A humanitarian plea for mercy


by David Moss

January 2009


Thursday 29 January 2009, Manchester, the Home Secretary visits Manchester to explain how useful ID cards will be:

While in Manchester the Home Secretary visited Newall Green High School in Wythenshawe to meet young people who could be some of the first to be able to apply for cards from 2010. Together they discussed how identity cards will help young people strike out on their own by opening their first bank account, renting their first flat, or perhaps travelling to Europe for the first time.

Thursday 29 January 2009, London, Meg Hillier meets suppliers to discuss the business opportunities presented by the ID cards scheme. No press release, but according to silicon.com:

Head of security for Apacs Colin Whittaker told a conference hosted by the BCS Security Forum yesterday: “Some of the features we were expecting in the ID card are not going to be present for the foreseeable future.

“There’s nothing in the middle tech range which is where a lot of the user case scenarios - particularly in the financial sector - are going to give more value ...

“The online capabilities that we were hoping were going to be present are unlikely to be there for the foreseeable future.”

Apacs’ Whittaker questioned whether the ID scheme’s expense will outweigh its usefulness.

“I have some grave concerns as to whether we are going to get the services we want at a cost that is going to be meaningful,” he said.

Barclaycard too has reservations over where the cards can be used in financial services.

Richard Mould, head of card innovation at Barclaycard, told the conference: “We are a commercial sector. I need to think ‘is there a product, a service that I can charge for and that my customers want?’. I have not witnessed any yet.”

Mould said Barclays is happy with the PINsentry card reader that it uses to secure its own online transactions and currently sees no reason to switch to using ID cards.

What the Home Secretary was telling the students of Newall Green High School has the status of wishful thinking, myth, fairy tale, ... APACS and Barclaycard had a different story to tell.

This is not the first time that the Home Office’s fantasy has been confronted by reality. And each time, fantasy loses.

The point has been made before how miserable it must be to work at the Identity & Passport Service, how demotivating it must be to have your every claim instantly disproved, how undignified it is to work on a project the failure of which is guaranteed.

WIBBI* they stopped, now, instantly, in the interests of their own self-respect and worked instead on a feasible project, which must surely be the reason they joined the organisation in the first place.


* wouldn't it be better if

David Moss has spent six years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.

2009 Business Consultancy Services Ltd
on behalf of Dematerialised ID Ltd