John Swinney denies plans for super ID database

John Swinney: ruling out both ID cards and national database
John Swinney: ruling out both ID cards and national database
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Deputy First Minister John Swinney has come under fire over the prospect of ID cards and a super ID database being introduced in Scotland.

Campaigners have hit out at proposals to extend the NHS central database across public bodies, with access secured through a citizens’ reference number.

Opposition parties have voiced “Big Brother” concerns that it represents excessive state interference in the lives of citizens.

But Mr Swinney told MSPs yesterday: “The government is opposed to ID cards and does not propose to introduce any new national database.”

The changes would result in “limited additional verification” and data sharing from the register among public bodies. But this will include HMRC for tax purposes, he admitted.

The NHS register has existed since the 1950s, Mr Swinney said, and every citizen already has a health service number.

“I can assure any concerned members of the public the government will be testing any reactions against its fundamental opposition to ID cards and it’s determination not to create a new national database.”

But Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the scheme mirrored the last UK Labour government’s aborted ID card scheme.

“We’re now seeing a proposal for a system which will give every citizen a unique reference number linked to a central database, linked to a card scheme, sharing information across government and controlling access to public services,” he said.

Labour’s Neil Findlay added: “Many people have civil liberties concerns about the proposals.”

The Open Rights Group digital campaign body said that Mr Swinney had failed to address key concerns over the change.

Executive director Jim Killock said last night: “The minister claims that they are not creating a new database but they are converting the NHS database into a national identity register.

“He did not explain why there is a need to create a unique identifier to be used across government databases. This is the crucial question that the Scottish Government must answer.”