UK national ID cards database goes live

The database that underpins the UK's controversial ID card scheme is up and running, according to the government's identity commissioner Joseph Pilling.

The database that underpins the UK's controversial ID card scheme is up and running, according to the government's identity commissioner Joseph Pilling.

He told the home affairs committee that 538 people were on the national identity register a week ago, according to the BBC.

Pilling, who will oversee the database, has been appointed to head the government's independent identity watchdog with a staff of four and an annual budget of £560,000.

He is to report to home secretary Alan Johnson and has been charged with providing "public information" about the ID card scheme and how it is working.

Pilling said his role was not to judge whether the scheme itself was a good or bad.

The Home Office said Pilling has been appointed to act on behalf of the public to ensure the information held on the database is accurate and secure.

However, Pilling has undertaken to investigate concerns that because the ID card scheme is voluntary it would be possible for people to register using false identities.

British citizens in Manchester can now apply for ID cards, with the scheme set to be introduced in the rest of the North West before the national roll-out.

From 2011, British citizens aged 16 or over who apply for a passport will automatically be registered on the national identity database.

Pilling said he has signed up to the job for 18 months, with his future role depending on the outcome of the general election.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have both said they will scrap the ID card scheme if they come to power, even though it is now voluntary.

But civil liberties campaigners say it is not the ID card scheme, but the identity register that poses the biggest threat to privacy and security of personal information.

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