Dear Mr Moss,
Thank you for your email of 12 August.
The Government is introducing the National Identity Service with the purpose of providing UK residents aged 16 and over with an identity card as a secure and reliable method of proving identity information. We are introducing the Service in a way that will deliver most benefit to all us of as quickly as possible. That means a twin track approach which prioritises both increasing public protection in sensitive areas and making life easier for people who will gain most in their daily lives from having or using an identity card.
Reliable means to prove and protect identity is a fundamental requirement in modern society, whether in applying for a job, travelling across borders, opening a bank account or applying for state benefits. However, rapidly-moving technology and greatly increased mobility of people are driving new requirements for identity documents to fit in with how we live our lives and do business today. They must be more flexible so transactions can be more convenient and less time consuming - to allow for more citizen-focussed services or access to services via the internet for example. Equally, they must also incorporate additional protections to safeguard us against those who would seek to exploit new advances to help them steal our identities or create false ones for use in illegal activity.
The Government's proposals are designed to safeguard, not erode, civil liberties by protecting people's true identity against fraud and by enabling them to prove their identity more easily when accessing public or private services The Government has also introduced several safeguards to ensure that the Service is run appropriately. The Identity Cards Act 2006 establishes stringent safeguards regarding the use of the cards; what information they contain and how checks against the National Identity Register (NIR) are made. There will also be an independent Identity Commissioner whose task will be to keep both the use of identity cards and the NIR under review.
It is crucial that we are able to confirm and verify our own and others' identities quickly, easily and securely. Consequently, we believe that there are clear benefits to be gained from the National Identity Service. It will not only safeguard our identities but also provide a means to prove our identity that facilitates easier access to services, fitting more closely with how we live our lives today.
More information on the National Identity Service is available on our online service, available through the DirectGov website at: www.direct.gov.uk/identity.