Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

        The only time I ever recall being asked for I.D. was in 1998 in a New York bar. I was 28 at the time and had my passport on me.

        I was never asked for I.D. in the eighties, and bought cigars at the age of 14 and beer in pubs at 14/15. I don't think I looked particularly mature either.

        1. Captain Hogwash

          Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

          Similarly, I was asked for ID at a hotel bar in California in 1996. I was 30 at the time. During the eighties I was drinking Guinness in pubs and buying cider at offies from age 13 with no greater challenge than to be asked my age and maybe what year I was born.

    2. The Original Steve
      FAIL

      Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

      Couldn't agree more. After posting my drivers licence for a photo update as required by the DVLA I found myself - at aged 28 - that I was unable to purchase a 6-pack of beer to take to a BBQ.

      I was wearing a suit, was paying with credit card and had my car keys in hand.

      Apparently I needed a passport or no alcohol. Common sense has just left the building....

      1. Brian Morrison
        Devil

        Re: Age restricted sales = ID card preparation

        If you're a decrepit old white-haired/bearded old git like me no one ever asks you for ID.

        Well, except banks. Recently they asked me for photo ID. I don't have a passport and my driving licence is pre photo-licence as I haven't moved house in a long time. This presented them with a knotty problem, but apparently since I've been a customer of the same bank for almost 40 years that was good enough in the end.

        I really must go and try and open a new account without any photo ID. That will be fun!

  8. Magister

    ID

    We all tend to carry things that can "ID" us; credit cards, mobile phones, workplace ID etc. So the issue is not quite so much about the ID as such, but how it is used, what data will be collected, what will be done with that data; and more importantly, how the use of that data might be abused without allowing recourse to deal with the abusers or correcting any problems that occur.

    It simply comes down to the question, "Do you trust the politicians, civil servants and other collectors of data to do so in a way that will be appropriate?" I don't, because they have shown repeatedly that they are the very last people to be trusted with any of this data.

    Unfortunately, I suspect that they will continue to raise this topic over and again until it becomes law; and I can't believe that it would be too long after that before we would see just why it is such a bad idea.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. David Pollard

      Re: ID "Do you trust...?

      It's not just a question of 'do you trust the politicians...' but whether they can be trusted in the future and what they might do with powers entrusted to them by the people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ID "Do you trust...?

        At the risk of giving idiots ideas, I think they have gone with the wrong approach (assuming that they want to have every little bit of info on everybody they can get their hands on).

        Rather than one big DB that is then populated with all your life, they should have created a national standard of DB record. That way they could then get back door access to all the various DB's and scrape them of info to create their utopian state.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ID

      And you trust the banks? Your employer? Oh dear. Bet you think Google does not collect data on your browsing habits too.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: and you trust ...

        No, I don't trust any of these people, but banks and Google can't send me to jail if I chose not to hand over some information one day.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: ID

      I don't use any credit cards after I got badly into debt around 10 years ago, my mobile phone is PAYG, and the only workplace ID I've got is an RFID tag on my keyring to work the entrance gates into my office building.

      It's not that long ago that I could travel by ship to Ireland without ID, and when you arrived at Dun Laoghaire if there was an Irish immigration guy at the desk you simply stated your nationality as you walked past him. Actually, I travelled there last year and the immigration desk was still unmanned!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Having had a long and interesting conversation with the Junior Home Office Minister who was running the debacle for Labour at the time I can tell you that not all of the Labour party were on board with the scheme (including the Junior Minister) but most had eventually accepted it based on the time honoured system of 'you let this slide and we'll back something of yours we're not too keen on' next time.

    It was also quite an eye-opener as to how ignorant of the issues around ID cards many senior Labour figures were at the time of the policy's introducation. In fact their whole rationale was the old maxim 'if you have nothing to hide what's the problem?'

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "UK.gov's love affair with ID cards: curse or farce?"

    Depends on how photogenic you are, I reckon....

