[Dave Birch] Just a quick reminder about the Digital Identity Forum’s joint seminar with EEMA at the British Computer Society in London on January 29th. This seminar, sponsored by Consult Hyperion, will be looking at the business opportunities that might arise from the introduction of the UK national identity card. You can register for the seminar at the EEMA web site. The event will be chaired by John Elliott of Consult Hyperion, who has considerable international experience of designing national ID card schemes. With speakers and panelists including

  • Meg Hillier, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Identity.
  • Martin Linda, Siemens PLC.
  • Frank Layman, Federal Civil Service Information and Communication Technology department, Belgium.
  • Andy Smith, Identity and Passport Service.
  • David Blanco, Tractis, Spain.
  • Colin Whittaker, APACS.
  • Me.

it should be a useful day out and will hopefully lead to some genuine innovation. Whatever your opinions about ID cards — and I’ve made mine plain — the fact is that the first ones have already been issued. Since the UK scheme is now here, it makes sense for business to look at the opportunities that have arisen around ID cards in other markets, for both online and offline use, in the public and private sectors.

Enabling legislation for the British national identity card was passed under the Identity Cards Act 2006. The cards will have a lesser role than the database they are linked to, which is known as the National Identity Register (NIR). The Act specifies fifty categories of information that the NIR can hold on each citizen including up to 10 fingerprints, digitised facial scan current and past UK and overseas places of residence of all residents of the UK throughout their lives and indices to other Government databases — which would allow them to be connected.

Over a period of time, public opinion, as measured by opinion polls, appears to have shifted away from support for the scheme towards opposition. This appears to have become more of a concern since the disclosure of the loss of 15 million records by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

However, this could change if a commercial and business value of this card could be established, what opportunities are there for this unique and accredited form of identity to be exploited?

It is rumoured that there are 250 commercial applications spawned from the introduction of the Belgian Identity Card from car insurance to Access and Identity Management (AIM), learn how some of these were introduced and of their success.

This one day seminar will be invaluable for delegates who wish to learn of the commercial opportunities that the British national identity card will provide. It is aimed at planning, strategy, and development personnel who have an influence on policy, systems and the impact on commercial and business applications.

In the present economic climate, you must be fast to exploit opportunities for improving business efficiency and commercial advantage. You also need to be “right first time” but the scope of technology is huge, if you are to be first, what better forum to look for advice. It is simply an opportunity too good to be missed

This seminar offers the opportunity to hear from and talk with key representatives from Government, Suppliers and Users in a neutral forum.

These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


  1. Anybody who thinks ID/NIS is just another business opportunity is about as morally sensible as the people who thought the same about making money out of shipping Jews and other ‘undesirables’ off to the camps.
    Get real, this is nothing but a state engineered ‘land grab’ of people’s personal lives and privacy and no one with any understanding of this nation’s history, struggle for justice and liberty, etc. should be cosying up to it, let alone trying to make money from it.
    Is there any spine left here, or are we just a bunch of selfish, greedy, amoral, frightened idiots who deserve what we get?

  2. This seminar is not about making money out of building the ID card, nor is it about whether the ID card scheme is any good or not. It is aimed at businesses who recognise that there is going to be a scheme and that they may be able to use it to provide products or services. This is not a moral issue: this is about developing prudent corporate roadmaps.
    Nevertheless, thank you for the frank comments and appropriate links David.

  3. David, with respect, everything is a moral issue.
    Anything we do without conscious reference to our moral framework is done either because we already know where that action stands in respect of our moral position, or because we have wilfully chosen to avoid the embarrassment/restriction we believe would ensue if we were to test the action against our moral framework, i.e. we want to do it and to hell with the morals and the consequences.

