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Use of Data Stored on ID Cards

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Use Of Data Stored On Id Cards

As the UK ID card scheme is introduced all residents and citizens who apply for a card will have their personal data – or biographical footprint – verified by the UK Passport & Identity Service.

The Passport & Identity Service will refer to various national databases already in existence to confirm that the information supplied by an applicant is correct.

Data to be Stored on UK ID Cards

The vast majority of UK citizens and residents will already have items of personal data stored on various national databases. Anyone who has obtained a driving licence or passport, applied for benefits, paid tax, visited an NHS doctor or registered to vote will have had to provide some personal data. The relevant organisation will then have stored this information.

When an individual applies for a UK ID card the personal data they provide will be checked against these existing databases. Once the information has been verified and the individual’s identity has been confirmed their personal information will be stored on the new National Identity Register.

It is believed that a single, central source of data such as the National Identity Register will help to reduce identity fraud, organised crime, people trafficking, abuse of the benefits system and violations of immigration law.

The National Identity Register

The National Identity Register will store the personal information of all UK ID card holders. However, the Register will only contain the information needed to identify an individual.

The information held on the Register may be accessed by other organisations to verify the identity of an individual. For example, if somebody were to apply at a Jobcentre for income support, the Jobcentre could consult the Register to confirm the applicant’s identity.

The UK ID card scheme relies on the concurrent use of the ID cards themselves and the Register for its security and to ensure that the information contained on and in the ID cards is correct.

Identity Verification Through ID Cards

Once the ID card scheme has been implemented various organisations will be able to access the data held about individuals on the National Identity Register. To access personal information held on the Register an organisation would have to be accredited to use the scheme – not just anyone will be able to access it. In addition the individual would have to give their consent before the organisation was allowed to access the data.

The scheme may be used simply to confirm an individual’s identity or it could be used to check their entitlement to live or work in the UK. The National Identity Register could also be used to check whether an individual has a criminal record when they apply for certain types of jobs. At its simplest the scheme may be used simply to confirm that an ID card being used to prove the individual’s name or age is actually valid.

Organisations Who May Access the National Identity Register

Many types of organisations may become accredited to access the National Identity Register. These include government agencies, universities, banks and building societies, car rental companies, retailers and telephone service providers. Individuals would no longer have to provide numerous documents to prove their identity, address, age, etc. Instead the relevant organisation would be able to find all of the information they needed from one reliable and secure source.

Not only will organisations have to be accredited and receive the individual’s consent before the personal information can be accessed, they will also be continually audited to ensure that they are an appropriate organisation to have access to such important personal information.

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