  11. william 10

    I find these whole debate a Joke !

    I find these whole debate a Joke:

    How does mandating that immigrants must carry ID Cards work ?

    Does not have a ID card make you a immigrant or citizen ?

    In order to procure work or obtain a bank account we need to provided an identity card usually a driving license or a passport so we all ready have ID Cards, but why must I go to the hassle of either passing my driving test or obtaining a passport if I would like to shown that I a UK citizen – yet as an employer how do I check if they have been stolen it a joke.

    The madness of the current situation is caused by our:

    security services still living in the last century

    some of our politicians being seduced by the ego of big projects

    some of our politicians with the false logic that we do not need ID Cards – (how do you get a job without one).

    The solution is simple, take the ID portion of driving licenses and make them ID Cards, this part of the driving licenses only costs £20 every 10 years. The only addition needed is that the government should have a paid service (say £5 / enquiry) where you can confirm that the ID Card was issued, has not been lost/stolen and not linked to fraud.

    1. Irongut

      Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

      I've had plenty of jobs and never once have I been asked to show ID. If a prospective employer asked for ID then I would turn down their offer.

      1. Neil B
        WTF?

        Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

        What!? Why?

      2. Dr. Mouse

        Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

        "I've had plenty of jobs and never once have I been asked to show ID."

        I have always been asked for some form of ID for a job. They need proof that you are who you say you are, otherwise I'm pretty sure they would be liable if it turned out you were using a false identity for, say, tax fraud or illegal immigration (I think it would be classed as due diligence).

        Most have also needed to know that I could drive, hence needing a copy of my driving license for insurance purposes, and also that I was able to travel to other countries, hence seeing my passport.

      3. william 10

        Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

        It is a legal requirement for your employer to check that all his workers are entitled to be in the UK and can legally take up the job in question. As the first check they should confirm the identity of the candidate and establish that their identity is genuine. They should not undertake any other checks until they are satisfied that the candidate is who he claims to be.

        If your employer only requires suspected emigrants (or people they do not personally know) to show their ID's then this is discrimination and is illegal, your employers policies must not discriminate - they must perform the same set of checks for all employees. So which every way you look at it, your employer should check your ID.

      4. HelenaHandcart

        Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

        UK employers now have to ask new employees for proof that they are eligible to work in the UK. This is usually a passport but for UK citizens it may be a birth certificate or naturalisation papers. If you are offered a job (in the UK), you will definitely be asked for ID, probably at interview.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

      @William10

      Do you really not see the difference in what you are saying to the debate in hand? Nobody is saying that you don't at some points in your life, have to prove who you are by providing ID - we all do - open a bank account, get a job, whatever.

      But this is a million miles away from a MANDATORY ID card that is carried and produced when asked (by an 'official'). "Oh but it's not mandatory it's optional" - And you believe that would remain the case? For how long?

      Most, if not all, of the scenarios when ID is required (as mentioned above) can be met by existing forms of ID (passport, driving licence, utility bills etc) so why does anybody who has those need another one? And more to the point why would they WANT one?

      Remember that each individual ID currently only has the information that is relevant - a passport shows nationality, and does not even have your address, a driving licence does not have your NI number, or bank account details, etc - would you want a single ID that, if stolen, would make it easy for somebody to ruin your life? And that you may have to carry at all times (eventually). "Oh but it will be encrypted" or "Oh but the data wil be in a database and not stored on the card" - We have tech companies who can't stop keys being 'acquired' by one way or another but you'd trust the government to keep it secure (either on the card or in a database)?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I find these whole debate a Joke !

      "Hundreds of thousands of people living in {UK} find themselves non-persons in the only state they have ever known. They cannot get their children registered at birth or entered in school or university; they cannot access state health services; they cannot obtain travel documents, or employment without a work permit; and if they leave the country they may not be able to return. Most of all, they cannot vote, stand for office or work for state institutions.

