Friday, 12 June 2009

Why not write to Alan Johnson?

The new Home Secretary Alan Johnson is now in charge of the ID card system and National Identity Register.If you feel strongly about ID cards and the NIR, why not write to him and express your concerns regarding the scheme? If you are able to write, it is much more effective if you write in your own words.

Write to the Alan Johnson at:
Home Office
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Or e-mail to:

DRAFT LETTER (to copy if desperate!)

Dear Mr Johnson,

I am concerned that in the current financial circumstances and extremely high level of debt the government intends to spend at least £5.5 billion on the ID card scheme. In addition, there will be the cost of the supporting infrastructure to process the cards, scanners etc, at both a national and local level.I am also concerned that I may be heavily fined if I do not inform the authorities of changes in my personal details.

The National Identity Register will contain more than 50 items of my personal information. The government record on keeping such information secure is highly compromised so I am worried about identity fraud.

I will be given a National Identity Registration Number (NIRN) which will become an 'identity hub' and we have seen how the incidence of identity theft has increased in both the USA and Australia where identity hubs of a single main number have been introduced.

There are many reports (some by your own government) that say that the cards will neither prevent benefit fraud nor terrorism so the intrusion into my civil liberties is even more unnecessary. Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are opposed to the NIR and ID cards as are many members of the public.

I do hope you reconsider the introduction of such an expensive database which worries so many people with its Orwellian overtones.

Yours sincerely,

Here are some suggestions that you may like to use to help compose your own letter. 

1. National Cost: concern about the government’s own forecast cost of £5.5 billion for the implementation of ID cards which excludes the additional cost of card readers / scanners and other infrastructure to support the cards. Particularly in the current financial climate and high levels of government debt.
2. Personal Cost: concerns about the personal cost estimated at somewhere in the region of £90 together with fines of up to £1000 for failing to keep information up to date thus including the ease with which otherwise law-abiding members of the public could be criminalised for pure administrative errors.
3. Security: concerns about government’s ability to keep secure the up to 50 items of personal data that will be held on the National Identity Register particularly in the light of recent data losses.
4.Increasing ease of identity theft: concerns that one National Identity Registration Number (NIRN) will increase the ease with which identities can be stolen. On top of this, the presumption of accuracy of the NIR itself will make it far more difficult to prove one’s own identity once stolen.
5. Terrorism and Fraud: concerns that many reports (some commissioned by government itself) state that the cards will neither prevent fraud nor terrorism therefore the stated benefit when measured against the cost to my privacy and civil liberties is not proven and therefore is unacceptable.
6. Conservative and Lib Dem opposition: opposition is fuelled by an awareness that an ever increasing proportion of the public are against the NIR and the ID card scheme and will have a bearing on the way in which the public vote at the next election.
7. False positives: increasing the amount of biometric data held on databases like the NIR and the DNA database has been shown to, rather than increase the likelihood of detection of criminals / terrorists, increase the number of “false positives”. It will also result in every member of the public being a “suspect” and at risk of being convicted based purely upon biometric data whose accuracy is far less than the “beyond reasonable doubt” level of criminal responsibility would normally allow.

And wouldn’t it be great if you spread the word and encouraged some friends to write too!?

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