From November 20th 2007 to March 6th 2008, when the ID implementation plan as proposed here by me in 2005 is adopted
with subsequent notes added at the top of this file, latest at the top

 2005-2008 archives starting with my proposal for non-compulsory implementation are further down

JULY 30th 2009 - The design of the Identity Card, which will be voluntary in take-up for UK Citizens as suggested originally here, is now announced. See
There are still those who do not understand how it will do an essential job, but that is because they have never had a job in any of the services tasked with establishing the identity of the people they are dealing with. There are those who do not understand how, if the card is not compulsory and carried by all, it can do the job and save a massive amount of time and money - again, that is their problem. Alan Johnson, a man of experience and intelligence, describes it as a 'no brainer'. He is not wrong. Many people have thought it through.

APRIL 28th 2009

David Blunkett has suddenly changed his mind about ID cards, claiming that biometric passports can do the job and will be more easily accepted by people who are used to giving their details to the Passport Office. I think Blunkett is losing it. Any time a passport holder renews a visa (and many visas last for a very limited period), they have to surrender their passport for up to a week or sometimes more while the bureaucratic process proceeds. If the ID Card is to be useful and necessary in certain circumstances, it has to be quite different to a passport in its limitations and uses and the conditions in which it can be easily carried. However, those citizens who have a biometric passport and can carry it clearly may not need an ID Card unless it is required in connection with their work or other special circumstances.

NOV 6th 2008
The case that has hit the headlines today, with the loss of piles of personal data on a disk sent through the post from the Revenue to the National Audit Ofice, has been held up by George Osborne (Shadow Chancellor) as a reason to scrap the plan for ID cards. George Osborne has got to choose now, as have some of his colleagues, between presenting himself as as idiot or a man without principles.

Either he understands nothing of what has occurred or if he does, he is playing a game beyond all dreams of cynicism. It is the chaotic lack of any identity system, let alone one to suit the modern world, that has brought about these events. Our civil servants, police and security services are grappling in the dark, dealing with thousands of unverifyable individuals amongst the mass of the population. They are under such pressure that mistakes like this will occur. As for what dangers arise when data does get into the wrong hands, only a proper ID system can make the actual data useless without the authority of the individual to whom they refer.

This is what is behind the move towards a proper system, whereby the identity of anyone can be verified beyond doubt when it matters for them, not by any single one of the criteria they have established but by the cross-checking of many of these, instantly and easily. The reason why we are in such trouble is because we rely on confidentiality and secrecy, when we should be relying on proper security. Confidentiality is important but it has a different role.  ID cards do NOT involve the collection of a lot of financial or medical data. They are about establishing identity. It is that which protects an individual against the wrongful use of their personal facilities.

With a proper system, our bureaucrats would have a managable job. With such a system, if even so over time there was a theft of data it could not be used without more risk to the fraudulent user than to the rightful owner.

It is clear that some people who are unfamiliar with all this will see todays events as a reason to abandon the ID card project covered in this diary. There is no excuse for anyone on the opposition front bench to remain so ignorant. George Osborne must make up his mind. Is he to play the populist idiot, or are we accept that any lie can be told for cheap political advantage?

July 18 2008 BBC1 TV 21:00 – 22:00: On the Fiddle? Questions of Identity

Consumers/everyday life magazine

Documentary series following the work of benefit fraud investigators. This week a highly respectable middle-aged lady and her cousin are found guilty of falsely claiming nearly two million pounds in benefits, using 192 stolen identities. The Organised Fraud Team allows unique access to its investigations as it trails and catches the most elaborate fraudsters.

NOVEMBER 22nd 2007

It is now clear that David Cameron understands as little about this affair as he does about most security matters. ID Cards work on the PATENT principle, not on confidentiality or the reliance upon many individuals to never make mistakes or to be invincible against the thousand of criminal minds intent on committing fraud by keeping facts that have to be used all the time secret. The UK's identity security is considered a joke by the world's criminals. Our country is an open door to every kind of fraud imaginable, and we are the most confused people in Europe.

This morning a lunatic woman called Carol McGiffin was cheered by the moronic audience of the programme LOOSE WOMEN as she shouted and screamed that if we had ID cards we could be asked by any member of the public to produce one in the street. There will never be a time when anyone has to carry one routinely, let alone produce one. They will be required when and where proof of identity is required. That is security for the individual and the businesses and banks and institutions that serve them. They will be entitlement cards, not a license to exist. SCREW-LOOSE WOMEN would be a better title for this programme. McGiffin will now vote for Cameron or a liberal? 

The polls that show a Tory lead are understandable when we hear that millions of people have change their PIN numbers today, thinking this has some connection with what has happened to their data. I don't know how these people made it out of the womb. Doctors should stop helping them.

Meanwhile thank goodness the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has received a resounding vote of confidence and David Davies can take a running jump.

DECEMBER 25th 2007

This is a bit depressing. I don't always read the newspapers so had no idea that the Indy had published a letter of mine, which produced the following comment on November 26th from one Geraint Bevan:

Biometric datails not secure

Sir: James Baring suggests that it would not matter if data leaked from an ID database because the biometric information would be of no use to criminals (letter, 24 November). He might be less confident about security if he realised that biometric data can be spoofed.

Fingerprints – obtained from a database or from glasses in a pub – can be used to create gelatine moulds that are capable of fooling biometric scanners. Contact lenses can be coloured or patterned to match recorded images.

DNA is irrelevant to the ID debate: the Government is not proposing to use DNA verification because the process takes too long to be practical for routine transactions.

Furthermore, any biometric data used for identification will eventually be converted into a set of numbers for comparison against stored values. If hackers are able to capture these numbers and inject them into other systems, they are capable of impersonating anyone.

Biometrics are not a panacea for information security. Those who believe otherwise have been misled by the hype.

Geraint Bevan


With all due respect  to Geraint Bevan the points he makes about spoofing are obvious to anyone. DNA verification is not being used because for the moment it takes too long, as he says. In future this may not be the case. Any biometric data will indeed be converted into a set of alphanumerics, though analogue versions will in some cases be retained and associated with digital versions. The main analogue source is the individual in question. Voice recognition is also a promising area that can be added.  But there is no need to use any of this information in such a way that it can be spoofed without detection. Naturally it could be abused in this way, con-men abound and there are suffering victims born very minute we are told, but there is no need to be one of them, either as an individual or an institution.

Those who wish to establish and register their identity and secure it from theft should be able to use the following associated with their name and date/place of birth:
If they so wish, all this data (some essential) would be held on a central database and incorporated in an unalterable chip in passport and/or ID card.

Anyone trying to open a bank account in their name would have to present themselves personally either at the bank or an approved, manned centre acting on the bank's behalf, and produce the above data from their person. If, when they do this, they produce details that are not those associated with the person they claim to be (either immediately or within the safety delay set for verification), then I accept that if they have an associate who has hacked into the terminals and is armed with correct details, who is capable of erasing the entire input and substituting it with his captured version of the real data, then they could pose as someone they ain't. But in reality, these people will be setting themselves up for getting caught and convicted more surely than eggs are what we think they are, if not immediately then soon enough.

Anyone convicted of such fraud would have that information incorporated in the data on their ID card and passport. So any country, airline or institution would be quite free to accept their custom and presence (once released from jail, in the full knowledge that they were an identity thief and so might need a bit of watching. This data would remain on their card until the time set at the occasion of their conviction had passed. They would of course be free to live their lives without using an ID, but it would be a life with quite a bit of queuing and delay and examination and limitation if they wanted to avail themselves of privileges they previously took for granted.

The validity of ID cards depends on their proper conception and introduction and use. I can assure Mr Bevan that the situation that pertains at the present would be so radically changed for the better that it would deter fraudsters to such an extent they would not touch the system with a proverbial barge pole.

We really do have to lift the level of the debate. How could Mr Bevan believe for a moment that the points he makes have not been considered before the use of biometric data and its transmission were even a vague dream. There are problems he has not thought about, and solutions he has not thought about, and this will go on to the end of time. Once the system is set up, these new solutions can be applied on the fly incredibly easily. What is needed is proper management and implementation at the appropriate time. That time is about now, for kicking this off incrementally but with certain quantum stages. Sometimes getting this country moving is like walking waist-high through treacle.

JANUARY 14th 2008
Commentators are hinting that compulsory ID cards may be a long way off. DOH! If they didn't understand that from the very beginning it is scarcely surprising they are confused on the whole business. Indeed the possession of an ID card wil never be compulsory, though eventually an individual who needs to establish his or her identity without one my have to produce something substantial by way of authority. Identity establishment and protection on a modern system will start as a privilege for UK citizens but an enforcement for others arriving here and visiting. However there must also be a proper registration system at birth, as their is in many other countries, and all those born after a certain date will be expected to be fully registered in such a system.  The so-called 'Clampdown' below is just an minor indication of the results that will be achieved with a multidimensional cross-reference ID system using more than fingerprints.

