Change of Identity

Those of you who follow NO2ID, arguably the most successful civil society pressure group of the past generation, may be aware that National Coordinator Phil Booth has just stepped down from the role after six years leading the organisation.

Phil’s quite a remarkable individual, both physically and intellectually a very big guy, and has achieved many remarkable things in his time with NO2ID. He grew the group’s membership into one of the largest and well-connected lobby groups in the country; established a personal network of peers, politicians, civil servants, technology experts, industry leaders and academics; and successfully beat down one of the last government’s cornerstone manifesto commitments with just a tiny budget and his own undrainable energy reserves.

What’s most remarkable about Phil has been his ability to engage across the entire spectrum throughout that time. He recognised the need to work with everyone from the ministers pushing the programme, through the suppliers pushing the technology, to the hard core of ID Card opponents who pledged civil disobedience rather than compliance. He remained courteous and focussed even at times when the government was engaged in some very underhand tactics to destabilise both his, and NO2ID’s, position.

Of course Phil would be mortified to be solely credited with NO2ID’s success, and the power and passion of that body has to be applauded, but there’s little doubt that he has been instrumental in getting us to where we are today. I very much hope that once he’s taken a break we’ll see him back in the ID space, perhaps this time designing the new citizen-centric, privacy friendly authentication schemes that will emerge from Whitehall over the next few years?