BBC to turn identity card crisis into a drama

Accordiong to Henry Deedes, writing in the Independent’s “Pandora” column, the BBC is “planning a hard-hitting drama series tackling the thorny issue of government ID cards”:

The series, called The Last Enemy, will star upcoming Blood Diamonds actor David Harewood. Set sometime in the near future, the plot centres around grizzly murders carried out with the assistance of ID card theft.

“It’s meant to be an apocalyptic drama,” I’m told. “It’s aiming to paint a pretty depressing picture of the country if ID cards get the nod. I think the idea is that it will be quite Orwellian.”

Either way, the series will aims to cause a stir on the prickly issue, which which may have been the reason the BBC weren’t keen to go into any details.

“The series will be broadcast in five parts which we hope will go out later this year sometime,” says a spokesman for the programme. “ID cards do feature in the plot but it is too early to go into details I’m afraid.”

Joker in Dutch ID card pack

A Dutchman has obtained an official ID card showing him disguised as a clown. The man, who works in the security industry, opted for comic make-up and a funny hat after reading the regulations for the new “secure” ID cards, which include a digitally scanned photo. “The rules were so vague that I burst out laughing,” he told Dutch radio. In fact, the requirements for ID photos are quite strict, but they permit exceptions for clothing dictated by religious or philosophical convictions. So he told his local town hall that he felt philosophically obliged to dress up like the Joker in the Batman movies. Officialdom bowed to this deeply held belief. Asked by a journalist for his conclusions, the man replied “I conclude that I’m walking around with an ID card that doesn’t look anything like me. Mind you, my driving licence doesn’t either.”

Unamused by the avalanche of publicity, a shamefaced not to say clown-faced town hall has now officially demanded that he bring his card back. But the Joker affair has come at an awkward time for the Dutch government. Showing ID on demand became compulsory in the Netherlands on 1 January 2005. An interim review of the working of this law was supposed to be ready at the end of last December. It has failed to appear. A full review is required by January 2008, under the terms of the legislation. But the justice minister reportedly wrote to Dutch MPs this month, asking that the review be postponed until 2009. In protest, MPs have tabled a motion insisting on the original deadline. In the two years up to last December, 107,133 fines were handed out for failure to show ID. That is the official figure. Dutch anti-ID campaigners say the real one is much higher. About half of those fined have not paid, and will be taken to court.

The Joker’s ID can be verified in all its glory at http://www.nos.nl/nosjournaal/artikelen/2007/1/25/240107_joker.html

Government plans tougher border controls

Tim Hall writes in the Daily Telegraph:

Measures to tighten Britain’s borders will be announced today in the latest bid to crack down on illegal immigration.

Border staff will be given new powers, including the rights to fingerprint and digitally store the photograph of any foreign national arriving in the country. The move is expected to pave the way for full biometric ID cards for all immigrants.

Later this morning the Home Office will introduce the changes in the Borders Bill – the fifth piece of legislation introduced in eight years in a bid to get more control over immigration.

Mr Reid’s expected measures have already been widely criticised. Phil Booth, national coordinator of NO2ID, which campaigns against the introduction of identity cards, said the Government was making a “devastating” mistake.

He said: “We’re talking about people who contribute billions of pounds a year in tax to our economy being told they must be fingerprinted and recorded to live and work here.”

Danny Sriskandarajah, from the Institute for Public Policy Research, told the BBC that Mr Reid was “desperate” to show he had a handle on immigration.

U-turn cuts risks of ID card scheme

Bill Goodwin writes in Computer Weekly:

The Home Office was quick to deny a u-turn when it published its new Strategic Action Plan just before Christmas.

But it is clear that the national identity cards project will now be radically different, and simpler, than originally envisaged. In the words of one industry commentator, “It is a u-turn of giant proportions.”

Out go plans for a purpose-built population database and proposals to record the iris patterns of 60 million people. And the timetable for the mass roll out of ID cards has been quietly moved from 2008 to 2010.

In a related article, Goodwin writes:

The revised ID cards scheme is central to government plans to share data across government departments