12 May 2010

For immediate release

Press release

The Coalition Agreement between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats published today states that:

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion. This will include: -

The Scheme has been lurching from redesign to redesign, from one claimed purpose to another over the past five years, and the LSE Identity Project warmly endorses the decision to finally scrap this ineffective, misinformed and expensive folly.

Dr Gus Hosein says, “It has taken a while, but politicians have finally appreciated that these proposals for identity cards were not going to provide an effective solution to issues of identity and identification in the UK. This new consensus over identity cards was hard won and was never inevitable. Some within Government went after us in ways that threatened our jobs and reputations and yet, despite these attacks, they failed to convince ordinary citizens that their approach to identity management was a good idea”.

Dr Edgar A. Whitley adds, “It has taken many people many years to convince policy–makers of what we hope will be a new and accepted wisdom: identity policy is hard, technology policy is challenging, and berating experts who disagree with you is not a good idea. The challenges for an effective identity policy, especially for online interactions, have not gone away and the LSE Identity Project looks forward to working with the new government in this important area, contributing its international expertise in identity policy to the development of effective, citizen-centric identity assurance”.

Notes to editors

1. Edgar and Gus have recently published the book “Global challenges for identity policies” where they analyse the UK’s Identity Scheme in a global context, see http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=281176 for more details

2. For LSE research and reports on the Identity Cards Scheme see http://identityproject.lse.ac.uk

3. In 2005 the LSE Identity Project published its 300+ page assessment of the proposals for Identity Cards (http://identityproject.lse.ac.uk/identityreport.pdf). This assessment raised concerns about:

    a. the multiple purposes of the Scheme;

    b. whether the technical design would prove effective;

    c. whether identity cards would benefit business;

    d. whether UK citizens would accept the proposals.

Despite having spent millions of pounds on the Scheme, only around 10,000 UK nationals currently hold a card.

4. For clarification of what is meant by “the next generation of biometric passports”, refer to the LSE Election Blog posting “Identity cards, identity databases, biometric passports and compulsion: Some clarifications” http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/election/?p=1244