Border control clampdown introduced

ITN - Monday, January 14 04:31 pm

All visitors to Britain requiring visas will have to be fingerprinted, the Home Office has confirmed.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said a programme for installing biometric visa controls has been completed three months ahead of schedule and already 500 cases of identity swapping have been spotted.

He added: "It is done. It is done three months early and it is done several million pounds under budget.

"We now check everybody's fingerprint wherever they apply for a visa around the world."

Under the new rules, anyone applying for a visa must submit to a digital finger scan and a full-face digital photograph.

Mr Byrne said the new system - the first of ten key changes to the UK's border controls to be implemented during this year - is already having an effect.

He said: "We have already found about 500 cases of people who have chosen not to give us their identity correctly and we have checked them against databases that we hold in the UK and found out that they have been lying to us. Obviously, that has allowed us to stop them coming anywhere near Britain."

JANUARY 22 2008
It would be a great mistake to think that the difficulties in getting the ID system off the ground are likely to lead to its abandonment any more than the difficulties of the Wright Brothers led to the abandonment of aviation. The critics who point out the problems are welcome. Those who think they will not be overcome are wrong. Those who think they are not necessary are pathetically deluded. As for the 'civil liberties' brigade who think an Identity System would breach these, they don't even know what civil liberties are.

Britons' ID cards 'to be delayed'
Plans for a wider rollout of identity cards to British nationals appear to have been delayed for two years.

Foreign nationals will have ID cards this year and it was intended to introduce them in "significant volumes" for UK citizens from 2010.

But documents leaked to the Tories suggest it has been put back to 2012.

The Tories say the ID card scheme is "in the intensive care ward" but the government said the plan had always been to introduce them "incrementally".

When he was prime minister, Tony Blair promised to legislate to make it compulsory for all Britons to have - but not to carry - an ID card.

Biometric cards

But the £5.6bn scheme has met fierce criticism from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on cost, effectiveness and civil liberties grounds.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said he would take part in a campaign of civil disobedience if legislation is passed.

Home Office documents leaked to the Conservatives set out an illustrated timeline for introducing biometric ID cards.

I think the reality is just beginning to bite ministers on this
Damian Green
Shadow immigration minister

It includes the "Borders Phase I" introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals, which will begin later this year.

Then it indicates that people in positions of trust - like security guards - will be issued with cards in 2009.

But the "Borders Phase II" wider rollout to all UK citizens will not begin until 2012, the document says.

'Reality intruding'

BBC political correspondent James Landale said the implication was the controversial issue had been "kicked well into the long grass", beyond the next general election.

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green told the BBC: "It's clear that there are enormous practical difficulties in putting 50 different pieces of personal information including addresses of 60 million British citizens plus lots of foreigners into a single database.

We have always said that the scheme will be rolled out incrementally
Identity and Passport Service spokesman

"I think the reality is just beginning to bite ministers on this, so this delay is the first sign of reality intruding, let's hope there are more to come."

But an Identity and Passport Service spokesman replied: "We do not comment on leaked documents."

He added: "We have always said that the scheme will be rolled out incrementally.

"As stated in the Strategic Plan for the National Identity Scheme published in December 2006, we will begin issuing ID cards for foreign nationals this year, and the first ID cards for British citizens in 2009."

He said they would make it easier for businesses and government to check identities "securely, conveniently and efficiently".

But he said the date for introducing cards with fingerprints "in line with international developments in passport security" was "under consideration" and further announcements would be made in due course.

There have been reports that Gordon Brown had cooled on the idea of compulsory ID cards for UK citizens, saying it was only an "option" that would be the subject of a Parliamentary vote.

Last week immigration minister Liam Byrne said the government remained enthusiastic about ID cards.


MARCH 6th 2008


Rethink on identity cards plans
The government has set out changes to its planned identity scheme - including allowing people to use passports or driving licences instead of ID cards.

Most people will not now have to give their fingerprints when getting a passport until 2011/12 - three years later than had previously been planned.

And plans to force passport applicants to get an ID card have been dropped.

The exception will be airport and other workers in security-sensitive jobs who will need an ID card from 2009.

2008 - Some non-EU nationals will have to get them
2009 - Compulsory for 200,000 UK citizens and EU nationals who work in 'sensitive' airport jobs
2010 - Voluntary scheme for students
2011/12 - Biometric passports issued, applicants can choose to get ID card
2017 - Full roll-out of identity cards

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said students would also be encouraged to get identity cards from 2010, as part of plans to let "consumer demand" drive take-up.

Ms Smith confirmed that some non-EU migrants applying for leave to enter or remain in the UK, such as students or spouses, will need ID cards from November.

The aim is that by 2015, 90% of foreign nationals will have identity cards, she added.

The announcement was branded a "complete U-turn" by Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne - but anti-ID card campaigners warned the government was trying to introduce the scheme by stealth.

The government had previously planned to take biometrics - including all 10 fingerprints and iris scans - of everyone applying for a new passport from 2008.

'Public acceptance'

The proposal had been that from January 2010 everyone getting, or renewing, a passport would have to get an identity card in addition to a passport.

And ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair had said that a major plank of Labour's next election manifesto would be a bill to make it compulsory for everyone, irrespective of whether they get a passport or not, to get an ID card.

To engage consumers' hearts and minds on the scale required, enrolment and any tokens should be provided free of charge
Sir James Crosby

But those timetables have slipped, the proposed biometric data cut back to just fingerprints and not mention made of any foreseeable plans to make identity cards compulsory.

"While there are big advantages to making ID cards as widespread as possible, we need to be clear there is public acceptance," Ms Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Ms Smith said that information on the national identity register would not be held on a single, central database for security reasons.

Pricing call

Ms Smith said she expected the "full roll-out" of ID cards would happen by 2017.

Private firms will be encouraged to set-up "biometric enrolment centres" where passport and ID card applicants will be fingerprinted.

In a speech in London, Ms "endorsed" the findings of Sir James Crosby - whose report on working with the private sector on ID cards recommended a more consumer-driven approach.

But the home office rejected one of Sir James' key recommendations - that ID cards should be free of charge.

The report says: "To engage consumers' hearts and minds on the scale required, enrolment and any tokens should be provided free of charge."

A home office spokesman said the government charged for other forms of ID such as driving licences and passports and it though the planned charge of £30 for an ID card was "fair".

'Dangerous core'

The government's plans for ID cards, linking personal data to a fingerprint, have been plagued by technical delays, budget overspend and political controversy.

The government claims identity cards will boost security, tackle identity fraud and prevent illegal immigration.

Critics oppose the cards on cost, effectiveness and civil liberty grounds.

Whether you volunteer or are coerced onto the ID database, there's no way back - you'll be monitored for life
Phil Booth
NO2ID campaign

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "The government may have removed the highly visible element but they have still left the dangerous core of this project.

"The National Identity Register, which will contain dozens of personal details of every adult in this country in one place, will be a severe threat to our security and a real target for criminals, hackers and terrorists.

"This is before you take the government's legendary inability to handle people's data securely into account."

Phil Booth, of campaign group NO2ID dismissed Ms Smith's latest announcement as a "marketing exercise" designed to introduce ID cards by stealth.

"Whether you volunteer or are coerced onto the ID database, there's no way back. You'll be monitored for life. That's why the government is targeting students and young people, to get them on before they realise what's happening," he said.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who introduced the initial identity card scheme, has previously said it would not work unless everyone had to have a card.

The UK's main aviation trade union, Unite, has also criticised the plans, which it said could discriminate against some of its members who already have to undergo "vigorous pre-employment checks".


from June 27th 2005 - October 6th 2007   (and earlier discussion from Oct 2003 appended further down)

June 27th 2005
We can now see clearly how the arguments for and against ID cards are going to shape up.
1. Arguments for and against 'on principle'
2. Arguments for and against on cost-effectiveness
3. Arguments based on technical viability

Naturally those who are against on principle will use arguments on cost-effectiveness and technical viability as soon as they start to lose the argument on principle. It is therefore important to clarify the cost-effectiveness/viability equation and its components, as it is herein that the argument should be conducted and won if we are not to risk a further example of democratic paralysis through media enhanced misinformation.

Views on the content of of ID cards by the 'Information Commissioner', while relevant to the minimum information content of the integrated system, are not of overriding relevance to the adoption or not of cards required for (for example) international travel. Yesterday's objections by the Commissioner that the current proposals are an intrusion into privacy have, therefore, no place in this argument. The Commissioner has to do his/her job as laid down and it is important that it is done. It will no doubt affect decisions taken by parliament on details of implementation over the years. The same applies to the views of the Unison Trade Union, which will be taken into account as appropriate under the law and our parliamentary system.

