UK Liberty

Salami slicing our way to compulsory registration

Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on April 3, 2008

In the Uncorrected Oral Evidence I’ve recently been reading, David Winnick mentioned Ross Anderson had given evidence to the UK Borders Bill Committee, so I looked at that too – and that led me to some interesting evidence on the Borders Bill, biometric visas and ID cards.

Here is an excerpt on how ‘salami slicing’ works in practice:

 Q   210   Mr. Jackson:  So, at the risk of inviting you on to tendentious ground, would you say that this is possibly an example of function creep, moving from biometric data into laying the infrastructure for a full national identity card scheme?

Professor Ross Anderson: I think the threat of that is fairly clear. It has been clear in ministerial utterances, in the explanatory notes to the Bill and in the excellent document produced by the House of Commons Library. It is straightforward that this is a stepping-stone towards an ID card scheme that Ministers envisage will at some future time be compulsory and used by many other services: banks, insurers, shops and so on to identify their customers. That brings us tothe objections that I raised before the Home Affairs Committee, and you can refer to the Committee’s record if you want the details.

The Chairman: We certainly cannot stray into a general discussion about ID cards. Did Mr. Herbert or Mr. Booth want to comment on the same point?

Guy Herbert: On the same point, it is explicitly part of the plan. If you look at the identity management action plan published by the Home Office at the end of the last parliamentary Session, you will see that the scheme is intended to use the biometric database that is being developed for immigration purposes as part of the national identity register. It is therefore explicitly a stepping-stone in a technological respect. It is also a stepping-stone in a legal respect. The House was promised during the passage of the Identity Cards Bill that there would be no compulsory element to the scheme and that that would be left to future legislation. Many Members and many Members of the public might have thought that that would be a new ID cards Bill to make them compulsory. The legislation shows that it can be salami-sliced. A section of the population is in effect being compelled on to the ID cards register, on the same database, through this legislation.

Also see the Home Secretary’s recent comments on the de facto compulsion of students, young people, airport workers and so on – ie if you want a loan, or if you want to work in an airport, you will be compelled to obtain a National Identtiy Card.

Phil Booth: During the passage of the Bill there was an exchange between the then Home Secretary and the Joint Committee on Human Rights that pointed out that to salami-slice the population in such a waywas potentially discriminatory. NO2ID is not aware that those concerns were sufficiently answered oranswered to the satisfaction of the Joint Committee. Furthermore, we would say that there is an administrative thing going on here in that there is an ongoing process by which the costs of the development of the ID card scheme are reported to Parliament on a six-monthly basis. We would be interested to see whether certain costs are now being hived off into other Departments in that way. If the biometric portion of the register is being built for that purpose, will it be tagged as an immigration cost rather than as an identity scheme cost?

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