James Hall, the chief executive of the UK’s Identity and Passport Service, has taken part in a Downing Street web chat on the subject of ID cards.
The session, which lasted about an hour, covered concerns about data protection, fingerprinting, the cost of ID cards and terrorism.
During the web chat – the second that has featured Mr Hall – he reiterated the Identity and Passport Service’s commitment to delivering the first ID cards to UK citizens in late 2009.
Mr Hall said: “The scheme will start as a voluntary one and I believe that people will enrol for cards because it will make day-to-day life easier in all sorts of ways - opening a bank account, for example. Any decision on compulsion for British citizens is many years away and would depend, in practice, on popular support and a new Act of Parliament. My own view is that ID cards will have to prove themselves by their utility, rather than people being forced to have them.”
In answer to a question on who will have access to audit trail data, Mr Hall replied: “The audit trail is an important protection so citizens can see who has accessed their record and when. But, on the other hand, I understand there is also a concern that it could be used to infer something about a pattern of activities. However, the Identity Cards Act forbids the provision of the audit log to private sector organisations and it could only be seen by the police or security services in the case of serious crimes. I should also note that most uses of the card will probably not involve accessing the National Identity Register and would therefore not create an audit trail transaction.”
A full transcript of the web chat is available at: http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page10969.asp