UK Parliament Calls For National Debate On Planned Introduction Of Digital IDs
Daniyal Sohail 10 days ago Wed 10th July 2019 | 08:19 PM
The Science and Technology Committee (STC) of the UK parliament has urged the government to enhance its digital services, including through ensuring a nation-wide debate on introducing single unique identifiers (SUIs), if it wants to retain public trust, the parliament said in a press release on Wednesday
Single unique identifiers would amount to digital ID cards to link an individual's data from all across government databases. The idea of logging information on all UK citizens into a unified database has sparkled heated public debates since the Identity Cards Act was adopted in 2006 and subsequently repealed in 2010. In between, the UK government created and then destroyed a gigantic centralized database of citizens' essential ID information, known as the National Identity Register (NIR).
"It is clear that the current digital service offered by the Government has lost momentum and is not transforming the citizen-State relationship as it could ... Single unique identifiers can transform the efficiency and transparency of Government services. The Government should ensure there is a national debate on single unique identifiers for citizens to use when accessing public services along with the right of the citizen to know exactly what the Government is doing with their data.
The debate on pros and cons of introducing SUIs has in its core a fear that the government might re-build a new NIR-like database, local media suggested. Aside from an apparent benefit of speeding up the government services without bureaucratic delays for the citizens, apparent are also concerns about privacy and personal data being more vulnerable to hacking attacks in a single gigantic database.
According to the parliament's press release, the government can regain public trust and improve its digital services by appointing ministerial digital champions within each department, conducting audit of all legacy IT systems, and boosting investments in data protection. As a quality target level of effective e-governance, the STC points at Estonia.
Estonia, along with the United Kingdom, Israel, New Zealand and South Korea, is in the Digital 5 network of leading digital governments. Tallinn's model of e-governance has been recognized to be in the vanguard of digitized government services in Europe, covering practically all realms of state-citizen interactions, such as elections, taxes, banking, education and health.