The Scottish Identity Card Scandal:
Campaign News - 2008

Scottish ID Card

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11.  Edinburgh Evening News - Letters, 7 Jan. 08 - Here's your ticket to ID cards for OAPs, Dr John Welford

I NOTE that in your piece about the new ticket machines to be installed on the Lothian Buses fleet you refer to the new free national pensioner' cards as "concessionary travel cards" (News, January 4).

This is quite untrue. The cards are also not "bus passes", as commonly referred to by pensioners. In reality they are multi-purpose entitlement cards, which in other countries would be referred to as "identity cards".

The truth is that Scottish pensioners have been issued with identity cards, but remain totally unaware of it.

12.  Peace News 2494, February 2008 - The Scottish ID cards scandal, Dr John Welford

For the past two years Labour's Scottish Executive in Edinburgh has carried out an ID card experiment on the million elderly and disabled people of Scotland. Deeming this a success, Labour is now rolling the thing out in England.

Most will be familiar with Transport for London's Oystercard - a chipped "smartcard" that can track individual journeys. The Labour government has taken the Oystercard idea one crucial step further - by turning it into a full-blown multi-purpose identity card.

Unfortunately, they have decided not to tell anyone about this. Well, why risk frightening people! So the elderly were carefully led to believe that they were merely being issued with a new type of bus pass. Indeed, a much improved bus pass, because it would allow free travel anywhere in Scotland.

But the shocking truth is that Scottish pensioners were grossly misled. They were not issued with bus passes, but with one of the most intrusive identity cards to be found on the planet, a card which threatens to bring about cradle-to-grave surveillance.

The advanced database and identification technology involved in the cards would be forbidden in Germany, a country which actually uses ID cards.

This represents a massive scandal, but to date few know about it. With similar cards about to surface in England (on 1 April) it can only be a matter of time before the news breaks.

13.  The Big Issue (Scotland), March 6-12, 2008 - Identity Crisis, Adam Forrest

Civil rights groups slam proof-of-age plans as 'back door' to ID cards

Efforts to push through a proof-of-age card for young people in Scotland have been slammed by civil liberties campaigners as the introduction of ID cards "by the back door"...

John Welford, of campaign group NO2ID, said: "It’s a Trojan horse. An entitlement card in any other country is an ID card, and in other European countries, they are much more wary of the databases behind it. It is an opportunity to get young people into a database system. The government are sleepwalking us into a surveillance society of the worst kind. It's ID cards by the back door."

Human Rights lawyer John Scott added: "Some people have been accused of paranoia, but there is evidence that travel and entitlement cards have expanded beyond their stated limited purpose.

"Any proof-of-age scheme for everyone under 26 is potentially a way of softening people up for ID cards. It would be like trialling the poll tax in Scotland, with young people as the target audience.”...

Green Party MSP Robin Harper said there would have to be "strict controls" over use of the information stored on the cards.

14.  Edinburgh Evening News, 8 Apr. 08 - Protesters hold anti-ID events

AN organisation opposed to the introduction of identity cards is to hold information sessions at the Scottish Parliament.

The NO2ID campaign will hold two events at Holyrood on April 17 for MSPs and parliamentary researchers in a bid to highlight similarities between entitlement cards in Scotland and the thinking behind ID cards.

A spokesman for the campaign said: "The information sessions will highlight extensive similarities between the current implementation of the Scottish Entitlement Card Scheme and the proposed UK identity scheme."

15.  Three Cards Compared, briefing paper, 17 Apr. 08

This [analysis] raises the following policy questions:

1. Given the open-ended scope of the integrated Scottish National Entitlement Card and Scottish Citizens' Account system, and the absence of alternatives once applied to a service, do we already have in place ID cards which are “needed to access devolved services”?

2. With the loss of public trust in government handling of personal information, is mere compliance with Data Protection legislation sufficient? Information security is not the same as protecting privacy.

3. How might Scotland capture public service efficiencies without sacrificing privacy and contributing - inadvertently or otherwise - to the database state? Why do identification when authentication will suffice?

The 3 page briefing paper can be downloaded from:  3cards.pdf (2.2Mb)

16.  Sunday Herald, 25 May 08 - Campaigners taste victory in ‘backdoor ID cards’ battle, EXCLUSIVE Mark Howarth

Holyrood pledges to review entitlement cards and safeguard privacy

CIVIL LIBERTIES campaigners have won a review of Scotland's controversial microchipped entitlement card scheme.

