An Obsession with Identity

Speaking at the InfoSec show yesterday, Lord Merlin Errol claims that government is ploughing too many resources into the ID cards scheme while failing to provide resources to fight e-crime. Joining me briefly for coffee and biscuits in the press room, we agreed that there was a pre-occupation with identity which was distracting attention away from the growing challenge from online crime.

During his keynote speech at the conference , Lord Erroll said: "ID is very much on the political agenda. E-crime is not so much. Why not?

"You consider the millions [of pounds] to sort out ID cards. I could do a lot more with that. ID is seen as a way of stopping crime - a quick solution. But I question whether that is true. People think it's used to keep you safe.

"We can be much more subtle about this. The thing that no one is talking about is electronic ID. That's sad."

Erroll said central government is planning to use ID cards as a way of controlling the population, whereas local governments are looking at the range of services they can provide, such as healthcare.

Lord Errol added: "The problem is when you have all the technology. All of these things are not perfect. The Home Office worries about policing but there is a huge drought of forensic research resources and that can take up an awful lot of police time."

Erroll doubted whether the formation of the Serious Organised Crime Agency would solve government's e-crime fighting problems.

He said: "I'm not sure the right way to deal with it is by setting up new agencies with new powers. If those powers are used wisely, I would still like to see some sort of democratic accountability secured."