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Government appoints identity commissioner to monitor ID cards scheme

Warwick Ashford

The government has appointed the UK's first identity commissioner in a move to ensure the information held on the controversial National Identity Register is accurate and secure.

Joseph Pilling is to take up the role in October and will also monitor how the planned associated ID cards are put to use by public and private organisations.

Home secretary Alan Johnson said the public has the right to expect the National Identity Service to be run to the highest standards.

"The identity commissioner will champion their interests, providing a strong and independent voice, holding the Identity and Passport Service to account and ensuring information collected under the service is kept securely," he said.

The security of the planned ID cards has been challenged, but the government has rejected claims that the cards are easily hacked and cloned.

Pillion said he plans to be an independent voice and work towards safeguarding the public's privacy and identity rights.

The identity commissioner will report to the home secretary at least once a year on the National Identity Service and the report will be put before parliament.

Pilling was permanent secretary to the Northern Ireland Office from 1997 to 2005. Since then, he has been involved in reviews of senior appointments in the Church of England, the Civil Aviation Authority, the 30-year rule on the release of government information and the governance of London University.


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