      Ultimately such policies can lead to economic and political disaster, or even war. Even where they do not, they have been used to subvert the democratic process and reinforce or prolong the hold on power of one group at the expense of another. At the expense, too, of national stability and economic progress. The result has been the mass suffering of people whose only fault may be to have the wrong last name.

      Alternatively, questions of citizenship have been used to prevent specific individuals from challenging for political position or to silence those who criticize the government" (copied from a work by bronwen manby on identity cards and citizenship in post-colonial nations....)

  12. StripeyMiata
    FAIL

    Northern Ireland

    I remember one of the (many) cock ups they made when planning the cards was they forgot that people in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement can have British. Irish or even both at the same time if they like citizenship. So basically they couldn't legally enforce ID cards there.

    1. joeW

      Re: Northern Ireland

      Surely ID Cards, if introduced, would be mandated for all legal residents of the UK and not just UK Citizens. Whichever colour someone in NI paints their kerbstones, they'd be legal residents.

      1. StripeyMiata

        Re: Northern Ireland

        I can see why you would think that Joe, but because of the Good Friday Agreement I can be Irish/British/Both if I like and the Goverment can't force me to be one of those that I don't want to be. Making someone get a ID Card would be forcing them to be recognised as British Citizen from what I remember the rules to be and therefore a no no.

        I myself have a British passport but my kids have Irish ones as they ae 1/2 the price of British kids passports.

        Have a wee look at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/5940723/ID-cards-do-not-have-Union-flag-to-avoid-upsetting-Irish.html

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Northern Ireland

          "I can see why you would think that Joe, but because of the Good Friday Agreement I can be Irish/British/Both if I like and the Goverment can't force me to be one of those that I don't want to be. Making someone get a ID Card would be forcing them to be recognised as British Citizen from what I remember the rules to be and therefore a no no."

          Hilarius. I always wondered given NI was about the most highly surveilled piece of the UK how their ID card system worked should have taught many lessons about this plan.

          But I rather suspect they simply ignored it.

  13. pewpie
    Pint

    Better idea.

    Give everyone a ball and chain with the Queens face painted on one side and the wearers face on the other. No ball and chain - no ID.

    Justification for beer: We quote the great, oft overlooked philosopher 'Billy' - 'because we want to.'

  14. Peter Galbavy
    Big Brother

    ID cards - good, database - bad

    I have no objection to a standalone ID card that would carry a number of security features that DO NOT depend on a back-end database or the biometrics of the holder - only the card itself. In my mind the danger to liberty is in both the database holding copies of everything - because it suddenly becomes the data and the person is now just an instance of that data - and the ability of of others to legally demand presentation of such a card to receive services that otherwise the holder is entitled to. We have already given up on travel without ID so there's not much point fighting for that one.

    1. william 10

      Re: ID cards - good, database - bad

      I totally agree on the biometrics, but without a back end database the cards are worthless it would be to easy to forge/clone or steel the cards (we saw how easy it was for the Israeli state to do this to British passports) .

      A backend database only needs to contain the cards ID, it status (valid, lost, stolen etc...) and an encrypted hash using a key created from the persons name + date of birth, you can verify the authenticity of the cards but you can-not use the data for any other purpose (as you will not be able to go from the encrypted details to the persons name).

      I do accepted that politicians and civil servants are not trustworthy and would include details in plain text that should not be there.

      1. Grimster
        Trollface

        Re: ID cards - good, database - bad

        SQL admin claxon just went off the scale.

    2. trigpoint

      Re: ID cards - good, database - bad

      When did we give up travel without ID within the UK?

      1. william 10

        Re: ID cards - good, database - bad

        This is not about travelling with ID cards.

        But to answer your question, when we put number plates on cars, when we started using phones/credit card/debit cards to pay for tickets (TFL have a proposal on the table to stop accepting cash).

        1. Graham Marsden
          Big Brother

          @william 10 Re: ID cards - good, database - bad

          Do I need to produce ID to travel in a taxi? No.