A very important point to understand is this: at the moment the UK has no identity system at all. A UK birth certificate is not evidence of any identity, It is evidence of a birth to a parent. The parent(s) give(s) their name(s) and may give a first name to a child.  Nobody can prove they are, or are not, that person without elaborate tests and sworn witness statements (if indeed there are witnesses still alive). There is no 'Family Documentation' as their is in other European countries. So not only do we require a modernised passport for travel, we require an internal identity system for our own security.
The cost has to be considered from two viewpoints:
1. The actual cost to the nation of establishing an identity system, including the capability of issuing an ID card to applicants
2. The minimum charge to be made to individuals applying for a card.

The benefit has to be considered from two equivalent viewpoints
1. The benefit to the nation
2. The benefit to an individual applying for a card.

The benefit to the nation is difficult to quantify but a conservative estimate could be as follows
A computerised system that established the identity of 99% of individuals with 100% certainty, and 90% of the remainder with sufficient accuracy to enable further 'manual' verification to give 100% certainty, leaving the remainder to be the subject of special provisions (no great problem, as their cards would specify this), would bring a benefit to the nation of probably an initial minimum of £10 billion a year in administrative savings throughout all departments of the state. The cost could therefore reach £1,000 per person without it being excessive. With the passing of time the costs would diminish and the benefits (weighed against the circumstances pertaining in the absence of an ID system) would increase. We do not need 100% success. We need to start a system that has a future

The benefit to the individual has to take into account that not every individual requires a passport, as there is no need to travel abroad. The system must therefore include the right to a basic level ID that is established at birth, integrated with the parent acting as guardian, and thoe requiring individual ID should not have to pay more than £100 at today's value.

If the cost to the nation actually turns out to be so low that it is  paid for by those applying for ID cards, then this would almost too good to be true, but maybe if the first attempt is modest, and taken slowly, it could be the case. It appears that some simpletons at the LSE have got the two things confused, but that is neither here nor there.

The technical viability arguments:
An ID card can have several levels of verification. Some of these can be through a card-reader connected to a network. At its simplest this can, at an international border, verify when the card was last presented to enter or exit that country. But the means of deterring the faudulent use of ID cards could be very sophisticated. Furthemore the verification of a card as legitimate in format at a fundamental level can be done without a connection to a network, Imperfections in certain identification techniques such as iris scans are not an issue at this stage. The science will improve annually. In the end, the technical viability will depend not on the science but on the action taken, when establishing the system, to put particular tasks and powers in the hands of appropriate people at each level. If we fail at this, then it will be a mess at times. But a even mess can be tidied up and a system that works most of the time will release a large number of trained staff to deal with the cockups. The status quo is the only system that is unacceptable.

NOVEMBER 16th 2005
Stella Rimmington states today she thinks ID Cards will not make us more safe. How little she must know of the problems our people on the ground face in every branch of national administration. We need an identity system. We don't have even the rudiments of a usable one at the moment. To run the country in the 21st century without such a system is impossible. When we have established that, and it will take some time to build, most people would like a card to facilitate proving their identity. The quibble that some people will from time to time find ways of confusing those using the system carelessly or with limited verification level, is trivial. The incontrovertible fact is that such a system, if run adequately, will release so much time and personnel from the workload they are now buried with that our safety will be hugely improved and identity theft greatly reduced. The argument that government IT projects have been notorious failures and over-budget is not a valid argument against an ID system or cards. I am afraid Ms Rimmingtom has spent too long at the top of too narrow a pyramid to realise what goes on at ground level. As for the forging of cards, two things make that difficult. Firstly the technology has moved on (not that Rimmington would have understood any of it anyway), relating its contents to individuals in ways that are not collectively forgable. Secondly the cards will related to a database system which can be interrogated over a data network.  A very significant increase in efficiency and accuracy can therefore be achieved and when, due to circumstances, the highest level of authentication can not be achieved in a situation where it is clearly required, a combination of old fashioned methods and new can be applied. Maybe Ms Rimmington means that the money spent on the system, if spent on beefing up conventional security, would be more effective. In the short term this is obviously true, but would lead to an impossible state of affairs in the medium and long term.

JANUARY 23 2006
Arguments about the cost of identity cards have now taken the place, in parliament, of arguments about their viability and necessity. This is in my view a bogus approach to the problem as it is the average annual cost of the scheme over the next 50 years which is what has to be afforded, and this is an estimate that will be based on the experience of specialists in a number of disciplines which will be arrived at over a period of time. There are certain costs to be associated with the establishment of a national identity system, even if we do not have cards. This system will have to ensure that citizens of the UK have a single identity, with a means of associating it physically to their person. This will have to be done regardless of the existence of cards, regardless of the compulsory issuing of cards and regardless of the compulsory carriage of cards, if we are to expect any government department to deliver the services we require of it. The unit cost of cards will therefore depend only marginally on the number of individuals who are actually issued with them. It is however obvious that most people will find a card of very great convenience and a much greater protection than is now available from a number of dangers. The civil liberties arguments against an identity system are based on a profound ignorance of how civil liberties have been won and how they can be maintained. Those who believe that an army of expert fraudsters are just waiting for us to create a honeypot for them to plunder with forged identities do not appreciate the extent to which a modern system can stay ahead of the attack. The card is only one part of a three part entity. Of course there will be attempts, but there will be ever better means of countering and deterring the fraudsters and catching any who succeed. Compared to what will happen if a proper system, which can be enhanced cheaply and endlessly as required, is not put in place, it will be perfection on stilts. The savings will exceed the costs, that is the bet that has to be made. It's a no-brainer.

JANUARY 29 2006
I always though Lord Carlile to be an intelligent man but his latest thoughts are that he cannot imagine that a compulsory ID card would have helped in any of the terrorist attacks so far. He seems to have joined the ranks of those who think terrorists are going to be stopped by asking for their ID cards. Oh dear. It seems there is a long way to go to explain anything to British politicians. They really do live in their own world. Meanwhile they expect the police and MI5 to get a handle on Identity theft, people-smuggling, and organised crime in general without even a voluntary one or any identity system behind it.

However, I am glad he is in favour of a voluntary one to begin with. That, contrary to what some have said, would make a considerable difference to their work. It would also save time trying to find out how the Noble Lord spells his name. You will find it spelled by those referring to him as Carlyle, Carlisle or Carlile. I have opted for the last here, but only because the Press Association has chosen that. It makes it much easier to find what people are doing if you can spell their name and also all their aliases,

ID cards 'will not stop terrorism'

The Press Association Sunday January 29, 01:54 PM

Compulsory ID cards would have only "limited value" in the fight against terrorism, the Government's reviewer of anti-terror laws has admitted as he signalled a U-turn in his support for the controversial measure.

Liberal Democrat Lord Carlile of Berriew told GMTV's Sunday Programme he had changed his stance on the issue, having previously backed the plans.

"ID cards could be of some value in the fight against terrorism but they are probably of quite limited value," he said.

"I cannot think of a terrorist incident in which ID cards could have brought the incident to an earlier end.

"I don't think they will get through a compulsory ID card."

But he added a voluntary scheme might be accepted by the public.

Days after peers debated the controversial Terror Bill, Lord Carlile also said he thought the legislation had been "rushed".

"I don't think there was a need to rush through the current terror legislation. I would have preferred it to go to a scrutiny committee. I think it's led to certain issues being muddled by political debate rather than analysis."

Earlier this week former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens urged Conservative leader David Cameron to drop his opposition to the scheme.

"I think that, not only is it going to be of absolutely great use in terms of dealing with organised crime, terrorism, identity problems and identity theft - which is a major problem in this country at the moment - but I think it will give a certain amount of certainty and take away some of the rubbing points when police officers stop people in the street and the like," Lord Stevens said in an interview for GMTV

FEB 10th 2006
The government has decided that the introduction will be on a voluntary basis. I think this is wise, as I said in 2003 below. It will require new legislation if compulsory registration is introduced.

FEB 13th
A comfortable majority of 30+ has passed the ID bill in the Commons and 50+ for biometric passports. And while he was about it, Gordon Brown issued a few home truths about security and about the purpose of the operations in Iraq. A good sign he was talking sense was the reaction of Bob Marshall Andrews.

Government plans to make all passport applicants also have an ID card have been defeated in the Lords.

Peers voted by a majority of 61 to overturn the proposal - backed by MPs last month - for a second time.

Opposition peers say the plans break the government's promise that ID cards will initially be voluntary.

But ministers say there are no proposals to extend the scheme to holders of other documents. The ID Cards Bill will return to the Commons.

Their Lordships seem to be very paranoid about he abuse of any ID system.

