HMS ID Card heads for iceberg

I’ll come clean, I’m opposed to ID cards not just on ideological grounds but because I fear its going to be an unmitigated IT disaster. No government has ever attempted such an ambitious scheme, especially one with such dismal record on implementing large scale IT projects – think tax credit system fiasco, CSA computer system shambles.

The government may have won a key vote on the controversial ID card legislation, in the Commons this week, but rather than giving up this seems to have just emboldened critics of the scheme.

First we had the admission from the Home Office Minister responsible for ID cards that the government has still to decide what the format and the structure of the database that underpins the whole scheme will take.

Then there was the warning from Dr Brian Gladmen an information security specialist, who has worked for Nato and the Ministry of Defence, over the inherent security risk of having one central identity database, which is sure to make an extremely tempting target for hackers; the equivalent of placing all your eggs in one basket and then leaving them in front of an advancing bulldozer.

Dr Gladmen also highlights the issue of database pollution and the astronomical costs that he believes will be required to ensure the database is kept clean and the details kept up to date.

So will the companies bidding for the project raise these concerns with the government? I’m sure there will be those that will but, given that this is going to be an information technology gravy train, the scale of which may never be seen again if the scheme goes belly up, objective criticism from some quarters may be lukewarm,

As Professor Ian Angell from the London School of Economics, a long time opponent of the ID card scheme, points out, the government’s IT reputation is such that, should it all go wrong, these companies can easily palm blame onto ministers and civil servants

I’ve resigned myself to the ID card bill making it onto the statute book and in the meantime I’ve made sure my passport has been renewed so I can avoid adding to my name to the National Identity Register for as long as possible.

I’m now left in the uncomfortable position of hoping the scheme fails but watching as more and more taxpayers money is spent on a scheme that is showing all the hallmarks of another government IT disaster.