A remarkable few days in the e-government world.
On March 31st it emerged that the US SERVE project to allow American military to vote from abroad via the Internet had actually been cancelled. In January we heard that it had been put on hold thanks to a critical report on it's technology from an elightened minority a 'Security Peer Review Group' that political pressure had foisted on SERVE. In fact SERVE is so cancelled they've already wiped their website!
This is a big win for those of us opposed to e-voting as it shows that even an organisation as technologically dependent as the US military can see the risks involved with e-voting. Tie this news in with the decision to hold no e-voting pilots in the UK this year and Switzerland's announcement that Swiss living abroad will have to wait until 2010 to vote online and perhaps we're making some progress!
ID card stampede
Now the bad news… The Prime Minister, in his 1st April briefing, seems to have decided that there are only a few minor details to resolve with ID cards now that the main arguments have been won (err… what?). Let me quote directly as it's rather a shocker:
Question You mentioned earlier there might be a need to adjust terrorism laws further and you made reference to ID cards. Can you tell us more about that? And I thought the Cabinet had decided to defer ID cards for a few years.
Prime Minister There are certain issues that are going to come up in the near future about terrorism laws and what we need to do in respect of that, and the … will publish proposals on it. But we need to make sure that in the light of fresh information and operations such as the one that we have >just seen that we are keeping our law up to date with the reality on the ground. The second point in relation to ID cards is that I think there is no longer a civil liberties objection to that in the vast majority of quarters. There is a series of logistical questions, of practical questions, those need to be resolved, but that in my judgment now, the logistics is the only time delay in it, otherwise I think it needs to move forward.
This is unbelievable in my view. Blair explicitly ties ID Cards with terrorism when we've had other ministers claiming the issues aren't directly related. ID Cards in Spain did not prevent the bombing there and they wouldn't have stopped the 9/11 attacks either.
Yes the logistics of creating a national ID card database are terrifying, particularly with the government's record on large IT projects as shabby as it is. But to completely ignore the widespread opposition, on civil liberties grounds, to ID cards is quite astonishing. Stand.org.uk have lots more to say on it – understandably seeing as the Home Office basically tried to ignore the 5,070 consultation responses Stand marshalled.