MARCH 29th 2006
As expected, after wasting a fair amount of time the Lords have agreed to a compromise which is quite good. All those applying for a passport before 2010 will go into the ID register from 2008 but need not have an ID card if they do not want to till 2010. Nobody has to carry one anyway unless they wish to go somewhere where they are demanded, or need quickly and easily to assist in establishing their identity. That's compatible with what I suggested in 2004.  I class that as a voluntary system.

According to Lord Armstrong:
"The amendment preserves the integrity of the National Identity Register by ensuring that everyone who applies for, or renews a passport or other designated document has their biometric information and other identity details placed on the register. However, it also goes towards meeting the concerns of those who have argued that the card itself should not be compulsory at this stage by allowing those who apply for or renew their passport before 1 January 2010 to 'opt out' of being issued the ID card itself, even though their identity details will be entered on to the register."

There are those who still think a proper identity system is an attack on civil liberties. It is quite the reverse
. One of the reasons we were free in the past and needed to carry no proof was because there was little doubt about anyone's identity. The more people establish and retain their identity the greater the freedom they can be allowed by default unless they insist on abusing it. The establishment centuries ago of a logical system of nomenclature in Christian Europe was the main reason for this, along with the assiduous keeping of records in the UK which can be seen by anyone tracing their family history. Our local bureaucracy  was formidable, and when people moved from one parish to another this was recorded. Now, we are dealing with people who can travel to and from anywhere, with names that have no history that can be proven.

Family relationships can be identified by DNA, it is true, but without identity being properly recorded and some biometric criteria logged that remains with that individual, the whole system is set for collapse in the UK with identity theft and multiple aliases and untraceable criminals who, however few, take huge resources to pin down. In most other European countries, they have not allowed this to get out of hand. We have the chance now to use our backward state to catch up spectacularly and reduce the complex legislation that now bedevils every activity. Most bureaucracy is basically set up to prevent dishonest people from pulling a fast one and buggering off. With a proper ID system bureaucracy can be greatly reduced and freedom enhanced.

Finally, we now know that by having as the only sanction against poor behaviour the removal of freedom by imprisonment, we are creating a criminal class amongst the younger generation. What is needed is just the ability to remove and restore privileges of those outside prison, so as to incentivise progress toward responsibility and self control. This can only be done when people can be identified. Those who are temporarily barred from attending a given 
function, for example, can be more easily so controlled by positive or negative methods if their identity and those of others can be proven. We have to stop the ever increasing use of prison. ID cards and biometric passports is the way to do it. Those who really champion human rights and civil liberties know this perfectly well.


ID card scheme cost put at £5.4bn
Sample UK identity card
The ID card scheme will be introduced 'rapidly'
The UK's national ID scheme will cost £5.4bn to set up and run over the next 10 years, the Home Office says.

It is the first time the government has set out the estimated total expense for the controversial project.

Ministers claim ID cards will help in the fight against illegal immigration and terrorism.

But the Tories, who want the scheme scrapped, say the true cost is likely to be £20bn and the cash would be better spent on building more prisons.

'Will do nothing'

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "The Home Office has an absolutely appalling record for delivering IT-based projects on time and on budget.

  "ID cards will give us a powerful tool to combat identity fraud which underpins organised crime, terrorism and abuse of the immigration system"
Liam Byrne, home office minister

He said ID cards would "do nothing" to improve security and "may make it worse".

"What the government should be doing is answering our calls to establish a UK border police, putting more police on the streets and appointing a dedicated minister to co-ordinate our security efforts," added Mr Davis.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said the public had "every right to maintain a healthy scepticism about this figure".

The ID card scheme will force every adult in the UK to pay for a "biometric" card which stores fingerprint and iris scan details.

  "First ministers claimed ID cards were needed to combat benefit fraud, then to guard us against terrorism, then to fight identity fraud - having lost these arguments they now they claim they will be used to combat illegal immigration "
Damian Green, shadow immigration minister

Leaked e-mails earlier this year suggested civil servants had serious doubts about whether the scheme could be implemented.

Two weeks ago it emerged that the government would attempt to save cash by using existing government databases to introduce the ID scheme.

Ministers are wary of opting for a single "big bang" solution, favouring instead a series of smaller IT contracts.

But Home Office minister Liam Byrne insisted ID cards would still be introduced "rapidly", with the first biometric cards coming into use in 2008, for foreign nationals wanting to work in the UK.

'Powerful tool'

Speaking at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), he said ID cards would make illegal working by immigrants "far more difficult".

Mr Byrne added: "Any employer would be able to check a person's unique reference number against registered information about their identity to find out whether someone is eligible to work in the UK.

"ID cards will give us a powerful tool to combat identity fraud which underpins organised crime, terrorism and abuse of the immigration system.

"ID cards will also help transform the delivery of public services to the citizen, making interactions swifter, more reliable and more secure and helping to reduce costs by eliminating wasteful duplication of effort."

However, Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "First ministers claimed ID cards were needed to combat benefit fraud, then to guard us against terrorism, then to fight identity fraud.

"Having lost these arguments they now they claim they will be used to combat illegal immigration."

NOVEMBER 17th 2006
There is a fuss being made over the revelation that the data in the microchips embedded in the new biometric passports can be read by fraudsters.,,1950329,00.html?gusrc=rss&feed=19
But as explained in the article this is no big deal. In these passports (of which 3 million have been issued so far) it is qute true that a key to the encryption is published in the passport and the standards are published by ICAO. But that does not enable any fraudster to remotely get the data from a passport not in their hands, and even if they did get it from a given passport, the whole point of this identity system is that it has three parts:

1,The passport (where the chip is associated in a very special way with the hard copy page)
2. The data held on the Passport Authority database which matches
3. The individual concerned.

Extracting the biometric data and cloning a chip would not be anywhere near enabling the producton of a false passport.

It would not match the individual fradulently using it.
The chips in the current passports only contain data which can be seen by eye in the passport anyway.
ID Cards when they come will not use the same system of encryption
It would be folly for the Home Office or the equivalent in other countries to 'play all their cards at once'.

No system is uncrackable. What is needed is a system that is very hard to crack and liable to lead to the subsequent detection of people attempting it. As things stand, the world is filling up with people whose identities are being stolen permanently and irretrievably with tragic results. It is up to us in the UK and the EU to make sure that our citizens cannot have their identity stolen.

Anyone who still thinks we do not need a proper identity system should read this article in The Independent of May 15th 2006

Revealed: The cash-for-fake-ID scandal at the heart of the Government

Civil servants have sold the personal details of hundreds of thousands of people to criminal gangs

JULY 4th 2006 - BBC NEWS [extract]

Amnesty idea?

Mr Blair refused to estimate the number of illegal immigrants in the UK - something a study referred to by the government last year estimated could be up to 570,000.

He was asked about the consequences of deporting hundreds of thousands of people from London and the South East, where they were working in a range of jobs.

He replied: "What's the consequence of saying that even if someone is an illegal migrant, you are going to allow them to stay?

"The consequence is you are going to get a lot more."

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne recently said he had not ruled out the idea of an amnesty for illegal migrants - but Mr Blair's comments suggest he opposes the idea.

Explaining the problems in tracing and deporting people who overstayed their visas, Mr Blair said: "Until there is a proper system of identifying people, it's going to be very, very difficult to do." [end of news extract]

The truth is an amnesty of a limited, selective sort, is probably  going to be  required at a future date, the sooner the better. In the meantime we must plan the incremental introduction of an identity system, which can obviously involve ID cards whether or not their carriage is normally required in any particular environment.

Heathrow begins biometric trials
Passengers at Heathrow airport are being invited to sign up for a trial of the most advanced passenger screening equipment in the world.

Travellers will be able to bypass long queues if they have their fingerprints biometrically scanned, while face and eye scans will be introduced soon.

Those trying the miSense system have the scans at the same time as their passport is scanned at check-in.

Privacy campaigners said the scheme had "extremely limited value".

But advocates say it will make travelling easier, while maintaining security.

Some Cathay Pacific and Emirates flights will invite passengers to join the trial when they check in.

Passengers' details are linked to their passport, so they can be fast-tracked past queues through security and boarding controls.

'More secure'

BAA said the system provided passengers with a type of "electronic key" which would allow them to pass easily through each stage of the airport's processes.

Steve Challis, head of product development for BAA, said: "Rather than having to continually show pieces of paper to prove who you are, or to prove entry to the next stage of a journey, then your electronic key should make things much faster and much more secure at the same time."

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, launching the measures at Heathrow's Terminal 3, said the new system was crucial for security.

"Biometric ID systems are fundamental to securing our borders in a more mobile age," Mr Byrne said.

"They are crucial to our plans for counting everyone in and out of the country."

Mr Byrne went on to argue that the system is "a good example of how ID cards will be useful when helping people move through security".