          Do I have to pay for my train ticket with a card (or produce a card to get permission to buy one)? No.

          Do I have to purchase a non-anonymous Oyster Card to travel in London? No.

          I *can* do these, if I wish, but that's my *choice*, it's not an obligation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @william 10 ID cards - good, database - bad

            Do I need to produce ID to travel in a taxi? No.

            Do I have to pay for my train ticket with a card (or produce a card to get permission to buy one)? No.

            Do I have to purchase a non-anonymous Oyster Card to travel in London? No.

            I *can* do these, if I wish, but that's my *choice*, it's not an obligation.

            All the above will become an obligation, and rather sooner than later, believe me. Just watch how they try to put off people using cash to pay for London travel and channel them into using oyster, and then, trackable oyster (registered). Both by inflating the price of cash-funded travel and by making it difficult to use cash (for example on the bus). I have a nasty feeling it's not only because it's cheaper to process card, it's also very easy to track people, and obviously, longer term. For our own good, of course. This won't stop anyone wanting to blow themselves up in a supermarket, or cinema, or a crowded square, say, on New Year's Eve, but hey, we'll worry about this if and when.

            Oh yes, the cash is on the way out. Did you see a major uproar when shops, train ticket windows and taxis stopped accepting checks? I still vaguely remember then being used in the shops in 1990s. Then - gone. Cash will go - and then, we will all be SAFE ;)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm...

    Speaking as someone who paid his tenner to No2ID, I'm no against ID cards per se, after all we all have various ID and need to be able to identify ourselves for legitimate reasons to companies (employers, banks etc) and the state every so-often. It's the ridiculous idea of making them a gold standard for identification, creation of a national database with ID terminals and fixing them to biometric ID because what you end up with is:

    A Gold standard target to crack/hack, giving universally accepted ID to anyone who can.

    A fixed and unchangeable method of verifying that ID - it's pretty difficult to change your fingerprints, if they're nicked and you leave them literally everywhere.

    An inability to ID yourself should the system be down for any reason.

    A truly massive bill for the terminals, network and back end, which in itself puts pressure on Government to come up with new ideas for how to use ID in order to justify the cost.

    1. David Pollard

      Re: Hmm... prints

      As the Chaos Computer Club showed, it's not so difficult to leave someone else's fingerprints around the place.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/30/german_interior_minister_fingerprint_appropriated/

      And although a bit more tricky, it's not impossible to change one's own, at least for a limited period.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Will be forced on us

    Back on a visit back to the UK I was asked to go to our bank because it has recently been bought out and had to redo 'know your customer'.

    They wanted two forms of photo ID in order to satisfy the requirement. I had my UK passport, but I don't have any other photo ID from the UK. My drivers licence is the old paper type, and apart from that, I had nothing.

    In the end, they accepted my UAE ID card, because foreign ID cards are acceptable.

    But it seems to me that this is forcing the issue of ID cards by the back door - by requiring banks and other private organizations to require more than just a passport. My passport gets me in and out of the country and onto aeroplanes without having to show secondary ID, but I can't open a bank account? Something doesn't smell right about that.

    1. Caff

      Re: Will be forced on us

      The need for ID's for bank accounts is to do with money laundering.

      1. Graham Marsden
        Big Brother

        @Caff Re: Will be forced on us

        No, that's not a *need*, that's an excuse.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will be forced on us

      I know of at least one lady who has not updated her bank on a change of name because they insist on more documentation than they needed when she set up the account. More amusingly, I think her name depends on how she accesses her account because a different part of the same organisation had different rules.

  17. batfastad
    FAIL

    Problem

    My problem with ID cards is that I already have 3 of them! Driving license, passport, NI number. I don't want to be forced to pay for a 4th! I could at least conceptually (but not ideologically) agree with an ID card if it was to merge all of those services into a single card. But creating an additional card and forcing people to pay over the odds for it is pure fockery.

