Sunday, June 26, 2005

(Yet) Another argument against ID Cards

From the Independent:
Ministers plan to sell your ID card details to raise cash

Personal details of all 44 million adults living in Britain could be sold to private companies as part of government attempts to arrest spiralling costs for the new national identity card scheme, set to get the go-ahead this week.

The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that ministers have opened talks with private firms to pass on personal details of UK citizens for an initial cost of £750 each.


The opening of commercial talks contradicts a promise made when the Home Office launched a public consultation on ID cards in April last year, when officials pledged that "unlike electoral registers, the National Identity Register will not be open for any general access or inspection."


In addition, firms could be charged up to £750 for technology that would allow them instantly to verify customers' identity through iris scanning or finger-printing, according to official documents.
Update: Ministers are denying that personal information will be for sale, but admit that they will establish and charge for a system giving private companies access to the ID card system. From the Telegraph:
Ministers denied a report that personal details of all 44 million adults in the country could be sold to private companies as part of Government efforts to curb the cost.

But the Home Office admitted that there would be a "mechanism" for companies to check that an ID card was genuine and that people were who they said they were.

Officials said the details of the mechanism were still being worked out. There would be a fee but it would be "nowhere near" the £750 claimed by The Independent on Sunday.

Tony McNulty, the immigration minister, said it was nonsense to suggest that the Government intended to sell information on the ID cards register and had opened talks with private companies.

"The Government has no plans whatsoever to sell individuals' details to private companies," he said. "The legislation we have introduced to set up the scheme will ensure that the ID cards database will be secure and confidential. Private companies will not have access to the information held on it and any unauthorised disclosure will be a criminal offence."

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