All European nationals flying out of Heathrow's Terminal 3 will also be able to join the programme in its second phase.

Similar technology

In order to take part, they must hold a passport valid for at least six months, be over the age of 18 and fulfil UK government background checks.

A total of 13 different identifying scans of their fingerprints, irises and face will permit them to carry a membership card and allow them to use the system whenever they fly.

BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds says similar biometric technology has already been installed in Dubai and Hong Kong.

It is hoped that, if successful, the system will be adopted at airports around the world.

It would enable passengers to pass through immigration controls by simply swiping their fingertips.

Simon Davies, of privacy watchdog, Privacy International, said: "The Home Office still hasn't got the message from international research that biometrics are extremely unstable and unreliable.

"At this early stage of biometric understanding this programme can have only extremely limited value."

DECEMBER 16th 2006      

In my view, there is confusion here between two sets of interested parties. Identity thieves for working for fraudulent gain and impersonators using the passport of another when trying to pass an immigration or identity checkpoint.

The new passports are extremely difficult to clone. The fact that the data on them including the photo can be copied from the chip is neither here nor there. That a digital copy of a photo is identical is irrelevant, there are digital photos of individuals all over the internet anyway. Anyone wanting to can take a photo of an individual these days without them even knowing. The passports are secure because (1) They are unbelievably difficult to produce, physically, to pass examination and (2) supposing the clone was perfect, it would not match anyone but the individual to whom it belongs. The data on a passport is not private. A fake passport using the data applying to an existing person can be produced with the old passport format very easily. The security of the new passport lies in the fact that when read by a machine it can be checked instantly over a network with a number of other factors, including its last place of presentation and any reported loss, and against a scan of the individual presenting it. This scan can include a number of options impossible to fake.

Those who think someone stealing their identity will do it easier with a beautifully cloned version of the new passport are wrong. They will find it very much harder and it will almost certainly lead to the instant exposure of the forger. Those wishing to buy or sell new fake passports will find it costs so much it is not worth it and any plant built to produce them would betray its own existence.

The news article below therefore misses the point. The objectors are obsessed with their own compartmentalised view of the world. Yes, some fools and crooks will no doubt waste their time trying to produce perfect copies of new passports. It will cost them a lot and get them caught quicker.

ePassports 'at risk' from cloning
By David Reid
Reporter, BBC Click

The ePassport is one of the many measures pursued by the United States and governments internationally after the horror of 11 September.

It will, we are promised, keep the unwanted and dangerous outside our borders, while streamlining entry for those welcome to come and visit.

But as the implementation of the scheme gets underway it is becoming clear that there could be serious problems with it.

With the old passport, we knew where we stood. If you lost it you knew you had lost it, but with the new, machine readable passports the story is very different.

When you take a digital photo the image is, in effect, a code, which means that however many prints you make they are all exactly the same.

Five-minute replica

So when Lukas Grunwald and Christian Bottger realised they could clone the new ePassport they were pretty sure it would be identical to the original, and undetectable. So how did they do it?

The chip inside the ePassport is a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip of the type poised to replace the barcode in supermarkets.

The good thing about RFID chips is that they emit radio signals that can be read at a short distance by an electronic reader.

But this is also the bad thing about them because, as Lukas demonstrated to me, he can easily download the data from his passport using an RFID reader he got for 200 Euros on eBay.

Lukas is less forthcoming about where he got what is called the Golden Reader Tool, it is the software used by border police and it allows him to read the chip on his ePassport, including the photo.

Now for the clever bit. Thanks to a software he himself has developed, called RFdump, he downloads the passport's data onto his computer and then onto a blank chip.

Using a standard off-the-shelf component you can just buy at a component store you can have a cloned ePassport in less than five minutes.

Security risks

When the cloned ePassport is read and compared to the original one it behaves exactly the same.

The UK Home Office however dismissed the ability to get hold of the information on the chip.

A spokesman said: "It is hard to see why anyone would want to access the information on the chip.

"Other than the photograph, which could be obtained easily by other means, they would gain no information that they did not already have - so the whole exercise would be pointless: the only information stored on the ePassport chip is the basic information you can see on the personal details page."

The spokesman said the chip was one part of the security features of the ePassport.

He said: "Being able to copy this does not mean that the passport can be forged or imitated for illegal or unauthorised use.

"British ePassports are designed in such a way as to make chip substitution virtually impossible and the security features of the passport render the forgery of the complete document impractical."

According to Lukas Grunwald of the consulting company DN-Systems an ePassport holder is more at risk from someone trying to steal their data.

"Nearly every country issuing this passport has a few security experts who are yelling at the top of their lungs and trying to shout out: 'This is not secure. This is not a good idea to use this technology'".

DN-Systems' Christian Böttger also believes the system was set up in a hurry.

"It is much too complicated. It is in places done the wrong way round - reading data first, parsing data, interpreting data, then verifying whether it is right.

"There are lots of technical flaws in it and there are things that have just been forgotten, so it is basically not doing what it is supposed to do. It is supposed to get a higher security level. It is not," he said.


A European Union funded network of IT security experts has also come out against the ePassport scheme.

  "It is almost like writing your pin number on the back of your cashpoint card."

Researchers working within the Future of Identity in the Information Society (FIDIS) network say European governments have forced a document on its citizens that dramatically decreases security and increases the risk of identity theft.

RFID chips can be read at a short distance and tracked without their owner's knowledge, while the key to unlocking the passport's chip consists of details actually printed on the passport itself.

It is almost like writing your pin number on the back of your cashpoint card.

"The basic access control mechanism works based on information like the number of the passport, the name of the passport holder, the date of birth and then other data which are simply readable by anyone who looks on the passport," said Professor Kai Rannenberg of Frankfurt University.

"If you have that information and put the respective software into the reader, the reader can overcome the basic access control of the passport."

The experts say it is not too late to roll back and rethink the ePassport.

If not, the danger is obvious - that a scheme, the declared aim of which is to increase our security, could well do the exact opposite.

                                                THE TORIES JUST BURY THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND AS THEY SO OFTEN DO WHEN NOT MAKING
                                                 A COCKUP OF THEIR OWN.

Giant ID computer plan scrapped
The government has abandoned plans for a giant new computer system to run the national identity cards scheme.

Instead of a single multi-billion pound system, information will be held on three existing, separate databases.

Home Secretary John Reid said it would save cash, but the Tories said ID cards were still a £20bn "white elephant".

All non-Europeans already in the UK will also have to register fingerprints or iris scans from 2008 not just new arrivals, Mr Reid announced.

The controversial National Identity Register (NIR), which Mr Reid says will cost £5.4bn over 10 years, was originally proposed as a single "clean" computer system.

It was going to be built from scratch to avoid repeating mistakes and duplications in the government's computer systems.

'Lower risk'

Now the information will be spread across three existing IT systems, including the Department of Work and Pensions' (DWP) Customer Information Service, which holds national insurance records.

Mr Reid denied IT companies had wasted millions on preparation work for an entirely new system, saying the industry had been consulted on the move.

The government has reportedly spent about £35m on IT consultants since the ID cards project began in 2004.

"Doing something sensible is not necessarily a U-turn," Mr Reid told reporters.

"We have decided it is lower risk, more efficient and faster to take the infrastructure that already exists, although the data will be drawn from other sources."

Iris scans

Biometric information will be stored, initially, on systems currently used for asylum seekers, while biographical information will be stored on the DWP's system.

Other information, on the issue and use of ID cards, will be stored on the existing Identity and Passport Service computer system.

Mr Reid also announced proposals to force foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), who are already in the UK, to register their biometrics, such as fingerprints and iris scans.

This is already due to happen for those applying for visas to come to the UK from 2008, but Mr Reid said: "We are going to look at how we could do it for people who are already here."

Fake identity

He said the ultimate aim was to make all foreign nationals from outside the EU to register their biometric details but the scheme would begin with people re-applying to stay in the UK.

He said he also wanted to tighten up exit controls at ports and airports, as well as entry requirements.

"We want to count everybody in and count everybody out," said Mr Reid.

Foreigners from outside the EEA would not be able to get a National Insurance number unless they have a biometric identity.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said new legislation would be published in the New Year.

Mr Reid said ID cards would help tackle illegal immigration, identity fraud, fight organised crime and terrorism, help protect vulnerable children by allowing better background checks and improve public services.

They would not stop people having a fake identity, he conceded, but would prevent people having multiple identities, which he said were most often used by "crooks, terrorists and fraudsters".

Civil liberties

The plans were laid out in an action plan which Mr Reid said was a "countdown" to the introduction of ID cards.

ID cards are due from 2009, becoming compulsory for anyone applying for a passport from 2010. Critics question their cost and the impact on civil liberties.

The card will contain basic identification information including the name, address, gender, date of birth and photo of the cardholder.