    Whilst I'm on the subject, I wish passports didn't have your address printed on it. Where you live is such a transient thing these days so if our elected idiots want accurate residence information they need to make it free and easy to update, not asking people to pay for a revised driving license/passport. As I, like most people, never bother to update it.

    I would never trust civil servants or members of parliament with the money that is be required to actually implement something like a merged services ID card so it's in everyones' best interests that they don't bother and just stick to having G&Ts on the terraces at Parliament. MPs are safer and cheaper for the tax payer that way.

    How about we take care of the essentials first? Like making sure we can guarantee that future generations will be healthy and well-educated. Or maybe I'm just living in the wrong country (I already know the answer to that)!

    "Politicians are not born, they are excreted"

    - Marcus Tullius Cicero

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Problem

      Passports don't have your address printed on them....or at least mine doesn't. The only addresses are handwritten next of kin...

      Is this something that changed recently?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I wish passports didn't have your address printed on it"

      Your wish is my command........shazam!!!!

      Now if you care to look in your passport you will find that your address has gone.

      Seriously though, I have never seen an address in a (UK) passport - does yours have one - really? I can't even see a space for 'address'

      1. batfastad

        Re: "I wish passports didn't have your address printed on it"

        Ha, turns out I'm a d***. There's no address on mine after all. It's an old visa stuck on the opposite page with my address. So ignore me, ignore everything I say!

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: "I wish passports didn't have your address printed on it"

          Well done for checking, and admitting your mistake - a bit rare round these parts! I was just about to post that my freshly-minted passport (only two weeks out of the gov't printing press) has no address on it. I am still debating whether or not to cause the RFID to have an accident (my previous passport was issued before the chip requirement).

  18. Dr Dan Holdsworth
    FAIL

    Not necessarily a bad idea

    The thing with ID cards is that they are not necessarily a bad idea, especially if implemented under the restrictions currently enforced under current (i.e. post-World War 2) Germany. Under these restrictions, a very strict separation in records between government departments is enforced, and race, religion and ethnicity questions are forbidden. So, to get a German ID card involves a lot of running about between different ministry's buildings with paperwork; inefficient but actually designed to be this way.

    The document thus produced is mostly standalone; the card its self is the ID, not the back-end database which mostly does not exist. This is the correct way to produce effective ID documents; it limits the information the government holds on the citizens to only what is absolutely necessary for each department, and it absolutely prohibits sharing of information. The end result is a useful bit of plastic which says that this person is quite probably who they say they are.

    The UK Labour version, by contrast, aimed to create one back-end database that was an accurate picture of who everyone in the country was, right down to (varyingly useless) forms of biometrics. It was an Orwellian nightmare as designed, and a fraudster's charter given the many ways it could have been abused with the cooperation of the Authorities. For instance, foreign passports were acceptable ID, so if faked properly these could be used to enrol a new citizen into the system, together with carefully forged fake biometrics.

    With a bit of luck and a complicit employer one high-paid worker could morph into several part-timers, each with their own separate tax records and separate tax allowances. No longer would failed politicians need to get their wives to take speeding points; an alternate identity could be set up to take the rap, and so on, ad nauseam.

    As the original poster put it, democracy usually ends up with correct solutions; the problem is that it gets there by visiting almost every wrong answer along the way.

  19. batfastad

    Ah mine does (I believe) but it's from 2005. Not one of these biomagic ones.

    1. A K Stiles

      Mine from c. 2004 doesn't - the only address(es) in it are the multiple layers of next of kin address stickers I've applied to the appropriate page as the bu**ers just wouldn't stay in one place for more than 3 years, let alone 10!

  20. A K Stiles
    Facepalm

    Driving licences

    These are the ones that bug me - I used to just have a piece of paper with a signature on it. Then I moved house and had to send them a verified photograph so they could send me back a credit card sized thing with my photo, signature and date of birth on it - which is easier to carry and is accepted almost everywhere as a form of id, except for driving, where I'm required to also produce the A4 piece of paper, which duplicates most of the information from the card, except the picture, and has a large space to show whether or not I've been a naughty boy. It is also easier to misplace or lose one or other part of the pair, costing me more money to replace them in order to remain a good little compliant citizen...

