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The Identity Project

Strategic Action Plan Initial Response

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LSE Identity Project authors say government has taken the first step towards common sense but still risks total failure

One of the authors of LSE’s Identity Project has responded to the government’s Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme (published 19 December).

Dr Edgar A Whitley, research co-ordinator for the LSE Identity Project, said: 'The Action Plan represents a total rethink of the original plans that were proposed by the Home Office. These original plans had been criticized by the LSE Identity Project as being too complex, technically unsafe, overly prescriptive and lacking a foundation of public trust and confidence. Despite their earlier hostility, the government now clearly agrees with us and the LSE team welcomes the marked shift in the government’s position that this Action Plan indicates.

'However, whilst the government claims that the Action Plan will help ensure that the Scheme ‘delivers the best return on investment’, it raises new challenges for the introduction of effective identity management plans in the UK.'

He added that the Science and Technology Select Committee had warned the Home Office against being driven by political timetables, yet noted that the first ID cards will be issued by the 2009 deadline promised by the Prime Minister.

Simon Davies, a visiting fellow of the Information Systems group at LSE, and director of Privacy International, was one of the Identity Project's mentors. He observed: 'The original plans involved building a single, secure database for all the identity information that was being recorded. Whilst the new scheme distributes this information around a number of existing databases, what is not clear is whether these existing databases will have the necessary security to ensure that this personal data cannot be compromised. While the government has done the right thing by acknowledging the vast flaws in its original proposals it now faces an almost impossible challenge to build trust. The scheme has become poisoned inside and outside Whitehall.'

To read the LSE Identity Project report, and subsequent papers and discussions, see

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Page last updated 20 December 2006
Copyright LSE Department of Information Systems 2005