Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
ID cards: government hypocrisy and irresponsibility. Rob Hinkley makes the definitive comment on the government's reluctance to disclose its deliberations on the ID card project.

The BBC story Rob links to says, "Critics of the controversial identity cards say the scheme will be hugely expensive and have questioned what benefits it will bring." Those who criticise the scheme on grounds of cost make a fair point. Cost overruns on government projects, particularly technology projects, are so notorious that when I reached the scene in Ark Angel where Nikolei Drevin tells the captured Alex Rider all about his dreadful plans, and breaks off to moan about how collaboration with the British government on a hi-tech project has nearly exhausted even his billions, I found myself almost hoping that Alex would offer the poor chap a Kleenex and an apology.

However, we were talking about the government's plan to introduce ID cards, not the schemes of villains...

I take your point. I'll try that again. When talking about the government's plan to introduce ID cards, weighing cost versus benefit is only half the story.

My old college principal, Daphne Park, is not asking where the final benefits will fall on a scale starting at zero. She thinks that the ID card scheme will do actual harm to national security. My reasons for thinking that she ought to be listened to on this issue are not limited to the fact that I have drunk of her sherry.

A NATIONAL identity card scheme will be a "present" to terrorists, criminal gangs and foreign spies, one of Britain's most respected former intelligence agents has told ministers.

The warning from Daphne Park, who served for 30 years as a senior controller for MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, came as the parliamentary power struggle over the identity cards bill dragged on.

Baroness Park, who was made a peer by Margaret Thatcher, passed a withering verdict on the proposed cards, ridiculing ministers' suggestions that the system will make people safer. In fact, she said, the complete opposite is true.

"The very creation of such an enormous national identity register will be a present to terrorists; it will be a splendid thing for them to disrupt and blow up," she said.

"It will also provide valuable information to organised crime and to the intelligence services of unfriendly countries. It will be accessible to all of these," she said.