ID cards to be monitored by new Identity Commissioner

The government has appointed a new identity commissioner to oversee ID cards and biometric passports.

Sir Joseph Pilling, formerly permanent secretary to the Northern Ireland Office, will monitor the nature and security of the information held on the National Identity Register. He will also check that identity cards are used fairly by the public and private sectors, when he takes the post next month.

Pilling will produce an annual report on the functions of the National Identity Service, the agency that runs the ID cards scheme. He will not monitor the identity cards given to foreign nationals, however, as these are being covered by the information commissioner and the chief inspector for the UK Border Agency.

Alan Johnson, the home secretary, said: “The public has the right to expect the National Identity Service to be run to the highest standards. The Identity Commissioner will champion their interests, providing a strong and independent voice, holding the Identity and Passport Service to account and ensuring information collected under the Service is kept securely.”

The security and privacy of data used for identity cards has been a central concern to those who oppose them. Last month, it was reported that a hacker had been able to clone one of the cards given to a foreign national, in under 12 minutes.

The Conservative party has threatened to scrap the scheme if it wins the next general election.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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