Clarifying our position against ID Cards and the National Identity Register
9th April 2010 11:21 | by Andrew Robinson
Following the publication of the Pirate Party UK's manifesto, we have been accused of supporting ID cards and the government's intrusive, dangerous and worryingly flawed National Identity Register. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
To put the record straight, our manifesto clearly states "We strongly oppose compulsory ID cards, and pledge that we will never introduce them." Some political opponents have tried to twist our use of the world 'compulsory' to imply that we want to introduce non-compulsory ID cards, but this simply isn't the case. Many different voluntary ID cards already exist and are very useful, for example when borrowing a library book, or proving to a foreign hospital that the NHS will cover your medical expenses. The usefulness and unintrusiveness of these voluntry cards is the reason we do not propose a knee-jerk blanket banning of current, non-compulsory, cards that can be used to prove identity.
The National Identity Register
We strongly oppose the current plans for a National Identity Register that contains fingerprint, biometric and personal data. We clearly state in our manifesto that "The proposed National Identity Register will be regulated so that it can only contain trivial information". This would result in a very different database to the all-inclusive one currently proposed, as it would remove biometric data, fingerprints, and private information from the database.
Why regulate rather than destroy?
We recognise that there are times when it is sensible for government departments to share trivial information, for example many young people in this country are not currently eligible to vote in the general election because trivial information held by the department of education about their age is not connected to the register of electors. We believe that a minimal database of trivial information would be a good way to cut government waste and duplication, and that is why we plan to strongly regulate rather than blindly prohibit the sharing of trivial information by government departments. Arbitrarily prohibiting any form of central database would simpy mean that every government department would create their own database, vastly multiplying the chance of leaks, vastly multiplying the chance of inaccuracy, vastly multiplying the work needed by the public and government to correct mistakes or make changes and of course vastly multiplying the costs.
The need for regulation of all government databases
Government databases urgently need much tighter controls. Our manifesto pledges to introduce "a new right to compensation for people affected by government data loss" and "a new right to apply to a court for compensation where data protection laws have been broken." We believe that a strictly regulated set of government databases, limited in scope by law and safeguarded by strong legal rights rather than by an information commissioner who can choose not to act on your behalf, is the best way forward.
Our policies would replace the proposed Orwellian nightmare version of the National Identity Register with something that is well regulated, trivial and ultimately harmless. While while the exact wording of our policies might not match that found in the No2ID pledge, they fit perfectly with other similar campaigns such as section 2 of the Power 2010 pledge. We hope this statement makes it clear that we are simply proposing a slightly different and highly practical solution to achieving the same aim.