Saturday, 19 September 2009

Impartiality - subject to restrictions

Sir Joseph Pilling has been appointed as the first identity commissioner, responsible for overseeing the ID card scheme. See here.

Alan Johnson said that the role was totally independent and entailed representing the public:

"The identity commissioner will champion their interests, providing a strong and independent voice, holding the Identity and Passport Service to account and ensuring information collected under the Service is kept securely."

Confusingly Sir Joseph will not be concerned with ID cards for foreign nationals – this is under the jurisdiction of the information commissioner and the chief inspector for the UK Border Agency. So there will be one commissioner for us and another one for them.

"He will also deliver independent scrutiny of the uses to which identity cards are put by public authorities and private organisations."

Phil Booth of NO2ID commented:

"The role is designed to be toothless and irrelevant. And to appoint a time-served securocrat to the post virtually guarantees that the one power he has - to comment on the scheme - will never embarrass his former masters."

"How can a man who has spent his entire career being the soul of discretion in various departments of state be expected to act as a whistleblower?"

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