Would you trust identity papers/card from this system?

I have received a guest blog from “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” on what happened when he recently tried to renew his passport. I have seen a similar complaints from, for example, a former midwife and child care professional wishing to help organise childrens’ activities in local villages near where she has lived and worked for forty year – she has lost count of the number of crminal records bureau checks she has been asked to submit to.

Dear Minister,
I’m in the process of renewing my passport but I am a total loss to understand or believe the hoops I am being asked to jump through.

How is it that Bert Smith of T.V. Rentals Basingstoke has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a satellite dish from them back in 1994, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was born and on what date?

How come that nice West African immigrant chappy who comes round every Thursday night with his DVD rentals van can tell me every film or video I have had out since he started his business up eleven years ago, yet you still want me to remind you of my last three jobs, two of which were with contractors working for the government?

How come the T.V. detector van can tell if my T.V. is on, what channel I am watching and whether I have paid my licence or not, and yet if I win the government run lottery they have no idea I have won or where I am and will keep the bloody money to themselves if I fail to claim in good time.
Do your people do this by hand?

You have my birth date on numerous files you hold on me, including the one with all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30-odd years. It’s on my health insurance card, my driver’s licence, on the last four passports I’ve had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the planes and boats over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms that are done every ten years and the electoral registration forms I have to complete, by law, every time our lords and masters are up for re-election.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, I was born in Maidenhead on the 4th of March 1957, my mother’s name is Mary, her maiden name was Reynolds, my father’s name is Robert, and I’d be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and the day I die!

I apologise Minister. I’m obviously not myself this morning. But between you and me, I have simply had enough! You mail the application to my house, then you ask me for my address. What is going on? Do you have a gang of Neanderthals working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don’t want to activate the Fifth Reich for God’s sake! I just want to go and park my weary backside on a sunny, sandy beach for a couple of week’s well-earned rest away from all this crap.

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to back to Salisbury and get another copy of my birth certificate because you lost the last one. AND to the tune of 60 quid! What a racket THAT is!! Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day? But nooooo, that’d be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the place like chickens with our heads cut off, then find some tosser to confirm that it’s really me on the goddamn picture – you know… the one where we’re not allowed to smile in case we look as if we are enjoying the process!
Hey, you know why we can’t smile? ‘Cause we’re totally jacked off!

I served in the armed forces for more than 25 years including over ten years at the Ministry of Defence in London. I have had security clearances which allowed me to sit in the Cabinet Office, five seats away from the Prime Minister while he was being briefed on the first Gulf War and I have been doing volunteer work for the British Red Cross ever since I left the Services. However, I have to get someone ‘important’ to verify who I am — you know, someone like my doctor…
who, before he got his medical degree 6 months ago WAS LIVING IN PAKISTAN…

Yours sincerely,
An Irate British Citizen

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Our identity would be reliable if the government and banks make signature and PIN systems reliable as proposed on website www.xwave.co.uk

Proposed KEY and PIN system could be treated like international ID card since it will personalise signature and PIN to the right individual in any country in the world.

Comment from Philip Virgo: GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) will still rule the world.

It's a very funny letter but clearly must be a spoof as it is full of inaccuracies - e.g. you don't have to submit your birth certificate when renewing your passport.

From Philip Virgo: "Disgusted" is well past his three score years and ten and might well have let his passport lapse - being too busy playing on-line computer games with his grand-children and blogging and tweeting under different aliases. On the Internet no-one knows you are a geriatric delinquent.

Maybe I am taking this too seriously, after all however inaccurate the letter it could be held to encapsulate a greater truth of government inefficiency. But is it entirely fair to publish it under the heading "Would you trust identity papers/card from this system?" as if it was literally true when you seem now to be admitting that you knew the identity of the author and that it is not? I first came across it as a chain email. Realising it had to be a spoof I checked it out on Snopes and other hoax websites but found no mention. Googling the letter itself I discovered that it had "gone viral", being reproduced on literally thousands of blogs including ones associated with horse-riding, vintage cars and the police! Only one of the sample I checked suggested that it was not a genuine letter but a good joke. Does it matter? I think it does, firstly because some comments indicate people being quite nervous about applying for a passport because of the apparent difficulties, and secondly, and more seriously, I found one foreign website (actually Chinese) and there may well be others, using the letter as anti-British propaganda, an example of British government "hypocrisy", presumably because they criticise lack of democracy in other countries but make it so difficult for their own citizens to obtain a passport.

Comment from Philip VIrgo: spoof it may be - joke it was not. The author was very angry about the long-standing weaknesses of the identity systems of the UK - of which the passport system is but one example. He did himself have very high security clearances which were never re-used. Instead he was required to use credentials with little or no credibility. I have just, today, come out of a meeting on the issues of identity governance and interoperability which indicated how wedded those "in authority" are to paperchases of little or no value to the types of transaction for which individuals might need a "trust" credential: e.g I would trust this person with my life or my car keys but not with my wife or my money.