HMRC scandal could hit ID card plans

HMRC scandal could hit ID card plans

The data loss scandal could knock confidence in the UK ID card scheme

The HMRC incident may harm the ID cards proposals because the government’s perceived inability to safeguard sensitive data is likely to further damage confidence in the already controversial scheme.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne was quick to use the incident to fuel opposition to the project. “Does [Alistair Darling] agree that today must mark the final blow to the government’s ambition to create a national ID card? They simply cannot be trusted with people’s personal information,” he said.

In response, Darling argued, “The key thing about identity cards is, of course, that they will mean that information is protected by personal biometric information. The problem at present is that, because we do not have that protection, information is much more vulnerable than it should be.”

This argument failed to convince opposition leader David Cameron, who argued that people “will find it truly bizarre” if the incident does not cause the Prime Minister to rethink the ID cards scheme.

Mike Davis of analyst Ovum said that the events could knock public confidence in the ID cards proposals due to the government’s inability to put proper processes in place. “This is fundamental stuff, the worry here is not about technology,” he added.

Louise Townsend, senior associate at law firm Pinsent Masons, felt that the government had progressed too far with its plans to call a halt to the scheme. “But the government will have to be very careful how it implements [ID cards] now. It must demonstrate that it is applying proper security procedures,” she added.