The coalition government were scathing of Labours plans for an ID register and scrapped those plans as soon as they got in – with a general sigh of relief all around. It is now reported that they have quietly begun work on a new national identity system which is due to be in place as early as October.
They claim that the purpose of the scheme is to cut Whitehall administration costs by delivering public services on-line via the web which is all well and good but when nearly half the UK population have no internet access, they will be excluded from accessing such services.
Francis Maude tries to justify the governments position by claiming:
“Currently customers have to enter multiple login details and passwords to access different public services, sometimes on the same website,” said Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister responsible for the cross-government plan.
“This involves significant duplication, is expensive to operate and is highly inconvenient for users.”
Which is all well and good but the various departments have chosen to implement diverse and conflicting systems with no logical or consistent front-end; the multitude of login requirements for different public services should have been taken into account in the first place and there is no real indication that an ID card will ease this problem – the front-end of each government website has to be adjusted whether you have a card or a single ID and PIN; the logic doesn’t hold water.
His further claims of “identity assurance” is also nonsense because no system is 100% secure and when dependency is placed entirely on the basis of a single form of ID, then the civil servants and bureaucrats will need to think less and simply take up the cry of ‘computer sez no’ – it’s a recipe for disaster and the government is spinning a tale to justify the implementation of the new ID system. (Cartoonby: Royston Robertson).
A full report was presented to the DWP over a year ago highlighting the failure of the various government websites to provide the information they claim is there; broken links, dead-ends and errors were all documented and presented to the DWP who failed to consider the issues and simply buried the problem thereby preventing disabled people from accessing the services they required.
People are being taken to court by councils for non-payment of council tax, when they have every payment receipt in their hands yet because someone has neglected to do their job, a box does not get ticked and the computer generates a letter leading to a summons to appear before the Judge and all because there is no need to think because the computer does it for you.
Public services should include personality, humanity and accessibility – this trend of putting even more distance between the master and slave (the tax-payer being the master should there be any doubt) is worrisome because it reduces the public to a numbered statistic rather than a human being.
We notice that the primary intention is the identity assurance nonsense to bolster forthcoming radical reforms to the benefits system which will invariably hit disabled people the hardest as they have the most barriers between them and the use of computer technology.
Guy Herbert, the general secretary of NO2ID hits the nail on the head when he comments that the bureaucratic imperative to collect and share data will take precedence no matter what the original intentions of this scheme might be.