Government must maintain links with other industries and suppliers to ensure that ID cards are successfully implemented, says John Higgins.
In its submissions to the Home Office and the Home Affairs Select Committee, Intellect has argued for early supplier involvement in the delivery of a national identity card scheme.
This project will only succeed if government maintains its open dialogue with industry and engages suppliers effectively.
The project must be driven forward in line with initiatives such as the e-government programme and the NHS IT strategy, and conform to anti-terrorism and privacy legislation.
The industry can meet the technological challenges but the right technical solutions will only be developed and implemented through open dialogue.
The proposals must address the perspectives of citizens as consumers and taxpayers:
- The benefits of the card, which must be tangible and compelling
- Their trust in government
- The security of personal data
- The openness and visibility of government intentions, to overcome negative perceptions.
The trial being undertaken by the Passport Service clearly points to a programme which will facilitate this type of dialogue, as do the approaches outlined by the Home Office.
It is widely recognised that a universal, easily-recognised identity document that can be trusted by all, and which would involve counter-fraud measures, would be of benefit in the fight against crime.
However, it is also recognised that an ID card could create new vulnerabilities.
An architecture should be implemented which allows security schemes to evolve on the card to combat increasing levels of risk. Such an approach, in turn, relies on the quality of data available.
The design of a central database and the type of information stored will depend on the precise characteristics of the scheme. It must safeguard the use and sharing of personal data and reduce the scale and risk of the project.
The government should develop a specification and technical framework for suppliers with open published standards and interoperability. To deliver a sound, robust system decisions must be made about:
- The manufacture, issuing, delivery and reissue of lost cards
- How the database would be protected from terrorist attack
- How, when and why ID would be checked, and how long checks should take
- How ID cards of missing individuals would be treated
- What would happen to cards when individuals die.
Only through a comprehensive understanding of the industry, its capacity and its capabilities will the government be in a position to develop an ID card scheme capable of delivering on its promises.
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John Higgins is director general of suppliers association Intellect
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