ID cards will not hold DNA records

The Home Office has given assurances today that its £550m-a-year ID cards scheme will not be used to record DNA records of the...

The Home Office has given assurances today that its £550m-a-year ID cards scheme will not be used to record DNA records of the population.

Home Office minister, Des Browne, said the government had categorically ruled out storing DNA records of the population on the central population database.

The assurance came as the minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Nationality launched a robust attack against civil liberties campaigners, accusing them of basing their arguments of myths rather than hard facts.

"The argument goes that this a creeping function of the police state and changes the relationship between the state and the individual. But this is a conclusion, it is not a fact. I have yet to see the facts that support this," he said.

The Information stored on the central population register will be information that is already in government computer systems or in the public domain, and will not pose a threat to personal privacy, he said, arguing that the public was happy for the police to keep fingerprint databases.

ID cards had won strong support from the police, from the British Medical Association and employers, and were the single best solution for tackling crime, illegal working, and fair access to government services, he said.

"We have never argued that ID cards will be a panacea for terrorism. The fact is that 35% of terrorist activity involves the use of false identities," Browne said. "If we can provide people with a secure ID that must act as some interdict against terrorism."

The Home Office had met the concerns raised from consultation exercises in the Identity Card Bill published this week, Browne said. It had spelled out the purposes of the scheme more clearly, and had extended the powers of the National ID card commissioner to oversee the scheme.

Browne said that the Home Office had also addressed concerns raised by the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, who questioned whether the scheme will comply with data protection principles.

"We are satisfied that this legislation will comply with the existing data protection legislation," he said.

He reiterated arguments made by the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, that many of the costs of the ID card programme would have to be incurred anyway under European plans to introduce biometric passports.

Read more on IT risk management