Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Does Scotland Need ID Cards?


Today the Scottish Government are debating the requirement for identity cards.

The LibDems have been vocal about this issue.  In 2005 the SNP joined with the Libdems against the creation of ID cards so what has changed in the past 10 years?

Since being elected to power the SNP has been quietly gathering information on Scotland’s population; much of it under the umbrella of ‘protection of children’, yet everyone’s NHS records are now on a government database.  Why that is necessary I’ve no idea as medics don’t seem to be able to access them.  Surely I’m not the only person to attend a hospital appointment only to have to give the specialist my medical history as ’ no records were available’.  A couple of times when I questioned why they were not accessible through the (compulsory) computer which sits on every NHS desk, I was told the system was inadequate.

The SNP’s policy of placing every child’s personal information on a database is abhorred by many (including myself) but it feels as if the many protestors are being treated with disdain.

John Swinney said on STV recently:

 “We prize our freedom and our privacy in Scotland. Quite rightly, we guard it ferociously and are vigilant about protecting our personal information.
“I can re-state our commitment today that under this Scottish Government there will never be ID cards or anything remotely resembling them.
“We cherish personal privacy and will protect it. Indeed, it was this government that took the initiative in 2009 to set up an expert group to develop Identity Management and Privacy Principles — principles published in 2010, and updated in 2014.
“We will continue to lead good practice and act in a way that is consistent with these principles. We are not and we will not create a new database. We will not be sharing health records.
“We will listen carefully to all consultation responses. And we will act in a manner that is consistent with our long-standing principles in protecting personal data. Decisions will only be taken after full scrutiny by Parliament of any eventual proposals. That is the principle upon which our government is run and will remain so.”
Unfortunately I don’t believe Mr Swinney on this occasion.  The SNP’s disregard of opinion about their ‘named person’ section of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act has greatly reduced my trust in the Scottish Government. Nor do I believe our NHS details will not be sold to the higher bidder.

Surely if there is a need for a national ID card it could be along the lines of the basic cards such as Student IDs or YoungScot IDs, but with using iris recognition to deter fraud.  The technology is there if the desire is strong enough.  Indeed a national ID card may be sensible in this day and age, but one which holds all your personal data?  That is an invasion of personal privacy.

I’ll be recording the debate this afternoon.  It should be interesting.


Joe Public said...

Politicians are never happy unless they're interfering.

It's their raison d'etre.

They think they know best; but becoming an MP / MSP etc is one of the few jobs paying ~£80k + expenses + perks that requires no qualifications whatsoever.

Demetrius said...

Then there is the delicate question of whether the recorded medical history is accurate. We have done our own medical records and carry them with us given our problems giving both the history and the key details, even with a photo. We have spent a lot of time kindly explaining to medic's that their own records are skimpy, inadequate and sometimes plain wrong. The present situation at all levels is a shocking mess and probably kills a good many people. Yet out there, I know, are commercial options which are more robust and not difficult to manage.

subrosa said...

This is a danger to our general privacy Joe.

subrosa said...

Demetrius, that is one of the most sensible actions I’ve heard for some time.

I shall spent the next few weeks doing my own health CV.

English Pensioner said...

Once you've all been persuaded to have an identity card, how long do you think it will be before you have one with built in rfid, the technology now being used on touch credit and debit cards, and also on my pensioner's bus pass.
Then they will know your every movement in crowded areas as the range of the detectors can be 20 or 30 yards. All in the interests of your safety!

John M said...

Not wishing to sound unsympathetic, but you all voted for them. You're getting what you voted for!

JRB said...

There is something very worrying happening within the Scottish Government.
There has evolved an element that is compulsively determined to exert an overbearing controlling influence and oversight over every aspect of our day to day lives.

We have seen this already with the dreadfully misnamed ‘Getting It Right For every Child’ legislation – but that is merely the first step in a far wider range of powers the Scottish Government intend to ‘introduce’ – or should I say ‘abuse’.

The National Health Service Central Register sound like an innocuous piece of administrative legislation designed to improve medical records throughout the NHS – but that barely scratches the surface of what this BigData system will hold – and most worrying of all is the list of 98 organisations that will have free access to our personal data.
From such diverse organisations as ‘The Scottish Charity Regulator’ to ‘Quality Meat Scotland’ all will be able to view the data of each and everyone of us.

To see the complete list visit =

It has taken the Scottish Government a while – but 1984 is coming to us all!

Unknown said...

This is a very bad idea for a data base.Like all data bases ,especially government ones, it will leak like a sieve.And accuracy? a joke.
And what justification is there for
the organisations to be allowed to look at "our" data, and what will it cost us to look at and/or correct
the data mistakes, and there will be some ! This will be a gun pointed at our collective heads,Just think of the people who will access this, a mistake made in the data will be incredibly hard to change,and unless you check your data regularly, you will not even know if it is wrong.
This is a very bad idea,of which the Stasi would be proud.
Does any one know who was responsible for dreaming it up?

subrosa said...

EP I think that technology is everywhere these days. Was wondering if it’s on NI cards issued in recent years. Anyone know?

subrosa said...

True John M, but we can pressurise them to change. It’s too small a country here for politicians to ignore their electorate.

subrosa said...

A while JRB? Only since 2007. That’s not a long time to build systems which views every aspect of our lives.

subrosa said...

Ah Danny, good point there. Of course if you mention leaks then they’re denied.

As we all know there are possibly thousands of leaks from governmental databases annually but they are hushed up.

Whilst writing the post I was searching for information about the group who run the NHS database but couldn’t find any. Strange.

Sheila said...

I'm a bit out of touch these days but these links may help a bit:

Sheila said...

Meant to say,I don't know who Alice is but she does an excellent job of keeping up with these complicated and inter-related issues.

Here are her posts tagged databases for starters:

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