Wed, 21 Feb 2007
Along with 27,977 other UK residents I signed a petition demanding
'the Prime Minister to scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards'.
The petition closed on February 15th and on the 19th we all
received a response
by email, from the Prime Minister.
Tony Blair attempts to justify the Government's position by quoting
unsubstantiated statistics and anecdotal data (e.g., terrorists use up
to 50 multiple identities at a time and a quarter of criminals also
use a false identity). Most of the arguments in the letter are not new
and have already been debunked by NO2ID
UK Liberty does a good recap
of the many issues of this letter.
What did surprise me was this paragraph:
I also believe that the National Identity Register
will help police
bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice. They will be able, for
example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000
unsolved crimes against the information held on the register. Another
benefit from biometric technology will be to improve the flow of
information between countries on the identity of offenders.
It would appear from this that all the bioinformation held on the NIR
will be wide open for fishing expeditions by the British Police and
Police forces from other countries (Europe? USA? others?).
This is not something I had understood to be the case and as
NO2ID points out, it contradicts what Tony McNulty, then Home Office
minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality, stated in Standing
on 6 July 2005:
Again, the police, like other public bodies, even
though there is that
exemption under the DPA, need to substantiate why they would want to go
through somebody's record in detail. They are allowed to, but not on a
fishing expedition. The form of that is elaborated on later in the
Bill—in clauses 19 to 23, I am told, as if by magic. There are
safeguards not only against state agencies, for want of a better
phrase, going fishing in the database but against misbehaviour and
abuse of the database by those who manage the system.
made an earlier reply in this Standing Committee D that
highlights another issue I hadn't grasped:
bye, I want to explore one point further, and
perhaps return to
it later in our deliberations. It might be the one about which the hon.
and learned Member for Harborough was getting agitated. It is simply
this: the existence of a PNC number for an individual implies a
criminal record. If the
PNC number is recorded in the public domain in
the sense of the verification process, one does not have access to the
substance about a criminal record and the offences that a person has
committed. In such circumstances, people who perhaps should not could
have access to the fact that someone has a PNC number and therefore a
record. It does not follow that even if someone captures the PNC number
on the verifiable end of the database, it allows them to unlock the
door and see what is on a person's record. The existence of the PNC
implies that there is a record. I need to consider that in
and will come back to the Committee.
that all those arrested - including the many innocents -
will end up with a PNC number in the NIR that may be communicated
during the verification process. Looks like this may become one more
long time effect of my arrest.
UPDATE 2007-02-21: The Reg has a good piece
as well, which reveals
that this email from Tony Blair is a rehash of an opinion piece he
wrote last November for the Telegraph
UPDATE 2007-02-21: Andy Burnham has since said
on 18 April 2006:
The Identity Cards Act ensures that personal
reference numbers which would tend to reveal sensitive personal data
cannot be held on the register. The PNC number for example, could not
be added to the register as this could suggest that the individual had
been of interest to the police, or that the individual had a criminal