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Driving licences

      Agreed. For a number of reasons I've taken to renting cars more often lately, and it is a requirement for most rental companies that both bits of the licence are shown. Whilst remembering the silly bit of paper shouldn't make a difference (I keep it in the same place as my old paper driving licence which I'd still have but for house-moves), it does. Somehow, knowledge that I always have my driving licence in my wallet makes forgetting the other bit easier.

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    And lets not forget the audit trail to see whose been looking at your NIR ID file.

    I'm joking of course.

    The UK plans were to have no such trail (after all it generates a lot of file writes on a population of 66million and rising).

    OTOH Estonia (Charles Clarke was very keen on their system) does have.

    But then again Estonia has less than 5 million people and seems to have started with a more or less clean sheet in government IT systems when the former soviet union packed up.

    Like the Snoopers Charter. No need to ask, no need to know.

    Now f**k off.

  22. Kubla Cant Silver badge
    Big Brother

    The big difference is this

    All the identifying documents I have at the moment are things that enable me to prove who I am, that I can drive, that I have a line of credit, that I shop at Tesco, that anyone who messes with me is going to hear from Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State, etc. I have them because I think the loss of anonymity is worth the benefit (or in the case of Tesco, I don't because I don't).

    The ID card, on the other hand, was going to be something we were all required by law to own and to carry.

  23. Flywheel Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Google

    Google will do it. They'll do a deal with Osborne who'll write off their alleged tax debt in exchange for the ID card system to end all ID card systems. It won't even be a card - you'll have an iris scan next time you pop in to buy a banned substance (ciggies, booze, fizzy pop etc) and you won't even notice. Google will not only ID you, they'll even track you on behalf of the Government. Google will not only get off allegedly not paying tax, they'll also make gazillions selling your anonymised data to advertising partners.

  24. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Labour's mistake

    Don't get me wrong, I never supported ID cards and still don't, but...

    Labour's mistake was in not conning the country into embracing ID cards. They could have offered a two year deadline after which not having ID would be a criminal offence with a hefty fine. Given a £1K tax allowance incentive for everyone who signed up early, diminishing over two years, many in their greed would have rushed to get ID'd early. Critical mass, and missing out on getting 'free money', would have swept up most of the rest over time. They could have nudged the reluctant along by legislating that supermarkets must see ID to give cashback, must have ID to renew a driving licence, etc; making it near impossible to live without an ID card.

    Would you take your 30 pieces of silver or miss out and still probably end up with a card?

    It was only Labour's tight-fistedness and not understanding how to forcibly motivate people that saved the day. If they'd been willing to burn money to get an ID card carrying society they'd have achieved it. We dodged a bullet there.

  25. Paulusar
    Big Brother

    The problem with the Gestapo asking to see your papers is the Gestapo not the papers. Does anyone in their right mind believe that the British Government is going act like Nazis or that the British Police will act like the Gestapo?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      British Gestapo, etc.

      I would like to point out, that Herr Hitler was chosen in (allegedly) democratic elections and he did a some good work with his country and he was admired (if not adored) but his people, and by most, if not all, politicians abroad. So it all started very nicely indeed and yes, I will bring up this old cliche of the frog-boiling. We could argue about the final intentions of heating up, but then... we don't know the intentions of our Masters. Perhaps they don't know themselves, or believe them to be purely for the good of the people. I'm sure if you asked the leader of the III Reich, he would not lie by saying it is for the people too.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      I neither believe that they will or they won't on the large scale (people attending demonstrations will say that, on the small scale they already do). However, neither I nor you can predict anything about the future, and the risk is non-zero. What would it take for the same level of hysteria that shows every time a school-girl explodes a bottle of pop manifests here? How long before a certain group (people who worked in entertainment in the 1960/70s) is so reviled that they need to be "protected"? Can you say for certain that anyone with a certain characteristic (education beyond a certain level) isn't regarded as a "risk to society"?