Ministers are to scrutinise the project amid fears that it is a "back door" to compulsory ID cards...

Now the SNP has heeded the result of a Holyrood vote and pledged to reassess the scheme - entitled Customer First - to ensure it meets data protection principles...

Campaigners believe the system is an ID card by any other name and will allow unprecedented surveillance of people's activities as more and more databanks are fed into the central structure.

Last December, Holyrood backed a motion by Green MSP Patrick Harvie that called for entitlement cards to be reviewed in line with Data Protection Act principles...

[Harvie] said: "We're pleased to see the Scottish government firm up its commitment to data protection and privacy principles for these entitlement cards...

"Tracking overall use of public transport helps planning, certainly, but a system that tracks individuals will be misused by a Westminster government determined to monitor all of the people all of the time."...

17.  Scotsman - Letters, 4 July 08 - ID cards already here, Mary Rolls

It is good to know there is lively opposition to identity cards (your report, 1 July) but, alas, in Scotland they are already with us.

In 2003, four local authorities made access to school meals available only on production of a YoungScot card carrying name, address, date of birth, photograph, an EU logo, a unique number and a smart chip "allowing for a variety of applications". Other local authorities have followed suit.

Moreover, since April 2006, the elderly and disabled have had to present a Scottish public services Entitlement Card to obtain concessionary travel, and accompanying literature makes clear that in future other services, at local and national level, including the health service, are to be added to this uniquely numbered "bus pass" and that personal records are to be kept at a national register of citizens' accounts...

This surveillance creep has not featured on any party's manifesto but Scotland is showing how identity cards can be introduced surreptitiously and with virtually no comment by the media.

18. Sunday Times (Ireland), 10 Aug. 08 - Irish bus pass is ‘identity card by stealth’, Colin Coyle

The new travel pass could evolve to let the state watch our every move

When John Welford fumbles in his pockets for change as he boards the bus, fellow passengers often nod sympathetically at the pensioner and ask him if he has forgotten his free travel pass. Those who strike up a conversation with Welford will come away thinking that he is either paranoid or has discovered an unsettling plan by the authorities to introduce a national identity card by stealth.

Welford, an Edinburgh pensioner, is interested in the introduction of the Irish public services card, a seemingly innocuous travel pass to be distributed to the country’s 640,000 free travel recipients next year. He sees a parallel between the introduction of the card in Ireland with the rollout of the travel pass in Scotland.

Two years ago, Welford returned his bus card and asked for it to be destroyed. His fear is that the apparently benign identity card, which contains a name, photograph and unique number, is a Trojan horse, the first step by the Scottish government to usher in a national ID by the back door.

There are echoes of his suspicion in the comments of privacy campaigners last week in Ireland. They claim that although the public service card will be introduced as a free travel pass, it may gradually form the basis of a national identity card.

“In 2005, a majority of Scottish members of parliament rejected a national ID. So instead they’ve issued a unique card to the most vulnerable members of society that can be expanded into what they call an ‘entitlement card’,” Welford said. “This will eventually be used for all interaction with state agencies. Because it has been introduced incrementally, there has been little debate.” ....

This original link no longer works properly:

But fortunately you can now find a copy of the whole article here:

19.  Scottish Parliament, 19 Nov. 08

Motion S3M-2906 - Identity Cards, Fergus Ewing (Minister for Community Safety), incorporating amendments S3M-2906.2 from Robert Brown (Glasgow, LD) and S3M-2906.2.1 from Bill Aitken (Glasgow, Con)

Patrick Harvie (Glasgow, Green): The creation of the [privacy working] group was necessary, but I challenge the restriction of its remit. I understand from written answers that it will not be able to examine the operation of citizens accounts and entitlement cards. Those are not the same as the UK identity surveillance system, but they bear some resemblance to it. Those concerns can be addressed. All I ask is that the minister allow the privacy working group to examine those systems and their boundaries in the interest of transparency. Often, those of us who argue for civil liberties seek not the abandonment of such technological systems but merely a clear set of boundaries within which they can operate. Entitlement cards and citizens accounts can be put back in their box within clear, well-understood boundaries before they grow incrementally into something for which the Parliament would never vote. I hope that the minister will respond on that point.

Motion agreed to: For 69, Against 0, Abstensions 38.

(My emphasis)



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