A microchip would also hold biometric information.

'Financial disaster'

Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, for the Conservatives, said it was "beyond belief" that Mr Reid still planned to "waste up to £20bn of taxpayers' money on this expensive white elephant".

And the decision to use existing databases was "an admission of what will turn out to be a financial disaster for the taxpayer".

He said Mr Reid "has tried to sneak this announcement out in a written statement that is not subject to scrutiny betrays just how fragile the government's confidence in their own scheme actually is".

'Sticking plaster'

The government should instead use the money to set up a dedicated UK border police, said Mr Davis.

Nick Clegg, for the Liberal Democrats, said: "These are sticking plaster measures in which the government is cutting corners to make the increasingly unpopular ID card scheme more palatable.

"The fact remains that however much John Reid rearranges the deckchairs, ID cards are doomed to be unacceptably expensive, intrusive and unmanageable."

The SNP called the move an "embarrassing u-turn" which proved the Home Office was "not fit for purpose".

Campaign group No2ID said "mixing up" new data with existing data meant the system would be "even less secure than originally suggested".

The idea that this could then be integrated with banks' chip and pin system, as the Home Office has proposed, was "farcical" in practical terms, a spokesman added.

                                              COST OF THE DATABASE - THE HOURS OF WORK SAVED WILL ADD UP TO BILLIONS MUCH
                                              FASTER THAN THE EXPENSE OF THE SYSTEM. THE PERSONNEL FREED WILL BE ABLE TO
                                              FILES CAN DO. THAT IS WHERE THE ORDER WILL START TO REPLACE THE CHAOS.

Foreigners living in Britain face compulsory biometric ID cards

· Photo and fingerprint scheme for 700,000
· Visitors to be screened before flying to UK

Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Wednesday December 20, 2006
The Guardian

Compulsory powers to fingerprint and photograph 700,000 foreigners a year who live in Britain as part of the national identity card scheme were announced yesterday by the home secretary, John Reid, as the scope of what critics see as a future Big Brother state became clearer.

At the same time, 150 screening centres around the world are to be set up in 18 months so that biometric data - electronic fingerprints and photos - can be taken and stored from passengers coming to Britain from 169 countries outside Europe.

But Mr Reid had to confirm that the Home Office's original plans for one huge new "clean" database to store the details of everyone resident in Britain have had to be scaled back on the grounds of expense as the government tries to cut the estimated £5.4bn cost of introducing ID cards. The controversial national identity register, which will store everyone's biometric fingerprints and photographs as well as personal biographical details, will now be housed on three separate existing government computer systems.

Mr Reid denied yesterday that this was a U-turn, although the computer industry has widely seen the decision as a significant change of tack: "Doing something sensible is not necessarily a U-turn," said Mr Reid. "We have decided it is lower-risk, more efficient and faster to take the infrastructure that already exists, although the data will be drawn from other sources."

An "action plan" produced by the Home Office yesterday said that existing Department for Work and Pensions technology used for national insurance records would store biographical parts of a person's national identity register entry. Home Office systems used to hold data on asylum seekers will be expanded to hold the biometric photographs and fingerprints.

Private companies will be invited to bid for contracts to develop these databases in the next six months.

The Home Office claimed that the split between different databases would guard against malicious or fraudulent damage. Mr Reid said that it would also reduce the overall £5.4bn cost of the ID project but declined to give a new estimate, saying it would be reported to parliament next April.

He also confirmed that the current price excludes issuing the compulsory resident permits to foreign nationals living in Britain. Increased fees and charges for renewing their visas are expected to cover the extra cost. While ID cards are unlikely to be compulsory for British residents before 2011, foreign nationals will have to give their fingerprints for a compulsory foreigners' ID card from 2008.

Biometric checks on non-European travellers to Britain from 2008 would in volve a "triple check" before they stepped on to the plane, said the immigration minister, Liam Byrne.

Everyone from the 169 countries outside the European Economic Area who intends to work, study or stay in Britain for more than six months will be expected from 2008 to provide their fingerprints and photograph before they travel.

The biometric details of visitors from 108 countries of the 169 that have a visa agreement with Britain will also have to be provided, even if they are coming to the UK just for one day. Already 450,000 people have been refused entry to Britain last year for failing this pre-departure test.

Mr Reid said this extension abroad of the national identity scheme would mean that "people we are concerned about will be stopped from coming here before they travel" and it would make illegal working in Britain much more difficult. But critics claim that Mr Reid is building a "database state" in which ministers are trying to use computers to manage people by watching them. The director of human rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said: "Nothing short of repeal of this act will do."

The timetable

2007 Biometric visas issued at 150 posts abroad; new passport readers at key airports; tenders invited for first phase of ID databases.

2008 Fingerprints and photos taken of all foreign nationals applying for visas: compulsory biometric ID cards for foreign nationals living, working or studying in the UK.

2009 Fingerprinting for ID cards starts and first Icards issued to British citizens; electronic background checks on 120m passengers (60%) before they travel to Britain; UK employers start online identity checks of foreign staff.

2010 Electronic background checks on 190 million travellers (95%) coming to Britain.

2011? Parliament votes on making ID cards compulsory for all British residents plus all foreign nationals living in Britain.

PM's response to ID cards petition

19 February 2007

Tony Blair has written an emailed reply to more than 27,000 people who signed a petition against the introduction of identity cards.

The petition on the Downing Street website stated:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards. The introduction of ID cards will not prevent terrorism or crime, as is claimed. It will be yet another indirect tax on all law-abiding citizens of the UK."

Read the detailed response:

MARCH 15 2007
Those who think a proper ID system is unnecessary should realise the world has moved on from the days when a few people, who all knew each other, met in smoke-filled rooms to ponder the political and military possibilities. We have, thankfully, an increasingly open society. We should give it the equipment it needs.

Impostor sits in on Australian defence meetings

  Thursday March 15, 05:53 AM

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A lorry driver who was once jailed for armed robbery posed as an army officer, mixed with the top brass and talked his way into high-level security meetings, an Australian court has been told.

Peter Bennett, 54, started his 10-month fantasy military career in September 2005 when he wore formal military dress to gain entry to an air force base dinner, where he chatted to Australia's air force chief, Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey Shepherd.

Melbourne's Age newspaper said: over the following months, Bennett joined meetings of Operation Acolyte, the defence force's security operation for last year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and was issued with a defence force identity card.

"To his boot straps, he was simply a cheeky civilian with a good tailor and a foot locker brimming with confidence that enabled him to parachute behind friendly lines," the Age said on Thursday.

A court official told Reuters Bennett had pleaded guilty in a local magistrate's court to impersonating a public official and making a false declaration.

He will re-appear in court on May 16 when the magistrate will be presented with a psychological assessment, the official said.

Bennett had tried to join the army in 1971, but was rejected as medically unfit to serve.

MARCH 20th 2007
Until we move to the new system as proposed by the government and now opposed by both Liberals and Tories, this will continue. The comments below by the opposition are absurd, and well they know it.

10,000 passports go to fraudsters
Thousands of people, including two men convicted over terror attacks, obtained passports under false pretences, the Home Office has admitted.

It admitted 10,000 passports were wrongly given in the past year, but said plans to interview applicants would combat such fraud.

One of the men was convicted of a bombing in Morocco, and the other of planning a major attack in the UK.

The Conservatives called the admission "shocking".

The figures were revealed as the Identity and Passport Service gave details of plans for interviews for passports at a network of new offices.

Face-to-face interviews for adults applying for a passport for the first time would be gradually introduced from May, it said.

The two men who obtained false passports were Dhiren Barot and Salaheddine Benyaich.

A former Hindu who converted to Islam
Sentenced to life after pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder
Planned radioactive "dirty" bomb
Planned attacks on Heathrow Express and Tube under Thames
The Stock Exchange in New York was another target
Police say he was a very important figure in al Qaeda
Had seven passports in his true identity and two in false identities

Barot, from London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder at Woolwich Crown Court in December and was sentenced to life with a recommendation that he serve 40 years.

He had seven passports in his true identity and two further passports in fraudulent identities.

The IPS said he would not have been able to obtain the latter two passports in fraudulent identities if he had been interviewed.

Moroccan national Benyaich had two British passports in the name of a British citizen born in Brighton. He is currently serving 18 years in Morocco for terrorist offences.

The IPS said a face-to-face interview would have stopped his application.

Home Office minister Joan Ryan said the IPS had 16,500 fraudulent applications during the 12 month period to September 2006 - 10,000 of which went undetected.

She said that represented a level of undetected fraud of about 0.15% of the planned 6.6 million passports issued per year.

