August 04, 2006 | Glyn Wintle

ID card - Inconsistent approach to scientific evidence

The Select Committee on Science and Technology recently published a report entitled Identity Card Technologies: Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence. Many quotable phrases from this report reflect what NO2ID have been saying about the ID card scheme. We are disappointed that two years after the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into identity cards the problems regarding clarity have not been resolved. We urge the Home Office to address these issues immediately. (Para 47), confusion ... inconsistent use of it as evidence (Para 88), We are surprised and concerned that the Home Office has already chosen the biometrics that it intends to use before finishing the process of gathering evidence. (Para 93), We are sceptical about the validity of costs produced at this early stage. (Para 105), It is important that the impact of a politically-imposed deadline will not override the impact of scientific advice or evidence on the readiness of the scheme and we seek reassurance from the Government on this point. (Para 120), an inconsistent approach to scientific advice and evidence. (Para 144),

We have also identified weaknesses in the use of scientific advice and evidence. We are disappointed with the lack of transparency surrounding the incorporation of scientific advice, the procurement process and the ICT system. Potential suppliers are confused about the extent to which the scheme will be prescriptive and when technical specifications will be released. Whilst the Home Office has attempted to consult the wider community, stakeholders have complained that consultations have been unduly limited in scope and their objectives have been unclear. As a result, the wider community does not have the level of confidence in the scheme that could reasonably be expected at this stage. Whilst the Home Office has determined some aspects of the scheme such as the biometrics, it has left other aspects such as the structure of the database undetermined. Its decisions demonstrate an inconsistent approach to scientific evidence and we are concerned that choices regarding biometric technology have preceded trials. Given that extensive trialling is still to take place, we are sceptical about the validity of costs produced at this stage. We note the danger of cost ceilings driving the choice of technology and call for the Home Office to publish a breakdown of the technology costs following the procurement process.

Select Committee on Science and Technology - Sixth Report - Summary

As always the place to go for the full story on the ID Cards and the database state is NO2ID