Your ID card details will be sold to banks
UK Daily Mail | March 12, 2007
JAMES SLACK and SUE REID
Banks and other businesses are to be sold access to personal information stored on the Government's ID cards database.
Ministers want to raise hundreds of millions towards the £540million a year cost of running the controversial scheme.
The Government is already facing a backlash over charging people £93 each for an ID card - which will contain 49 different pieces of personal data.
Now ministers are planning to charge companies around 60p a time to check details held on the giant "big brother" database. They hope for up to 770million "verifications" each year.
The data which banks, financial institutions and others will be allowed to access includes names, addresses, any second homes and National Insurance numbers.
Critics warned it may be the "tip of the iceberg" as the Home Office becomes increasingly desperate to balance the books.
The Daily Mail has learned that a top firm of headhunters is already working for the Government, seeking a consultancy expert to market the benefits of the database to the private sector.
Firms will be told that using the scheme will cut millions from their annual fraud bills and save them hefty fines for employing illegal immigrants.
Officials believe it will be cheaper for companies to confirm identity through the database than by using current methods such as bills and driving licences.
The Home Office said businesses would need a person's consent to check information about them.
But there was fury that the Government will be selling information which the public has had to pay to hand over - like it or not. Anybody who buys a passport from 2009 will have no option but to sign up.
Phil Booth, of the NO2ID campaign, said: "The government is trying to pay for its compulsory ID scheme by turning a buck on the very same personal information it forces you to hand over
"Charging others to check your personal details is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge. When employees of tens of thousands of officially-accredited companies are allowed to make checks, how much easier will it be for dodgy investigators and identity thieves to find out your information?
"Under pressure from the Treasury, the Home Office is trying to screw every penny possible out of a scheme that it still hasn't proved will work."
Chancellor Gordon Brown supports the ID card scheme but is putting the Home Office under enormous pressure to recoup the extraordinary costs of setting up the huge database.
According to the Government's own estimates, the bill will be £5.4billion over the next ten years.
Charging the public £93 for an ID card and biometric passport will go only part of the way to meeting the cost.
The remainder will come from charging businesses to access information. Official documents reveal that some 44,000 organisations could be "accredited" to carry out verification checks, either online or over the phone.
They range from Whitehall departments, banks and financial institutions to mobile phone and video rental shops.
They will inform database officials of details given by a customer, such as name and address.
In return for the fee they will be given a Yes or No answer.
Many firms may increase the costs of the goods or services they provide to recoup the outlay.
Employers will be expected to pay to check the status of people applying for a job, to establish their identity and whether they are in the UK legally.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said last night: "This is yet more evidence of a Home Office IT-based project that is spiralling out of control.
"The Government should ditch this costly plastic poll tax and invest the savings in practical measures to improve our safety, like establishing a dedicated UK border police force."
Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg said: "Public resistance to the imposition of this utterly unnecessary ID cards scheme will continue to increase as the costs to each and every one of us become clearer."