Interviews phased in gradually from May to end of year
For applicants over the age of 16 who have not held a passport in their own name before
Assessments take 30 minutes, including an interview of 10-20 minutes
The first new offices will be in Peterborough, Belfast, Glasgow and Newport
Another 65 offices across the UK by the end of the year
Offices close at 6pm, all will be open on Saturdays
Video conferencing for those in remote communities
Six week wait for a passport, compared to three or four now

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "This is a shocking admission which betrays chaos at the heart of the passport system."

Downing Street said the multi-billion-pound plans for biometric ID cards would help in the fight against fraudulent applications.

But Mr Davis said it undermined the government's case for its "expensive" ID card system because false passport holders could use the document to get a genuine ID card.

The Liberal Democrats accused the government of using the "bad news" about false passports to back its case for ID cards.

Nick Clegg, the party's home affairs spokesman, said more security features on passports and targeted interviews were a better way of tackling passport fraud.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, and the campaign group NO2ID both said that the interviews would inconvenience millions of law-abiding people, while criminal gangs would find it easy to get round the new safeguards.

'More sophisticated'

The prime minister's official spokesman said each fraud case was being followed up and the problem was being addressed by the interviews.

Ms Ryan said the main threats of fraud came from first-time adult applicants, followed by first-time child applications.

"It appears that the level of attempted fraud is increasing and getting more sophisticated," she said.

IPS executive director Bernard Herdan said applicants would be expected to know answers from a pool of around 200 questions about their personal and financial history, such as previous addresses and when their parents were born.

"We will not ask questions to which we don't know the answers," he said.

"Before the interview takes place, we will have cross-checked that individual against various databases in order to uncover information about them."



An Open letter to the Prime Minister
October 13th 2003


Dear Prime Minister

I believe it is a mistake to think that to substantially enhance public security and ensure the proper governance of this country, ID cards must be universal and compulsory. On the contrary, any attempt to achieve perfection in this respect would tend to compromise the level of validity and authenticity of cards. It would also render the introduction extremely expensive, highly contentious and impossible to implement in the time scale required.

There are those who claim that because cards can be lost or stolen or forged, their introduction would cause many new problems and give criminals a new way to commit crimes including terrorism, just as credit and debit cards as used by the UK today have been used. I believe that these objections can be realistically rebutted on a sustainable basis by the proper application of the scheme and the proper use of technology.

In order to allow the day to day activities of travel and assembly on which the prosperity of our western democracies now depend, it essential that security procedures that verify the bona fides, or the identity, or the history of individuals passing through any check point, or availing themselves of services, do not take so long, or demand such a level of expert human intervention, that the economic and logistic penalties are unsupportable.

On the security side, it has been suggested that if everyone in the UK had an ID card it would not stop all terrorist acts. Here again the fundamental point is being missed. The prevention of such an act does not depend only on the single act of stopping one or more men on the one day a terrorist act is planned. Nor does it depend only on the prevention of weapons being, for example, smuggled aboard an aircraft or train by passengers when these can be placed in advance by cleaners or engineers in league with the terrorists or subject to major bribery or blackmail.

The way to get ID cards to be really effective is to make them voluntary, and at nil or low cost to the applicant. They should be issued free to asylum seekers, but the quid-pro-quo would be that for asylum seekers they would be compulsory.  In addition to basic identity details, the applicant must be able to put as much data on the card from a list of options as they wish. The data would be in defined categories, and could include many sorts of references such as family members, current and previous jobs, military service, referees, driving licence, passport, nat insurance numbers, address, education, qualifications, a fingerprint, signature, membership of organisations, photograph of face.

The data on the card would also be held in a database, which would also have a unique pin, matching the card, established at the time of registration and encrypted. I emphasise again - the carriage of the card would be voluntary, the amount of data other than the very basic Name and Nationality would be at the discretion of the holder. There would be no charge at all for the establishment of a basic ID card. It would be paid for by government out of general taxation. However every item of data entered would need to be verified, and entry would be done at only at special centres, where the individual would need to appear in person. A charge could be made for additional data entry that would enable the card to be used for services or license details or higher security access for certain jobs.

Let us now suppose that there is a bit of a security flap on at Heathrow. Those people in possession of ID cards will take the strain to a significant extent off the security staff, as they can be passed through a stream that will take less time. This will leave more staff to process those without cards, who will therefore also benefit.

Let us suppose that there is a threat from crop-spraying aircraft. The persons running training courses in crop-spraying would be told to ask for ID cards from all those who enter the airfield, every day. Any new arrival applying for training would be asked for an ID card with a level of data stipulated by the government. Training establishments could be informed instantly of any change in level required. Anyone without a card or with a card with insufficient data would have to supply this data from other verifiable sources. This would take them some time, but not bar them from access.

A newcomer applies for a job as a baggage handler at Heathrow. For this job, an ID card will now be required. The level of data would be decided in consultation with the relevant trade union. The card will be required for daily check-in.

There are many other examples which can be shown to prove that:

(1). Only a voluntary system of ID cards can be introduced progressively within the time to be useful and at an acceptable cost. (2). Only a voluntary system can guarantee the high level of security and authenticity to make it reliable. (3). A voluntary system can speed up the processing of regular travellers and attenders who opt for the system. (4). A voluntary system can allow security staff to speed up the processing of travellers/attenders who do NOT have such cards.

What happens when an individual loses their card? It's not the end of the world. They report it missing. To get a new one they have to report in person to an issuing centre, but for reasons I need not go into here the system itself will make it easier, not harder, for them to manage life in the meantime.

What can a criminal or terrorist do with a stolen card before it has been reported missing? If it is a serendipitous theft, in the short term, not a lot. If the card is being used in a serious security check, it would have photo and other data that would not match the thief. If it was a card stolen to order, unreported, it is possible to imagine that there will be those who might attempt to use it in some way. However I must emphasise that the reason for the level of crime associated with all sorts of cards used so far is that the design and application of the technology used was very inadequate, and the fault can be traced to business politics that do not cover those involved with glory. There is no need to make a pig’s ear of it, as long as the decisions are taken right out of the hands of all those with vested interests. It is quite reasonable to envisage a system where the last thing anyone in possession of a stolen ID card would do is try use it or copy or reprogram it, even if it had not been reported stolen.

Providing there is agreement on certain standards, each EU country can operate its own system, for which it takes responsibility, while making it available for the verification of their ID card holders when travelling abroad. There need be no 'ID-Day' for the introduction. Card readers can be introduced as and when possible at each port, airport, in police cars, conference halls, public buildings etc.

There should be no objection to a scheme such as the above as it does not infringe anyone's civil liberties. It is in essence a time-and-labour-saving device to enable security checks which may need to be carried out from time to time to be completed within the time and cost limits imposed by nature on the techno-cultural complex within which we co-evolve.

As time goes by, it is likely that more and more people would take out official ID cards. But it is quite possible they may never be compulsory in the UK unless the individual wishes to avail him or her self of certain privileges.

Yours truly

James Baring

UPDATE APRIL 27th 2004
The introduction of ID cards on a voluntary basis as suggested above (although the cost is not known) is now in hand. It is interesting to see that there is wide approval, and that the objectors are mainly objecting (a) to the idea that they would become compulsory and (b) that to be effective they would need to be linked to a centralised database which would be difficult to protect from abuse. These objections are of course valid, but the advantages will greatly outweigh the disadvantages. At the moment, all sorts of identity theft and data abuse are difficult to detect and deal with. A proper ID system will make it possible to take sensible action in self defence.

The fundamental objection on civil liberties grounds is based on a failure to understand the level of privilege that citizens of the developed world now possess as a right. We have as individuals more power and privilege than a king or queen of 1000 years ago. We can travel on a whim to the other side of the world in a few hours. We expect to have the state at our service, to pass through airports without delay, to travel on roads that are safe, to board trains anywhere to go anywhere, to collect social security or national health treatment. We are not exercising freedoms here, we are exercising incredible privilege, and the least we can do is make the administration of all this possible. At the moment we expect too much of those who we hold responsible for our well being.

 As for those who say ID cards would not have prevented the Madrid bombings, they cannot possibly know. Having a properly conceived and running ID system could very well mean that more time and personnel could be applied to human intelligence, and this can prevent just such events, though obviously not all.

UPDATE JUNE 30th 2004
The Home Affairs Committee Report:
  608KB - 105 Pages 

Here is the official summary of the report:

In this report we consider the Government’s proposals for an identity cards scheme and the draft Identity Cards Bill.

The report provides a brief history of UK identity cards.

We outline international developments in identity documents and the experience of a number of countries inside and outside Europe. International experience clearly indicates that identity cards and population registers operate with public support and without significant problems in the rest of Europe. However, given the variety in social, political and legal culture and history, it cannot be assumed that any given approach will work in this country, nor is there any significant international experience to draw on for the use of biometrics on the scale proposed. We outline the implications of the Government’s decision to use passports and driving licences for the design and use of a UK identity card system.

