It occurs to me that many people who haven't been tracking this issue as closely as NO2ID will not be aware of the key documents and initiatives that have led up to, or are a part of, these latest data-sharing 'revelations'.
To provide a single point of reference for now (to be added to main website later - see 'About ID cards
' for a more exhaustive historical list) I include below links to what appear to be the most important ones, in roughly chronological order:
1) The Citizen Information Project [Treasury]
- an Office for National Statistics (ONS) project, quietly 'wrapped into' the National ID Scheme just after the passing of the Identity Cards Act 2006. All the available
documentation on CIP is published here: http://www.gro.gov.uk/cip/
If you want to start somewhere, I strongly recommend the Final Report - you could get lost in the rest, which may have been the point of publishing it all - available as a 405KB PDF:
http://www.gro.gov.uk/cip/Download.asp? ... -26296.pdf
2) 'Transformational Government' [Cabinet Office]
- the key strategy document, subtitled 'Enabled by technology' with the the cringe-worthy strapline: 'Citizen and business-centred shared services, professionally delivered'. Places the National Identity Register (or 'NIR' - see below) right at the centre of things. Available as a 412KB PDF file:
http://www.cio.gov.uk/documents/pdf/tra ... rategy.pdf
– the Government's new 'Chief Information Officer' - publishes an Annual Report on 'Transformational Government', the first of which you can comment on here: http://www.commentonthis.com/tfg/
3) The Identity Cards Act 2006 [Home Office]
- bullied onto the statute books in March 2006, this is the piece of legislation that prompted the setting up of NO2ID as a public campaign. The 'National Identity Register' - whether one database, as originally promised, or three or many more - sits at the heart of the government's 'identity management' ambitions. And its tentacles will
reach into every aspect of YOUR life, if we don't stop it and get the Act repealed.
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/uk ... 015_en.pdf
- 217KB PDF
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/en2006/ukpg ... 015_en.pdf
- a further 187KB of Explanatory Notes...
4) 'Information Sharing Vision Statement' [DCA]
- buried in September 2006, just after the anniversary of 9/11 and when Tony Blair's troubles at the TUC were bound to grab the headlines. As NO2ID said at the time, "The announcement of the abolition of privacy ought to be big news" - it wasn't. We even went so far as to accuse the Information Commissioner of "throwing in the towel". People may draw their own conclusions from the deafening silence from the ICO on these latest announcements...
http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/sharing/infor ... haring.pdf
- 399KB PDF
5) The Varney Review [Treasury]
- Full title, 'Service transformation: A better service for citizens and businesses, a better deal for the taxpayer', fronted by Sir David Varney and published in December 2006. Available as a 752KB PDF file:
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media/53D ... review.pdf
You can also read it online and comment on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis at Sam Smith's excellent http://www.commentonthis.com/varney/
6) 'Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme - Safeguarding your identity' [Home Office]
- note the none-too-subtle shift from 'ID cards'. Buried literally hours before Parliament rose for Christmas on 19th December 2006. Available as an 858KB PDF file:
http://www.identitycards.gov.uk/downloa ... n_Plan.pdf
Commentable copy here: http://www.commentonthis.com/idaction/
You may note that the word "trust" does not appear once
in the entire document. A pretty fundamental concept for identity in any shape or form, entirely absent
from the government's plans...
These are the the reports published to date. But there are yet more in the pipeline:
7) 'The Straw Committee'
- we hadn't even heard that this was going on, until Stephen Harrison (chief civil servant at UK IPS) let it slip at a meeting of the British Computer Society. Intended to find "quick wins for identity management" so that the government can claim that state ID control is good for us, and that it is actually doing
something, anything, about it - despite having failed to put any of the ID scheme out to tender almost a year after forcing through the legislation.
8) 'The Hutton Report'
- mysteriously absent, despite having been dragged in to justify the latest data sharing announcements. Another review, this time of 'customer care standards across public services', that forms part of the Prime Minister's 11th hour sweeping policy review, a last-ditch attempt to tie his successor to his view of the New Labour project. Unfortunately, Gordon Brown and others do seem to be buying it...
[Clearly, given the government's outstanding record on IT delivery, the best way to improve the quality and efficiency of public services is to join all their databases together to permit data-sharing on an unprecedented scale and give bureaucrats even more
control over every aspect of our lives... NOT.]
9) The 'Public Private Forum on Identity Management'
- the former CEO of HBOS, Sir James Crosby, chairs Gordon Brown's 'ID taskforce'
that is expected to release a report in March 2007 on "how the public and private sectors can work together... to maximise efficiency and effectiveness".
It seems that there are quite a few of these reports floating about - might it not be more 'efficient and effective' to have a proper
debate, rather than to let the various departments, potential successors and candidates for the post-Blair top slots squabble amongst themselves?
Of course not, because we have...
10) 'Citizen panels' / 'Citizen forums'
- Tony Blair now tells us that:
"Ordinary people [hand-picked by government-retained PR merchants, of course]
will have the chance to directly influence government decisions [i.e. be used in a profoundly undemocratic way to rubber-stamp government policy]
as part of a major policy review starting this month.
"Members of the public will be consulted in a "deliberative forum" that will put them in the shoes of decision makers in government [overlooking for a moment the fact that these people won't be elected representatives, why are we supposed to be so impressed by this?]
. Cabinet Office Ministers Pat McFadden and Ed Miliband will support them throughout the process ['support'? More like 'manage any troublemakers that slip through the selection process']
"The February meetings will see 100 delegates study official papers currently under discussion, and then consider the same dilemmas [i.e. "We'll fix the questions, or at least tell you what they are." Surely these 'ordinary people' can make up their own minds what questions to ask? They might even help the government think through the issues from an 'ordinary person's' perspective...]
which Ministers face on a daily basis before making their final decisions."
The citizens' panels are expected to start reporting in March - hmm, I wonder if this could be timed to steal any of Crosby's thunder? - having had just one month
to deliberate on what, quite clearly, has taken ministers and civil servants years
to cook up.
There's a lot to plough through, but I urge those of you who want to understand just how concerted and deliberate an attack on civil liberty, personal security and privacy this is to make the time. The government is relying on you not to.