      Consider making a forecast of how the Western world would be on 10th September 2001 - could you have predicted what we have without being classed as a loony?

  26. PJI
    WTF?

    Please

    I live, now, in a country with ID cards. These are not actually compulsory; but everyone has got one and it is according to an international standard. It means I can cross any borders, enter most countries (even non-EU ones) without fuss (getting into UK is quicker than using my UK passport!). I can do everything without ever having to produce copies of a recent gas bill (except when dealing with UK insurance companies). I have never, ever been asked to show it by a policeman. I am only ever asked under the same circumstances as UK people ask for identification. I have done certain jobs in two countries (including England) where I was required to carry, at all times, an identity card. I survived.

    Last year, I wanted to take an internal flight, in England, from Manchester. They demanded a form of identity with my photograph. A driving licence was not acceptable. I was given no notice. Fortunately I had my identity card. I asked what they would do if not, answer: then you can not fiy. I visited my English bank: I proved my identity with the magic photo. card. My children all used to carry passports when they went out as the only way of proving their ages to enter clubs, buy drink and so on. This was expensive. They wore out the standard passports in no time.

    You live in a country where they photograph you non-stop, where if a DNA sample is taken for any reason it is retained for years, where rather trivial, everyday transactions expect you to carry photographic proof of who you are. You live in a country that refused to join Schengen, while accepting more non-European immigrants than the rest put together, so you have to show passports even for a day trip to France. (I just walk across the border, never asked most of the time. If so, I've got this tiny card, if I remember to put it in my wallet). You do not trust politicians, whom you elect and can throw out; but you happily sign up to Google or Facebook and trust a commercial company, whose living is advertising, that is foreign owned and so beyond the law, not to misuse the information. You let credit companies keep the most outrageous details, true and false.

    Get over it: persuade the government to produce a functional card that does not try to carry your whole life on a chip and use it to reduce the daily bother and restore some of the freedom of movement that you once had.

    Do n't bleat about not trusting politicians. You elected them; you joined their parties or ignored their antics. Get off your bottoms and take part in democracy at every level. Tell commercial entities to take a running jump when they demand photocopies of a recent bank statement or bill (to me these are more personal than anything on my identity card). Stop complaining about illegal immigrants if you are not prepared for even the most basic means of identifying them (not that it really stops them).

    GB is one of the most watched, controlled, surveilled countries in the world. Get one, basic form of identity and fight the "informal", all pervasive stuff to show yuo have proved who you are.

    I do wonder, did you all refuse to get birth certificates for your children? Death certificates for the deceased? National Insurance numbers?

    As for cost: you are the electorate. You've got directly elected MPs and councillors. Sort it out.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Please

      "These are not actually compulsory; but..."

      And neither is my driving licence or passport, both of which I have. It was the compulsion that was the problem.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never been asked in public to produce, during the 14 years of owning a Belgian i.d card. It actually comes in handy when opening bank accounts for me or the kids, moving house etc. Much more efficient culture with one and it only cost 10 euros iirc

    This is so much different to what I'm told owning an i.d card in GB would be like, but then living in the UK without an i.d card was shit enough.

    I thought it was quite astute of cameron when he did his German accent to describe British coppers asking for i.d cards whilst walking the dog, because unlike on the mainland, you really wouldn't put it past them.

  28. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Let's take the argument to the extreme. How does one prove an identity without said identity being traceable? I suspect identity is INHERENTLY traceable, so there's no in-between available. Next question is: is being tracked worth the price? Let's take it to the extreme: what if privacy becomes an actual existential threat to some large area? How would you respond to this? Do you sacrifice your privacy to defeat it or let the threat come to pass and likely die as a result?

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