We consider the objections of principle raised to identity card schemes. We conclude that objections of principle should not be lightly dismissed and that the Government’s proposed scheme would represent a significant change in the relationship between state and individual in this country. But we do not believe that identity cards should be rejected on constitutional grounds alone: the test should be whether the costs are proportionate to the benefits of an ID card system.

We examine evidence that the proposals would not work or would be unacceptably risky.

The proposed scheme is unprecedentedly large and complex and will handle sensitive personal data and we conclude that measures to ensure its integrity must be built into all aspects of its development. We express concern about the Government’s lack of clarity about the scheme’s scope and practical operation, and the current procurement process.

We set out the aims of the scheme given by the Government and assess how the scheme might contribute to the stated aims. We note that the Government’s stated aims have changed over time and indicate where further clarity is still required.

We conclude that ID cards can make a significant contribution to tackling illegal working, but only when accompanied by wider enforcement measures. ID cards could make a contribution to reducing illegal immigration, but only if the scheme is properly enforced and complemented by action on access to public services.

We conclude that ID cards would make a real and important contribution to fighting organised crime and terrorism by disrupting the use of multiple identities, identity fraud and related activities like money-laundering. We note the support for an ID card scheme from law enforcement agencies. We conclude that the full benefits would come with a compulsory scheme.

An identity card scheme would help combat identity fraud, but we note the need for appropriate checks on the card and on biometrics. Government should clarify how and when it expects the card to be checked.

ID cards would make it easier to establish entitlement to public services, but action should be taken now to ensure that measures to check identity are developed across public services. The Government should review entitlements to all public services. We express concern that there may be up to four different systems for checking entitlement in different parts of the United Kingdom.

The scheme would improve access to public services to an extent, but in the absence of coherent proposals for improving access to a wider range of services and information, citizens may still have to carry a wide range of cards.

We conclude that among the issues common to the areas in which the Government expects identity cards to make a contribution are the level and nature of checks required and how the operation of services needs to be changed to take advantage of cards. In most cases cards will only be fully effective if complementary action is taken. More could be done now to check identities and there is a danger that action will be delayed until identity cards are introduced.

We note strong public support for the principle of identity cards, but little enthusiasm for paying fees at the level suggested. We criticise the use of the term ‘voluntary’ to describe the first phase of the scheme, but believe that an incremental approach to the introduction of cards is justified. We stress the importance of ensuring that the proposals do not impose new disadvantages on vulnerable groups and minorities.

We consider the design and planned operation of the scheme. It will be important to establish the right technical and managerial structure from the outset. We are concerned that the Government’s approach has not ensured adequate technical debate and public scrutiny.

A balance must be struck between protecting individuals from unnecessary access to information and ensuring that users of the database have the information they need. We point to the implications of, for example, a national fingerprint register, and conclude that Parliament should be to able oversee and prevent ‘function creep’ in the use of the National Identity Register.

The Government should clarify the operational reasons for requiring addresses on the register, given the significant administrative consequences of doing so. If addresses are included, it should be a legal requirement for landlords to register their tenants. The Government should also clarify the purpose of the number assigned to each individual on the register and its relation to other identifying numbers used by the state The security and reliability of biometrics are central to the Government’s proposals. No comparable system of this size exists. There should be exhaustive testing of the biometrics chosen and the results assessed by independent experts, perhaps led by the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

It would appear from the above that the committee is unhappy about the government's description of its proposal as Voluntary. The critics who claim that the technology is not yet up to the job would indeed have a case if the scheme was to be made compulsory at the start. Even in the later stages the ID card must be a facilitator that gives privilege in terms of the speed of processing. It must not be used as a form of exclusion within the confines of the UK, even if it does mean that those who do not avail themselves of the ID card may have to submit to more checks than those who do. The scheme will allow more time and personnel to be available to deal with them. This will be one of its greatest advantages. Those who do use ID cards will enable a relatively small staff to deal carefully and thoroughly with the proper use and integrity of the ID system. That will be the other great advantage, compared to the current situation where documents are forged by the cartload and identities are out of control. The imperfections of some of the biometric systems are not as critical to the function of any scheme as the critics claim.
9. The Committee did not recommend the introduction of a compulsorily held card,
noting that none of the bodies who might have been expected to be in favour, such as the
police and the financial and commercial sectors, had called for one. The Committee further
concluded that it should not become the practice for access to individual public services to
be made dependent on the presentation of a card. It also noted that it was common
ground in the evidence received that there should be no charge to the citizen if a card were
to be compulsory. The Committee also recommended against a unique identity number
for each card holder, on the grounds that the gain that might be derived from it would
probably be outweighed by the increased data protection risks.

This does differ from the proposals in the consultation paper:

39. On 3 July 2002 the Home Office published a consultation paper on Entitlement Cards
and Identity Fraud. The paper stated that:
“A universal entitlement card scheme would:
(i) provide people who are lawfully resident in the UK with a means of confirming
their identity to a high degree of assurance;
(ii) establish for official purposes a person’s identity so that there is one definitive
record of an identity which all Government departments can use if they wish;
(iii) help people gain entitlement to products and services provided by both the
public and private sectors, particularly those who might find it difficult to so do at
(iv) help public and private sector organisations to validate a person’s identity,
entitlement to products and services and eligibility to work in the UK.”
40. It continued: “The Government does not wish to consult on the introduction of a
compulsory scheme, by which it means a card which everyone would have and be required
to carry at all times.” But the paper also made clear that the preferred option was a
“universal” entitlement card scheme, by which everyone in the country over a certain age
was required to register with the scheme and to obtain a card, and a card would be the only
way to access particular services (other than in an emergency or in cases where a card had
been lost or stolen).
41. The preferred option of a universal entitlement card scheme was described by the paper
as one under which:
“(i) it would be a requirement that all lawful residents of the UK over a certain age
register with a scheme and obtain a card;
(ii) service providers would be free to decide whether or not to use the card scheme
as the means to access their services;
(iii) service providers who did choose to use the card scheme would make the
scheme the exclusive way to access their services (with exceptions for emergencies
such as lost or stolen cards);
(iv) some services would rely on the database which administered the card scheme
rather than require production of a card if that was a more efficient and convenient
way to provide the service.”

NOVEMBER 24th 2004
Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (whose experience and opinion I respect!) has announced today that she has changed her mind on the matter of ID cards and thinks that they are (a) necessary and (b) with the current ICT options, viable. She is right. It is essential for individuals to be able to establish their identity beyond doubt, and secure it from theft. A combination of the right ICT and administrative procedures can achieve this. Both can be implemented and can be mutually self-verifying, with the participation of the individuals concerned. It is essential for government that they can ease the administrative load on those charged with establishing the identity of individuals exercising the privileges afforded by the 21st century in travel, communications, commerce and services. The points made in my letter of October 13th 2003 (below) remain valid, however. Participation should be voluntary, with certain exceptions. The arguments that ID cards were not required in the UK in the past, that European countries with ID cards still have problems, that the ICT behind other systems has not worked, that all government ICT projects so far have been flawed are all based on truth, with the exception that Identity cards were required in the UK in times of emergency in the past, even if they did not fulfill their function well. They do not lead to the conclusion that a modern ID system should not be implemented - quite the reverse.

DECEMBER 20th 2004
The House of Commons today predictably voted in favour of starting the process of passing the Governments proposed legislation on the introduction of Identity Cards.  The public has been addressed via the media by a spokesman (Des Brown?) who has a better grasp of the realities than most of the front or back-bench politicians who have been blathering on pointlessly, though Charles Clarke himself does seem to have a grip. David Davis seems to think it has something to do with 'nine-eleven' - at least he has to pretend that is why he cannot oppose the bill. The truth is the means we used to establish our identity in the last century, when exercising our rights to participate in commercial transactions, to exercise various privileges, to collect certain benefits, to authorise actions of consequence, to apply for certain jobs that require security clearance, to gain access to vulnerable areas or vehicles etc. are quite inadequate for the 21st century. Apart from the massive increase in the number of people now exercising privileges once available only to a few, we now have a technological environment where identity theft or invention or dissemblance can enable an individual to gain access to means of devastating economic manipulation or command and control of systems on which the economy or even the physical wellbeing of the nation depends. 'Nine-Eleven' may have woken up some sleeping dimwits, but that sort of terrorist attack is not the reason why the new ID system, of which the cards are only one element, are now necessary. This does not mean we have to carry a card or even have a card. It means that for certain purposes, in certain circumstances, when we need to prove our identity, the card will make it easy. Without the card we would need, on those occasions, to come up with some other convincing evidence or answer a long list of questions until we have satisified whoever it is who needs to know - like a bank or a technical or commercial service provider.  This is not a practical possiblity for either those running the services or those wishing to use them or to register for them so as to use in the future.