I am no great fan of the concept of National ID Cards, although my reasoning is not so much based upon distrusting the 'if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear' argument nor even the 'big brother invasion of privacy' paranoia which seems to grip most of the mainstream media in the UK whenever the subject is mentioned. I do admit that both of these things do play a part in my dislike of ID Cards though, but the real deal clincher for me has always been a bit more pragmatic: the UK Government is really crap at doing big IT projects and even crappier at protecting citizen data.
Just last year the British Prime Minister, Gordon 'looks really creepy smiling' Brown, admitted as much when he said that the Government was unable to "promise that every single item of information will always be safe." If further proof were need of the farce that is the ID Card scheme in Great Britain then look no further than what the Identity Minister, Meg Hillier, had to say in February when she admitted that even though some cards had already been distributed, there were no plans to make police forces buy readers for them.
Now, even the man who introduced the whole idea of ID Cards in the first place back in 2001 when he was Home Secretary, David Blunkett, appears to have made a rather dramatic u-turn on the subject. Speaking at the start of the annual InfoSec Europe conference in London yesterday, Blunkett suggested the plans should be scrapped and ID Cards replaced with mandatory biometric passports instead. He has even put the idea to the current Home Secretary, the second home expenses scandal and porn loving husband encumbered Jacqui Smith. Blunkett was not saying what her response has been though.
A spokesman for the Home Office told the BBC that "ID cards will provide the public with a single, simple and secure way for individuals to prove their identity and safeguard their personal details - protecting the community against crime, illegal immigration, and terrorism" and that the scheme will roll out as planned in 2011/2012.
Meanwhile, shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling told The Telegraph newspaper that "The Labour Party is all over the place on ID cards. They have been telling us for years that they are essential, but now it's clear they are split down the middle over the issue. Labour should accept the inevitable and scrap the scheme now."