Home Office suppressed embarrassing ID cards report

Mark Ballard writes in Computer Weekly:

The Home Office hid the parlous state of its Identity Card Scheme from the public by withholding publication of a report by the project’s oversight board in the run up to the 2010 general election.

The Home Office slipped out the final report of the Independent Scheme Advisory Panel (ISAP) this week, more than a year after it was written. The ostensibly independent report, which reveals how the ID system had been compromised by poor design and management, was submitted to the Home Office in December 2009. It was modified on 4 January this year by people unknown, before finally being published on the Home Office web site.

The report repeated the same warnings ISAP had given the Home Office every year since the system blueprint was published in December 2006 by Liam Byrne and Joan Ryan, then Home Office Ministers, and James Hall, then head of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

The key elements of the ID scheme’s feasibility were still being clarified, nearly four years after it was approved by an act of parliament. Foremost among them were inadequate data security precautions and the threat posed by the systems’ complexity.

The report and Home Office response can be downloaded here. This FOI request, filed in August 2010, may also be of interest.