  4. Dave, I’ve got a bad feeling about the 29 January agenda, http://www.eema.org/downloads/ukrig/jan09/national_idcard_agenda_web.pdf
    Let’s say the doors open, the coffee is good, Mr Elliott does an excellent warm-up, the introductions go well, with delegates from 30 prospective suppliers and users, and Mr Dean makes it clear that eema is a pan-European Intellect. So far so good.
    Ms Hillier does her piece and someone asks “when will the NIS be deployed?”. Main roll-out starts 2012, geared to passport renewals, 10-year passports, by 2022 all passport-holders have an ID card, i.e. about 80% of the population. So the opportunity to do business is 13 years away if IPS stick to their present timetable. Consternation among some delegates, Ms Hillier can’t stay for coffee after all, she’s called away to the House, the case has just been dropped against Damian Green …
    Delegates continue to ponder timescales while Mr Leyman tries to interest them in the Belgian civil service. No-one can remember whether there is a Belgian government yet, a year after their last general election, or whether it is now two countries, divided by a single ID card.
    Phew! Thank goodness for the panel discussion on banks as users of ID card services.
    One delegate asks a panellist to comment on Ms Hillier’s claim that ID cards will make it easier to open a bank account – how many banks have confirmed that? Panel looks mystified for a moment, then says “none”.
    Another delegate says “OK, never mind opening accounts, but ID cards will be used in every banking transaction, won’t they?” Panel looks non-plussed, then says “no, the Crosby forum on public/private identity management said they weren’t interested in the Home Office ID cards scheme either for banking or for retailing, perhaps Mr Birch would like to comment further, he was there, assisting on the Crosby forum”, http://dematerialisedid.com/BCSL/Crosby.html
    Several delegates leave and one of the remaining ones says “OK, so in 13 years time we won’t get any business related to banking transactions or to people buying things in shops, but surely we can be involved in the airline industry?” Unfortunately, as you know, the airline industry has said no, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/2236720/Airlines-anger-over-ID-cards.html
    One of the two remaining delegates asks about the state benefits system. No again. No ID cards will be needed to claim benefits. How do we know that? You told us, Dave, you were there, http://www.idealgovernment.com/index.php/blog/comments/1589/ comment #7. And who told you? Meg Hillier.
    An increasingly befuddled delegate then asks “what about health service applications?” No, the Department for health has confirmed that no discussions whatever have taken place between them and IPS on this subject, same reference, http://www.idealgovernment.com/index.php/blog/comments/1589/
    Time for lunch. And how!
    Then Mr Smith gets up to speak about interoperability and a clued up delegate who has just had to eat lunch for 12 says “yes, that’s the Government Gateway, isn’t it, the system whose source code was left on a USB stick in a car park in Cannock, the system you expect us Europeans to share our data on, well no way, José!”, http://dematerialisedid.com/BCSL/Hall.html
    Mr Blanco’s talk on eID in online applications in Spain is well received, even if it has nothing to do with the UK, and then you speak for an hour on disruptive innovation, brilliantly as ever, and the only other people left in the room, the cleaners, wonder how such an astute businessman found himself saying things like “this seminar … is aimed at businesses who recognise that there is going to be a scheme and that they may be able to use it to provide products or services”, i.e. no-one.
    The whole thing smells like TAURUS. You remember TAURUS. You were there. Not at the Stock Exchange. At the Bank. Working on CGO. The project that worked. Unlike TAURUS. Unlike the NIS.
    Let’s hope I’m wrong.

  5. “The whole thing smells like TAURUS. You remember TAURUS. You were there. Not at the Stock Exchange. At the Bank. Working on CGO. The project that worked.”
    Thanks for the reference David, I’m too modest to mention this kind of thing!

  6. “David, with respect, everything is a moral issue.”
    I do not believe that ID cards are morally wrong, so I’m not quite sure how to respond, except to say that if I were an accountant who believed that income tax is morally wrong, I would still advise my customers on tax strategy.

  7. I don’t believe ‘identity cards’ per se are morally wrong either; but they certainly beg major questions about motives, context, and practice.
    ‘ID cards’ in this instance are nothing more than a symptom of political (and possibly commercial), thinking. It is that thinking; what lies behind it and what it will lead to, that matters.
    Nothing that we have seen indicates that the ID/NIR scheme is anything more than a shabby, ill thought through, attempt to be seen to be doing something, AND a ‘land grab’ by the state of personal/private everyday lawful life.

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