UK Liberty

Home Office attempts to persuade unions on ID cards

Posted in ID Cards, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on October 20, 2008

The Guardian:

The Home Office is in active talks with trade unions in an attempt to persuade them to abandon opposition to the imminent introduction of compulsory ID cards for airport workers.

Meg Hillier, the minister in charge of ID cards and passports, today promised there would be no delays to the £4.7bn programme despite the threat of a UK economic recession.

In an interview with the Guardian ahead of a conference on biometric security checks in London tomorrow, she said many unions privately disapproved of a motion adopted by the TUC last month.

But clearly there was insufficient disapproval to prevent the motion from being carried.

…ID cards would save employers money by speeding up security checks for airside workers. “Some are now paying up to £180 for checks on [potential] members of staff, whereas with ID cards it’s all done,” Ms Hiller said.

You’d be mad to wholly trust the database particularly if you run an airport or airline or another ‘sensitive’ organisation. Note also that the Home Office itself has a problem with employing illegal immigrants (May 2006, November 2007, December 2007), so I’m not entirely sure why they think they should be trusted.

The first ID cards, for [non-EEA !!!!] foreign nationals, will be introduced next month followed by those for airport workers in 2009. Young people will be targeted in 2010 and from 2012 everyone applying for a passport will be put on the national identity register. …

The enrolment procedure can use facial imaging if there is a problem with fingerprints – for example officials confirmed that some racial groups, particularly those from Polynesian islands in the Pacific, have less pronounced ridges in their fingerprints. Face recognition technology relies chiefly on detecting the distance between people’s eyes – a characteristic that cannot be altered even by plastic surgery.

The Home Office has been studying work carried out by the US port authorities on reading the fingerprints of dock workers whose fingers have been worn smooth by hard manual labour.

Yes – having unclassifiable fingerprints may result in the loss of your job. I wonder if the unions would like that.

(Incidentally the New England scannersc check the fingerprint against the fingerprint on the chip, not a central database, and facilities continue to use their own ID cards.  It has also been called a Steel Door for a Grass Hut/)

Hillier said that trials of automated facial recognition gates at Manchester airport have been successful.

Was it?

Any chance of seeing the data so we can come to our own conclusions?

…Asked about the cost of the government’s ID programme, Hillier said the programme was largelyself-financing

– i.e. no wholly self-financing, so we pick up the rest of the tab –

– through the cost of enrolling in the scheme – and no savings would be made by cancelling it.

Shurely shome mishtake?

Is Hillier really claiming the scheme requires no capital investment – that is, no money upfront, to run trials, prototypes, set it up, run exhibitions and propaganda?

Not to mention that the estimate only covers the setting up and running of the scheme, not the cost of anyone trying to use it.  See the NHS IT budget, for example.

Not to mention that we would each save £30 by not having to buy at least an identity card! Scrapping the scheme would save money – it would save at least £5bn, or whatever it’s estimated to cost this week.


2 Responses

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  1. IanPJ said, on October 20, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Perhaps J. Smith would like to introduce it in the Home Office first. Lets insist on tagging the taggers first.

    Would be interesting to see how much disruption Civil Service unions there would cause as a result. Not that we would see any visible change of course.

  2. ukliberty said, on October 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Indeed, you just prompted a thought – surely Home Office (at least the IPS) staff are in more ‘sensitive’ roles than airport workers and foreign students.

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