Nick Palmer MP (Labour) MP for Broxtowe was first elected in 1997.
He has campaigned for widening access to the internet. He has described himself as someone who has worked in IT for most of his life. He studied at MIT, Copenhagen and gained a PhD in mathematics from Birkbeck College, London. Nick held various IT jobs in the pharmaceutical industry until his election to Parliament. In 2003 he was appointed team Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ministers at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He is currently Parliamentary Private Secretary to Malcolm Wicks, Minister for State in the Department of Trade and Industry. On the Executive Committee of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Communications. He has been an Officer of the All Party Internet Group since 2001 and is currently Joint Vice Chairman. A patron of the Westminster eForum. A member of EURIM. Member of the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee. He used to be employed by Novartis, a rival of Monsanto and Zeneca.
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Strongly in favour of the ID Card Bill. While the bill was still in parliament Nick Palmer said the following about ID Cards on his web site
- I proposed ID cards before the Government and remain a strong supporter. It seems to me in the public interest that we aren't one of the few developed countries to have no effective safeguards against people pretending to be someone else, and I don't think it's unreasonable to let the police have our fingerprints on file so that if we behave suspiciously they can check whether we're who we say we are. Note that carrying the ID card is optional (it's intended to be convenient but you don't need to) - it's the register of fingerprints that is important. This also prevents multiple identity, a common technique used by terrorists. It doesn't, of course, prevent some previously unknown terrorist from committing an atrocity, though it may help catch them later (the Madrid bombers were caught this way).
- Opponents, some of whom are very angry about this, feel it's an unwarranted intrusion and a step towards a Big Brother state. British people have always had the right to wander round without telling people who they are, and many find it alarming and a slippery slope if the police can identify everyone. There are also subsidiary arguments on cost (current estimate is £30 extra for a card lasting 10 years) and technology, but the basic debate is more at a gut instinct level - do we want to feel more secure against people pretending to be someone else, or do we want to be more secure against the police knowing who we are?
- If we do have ID cards, it has to make sense for the registration to be introduced widely and eventually made compulsory - I can't see that having it only for people who fancy them makes any sense, since criminals and terrorists will suavely decline. So I'm supporting issuing them with every passport (the new passports are going to need fingerprints anyway). People who really think this is an outrage can renew their passports before the change, which will last them 10 years, by which time we should have collectively decided if we want it compulsory or not.
In a separate page on his website he goes further. Short of roaming Beeston in a sandwich board, I don't see that I can do much more to be open about my support for it. He also discuses the issue in ID cards and the NHS IT system, House of Commons debate Identity Cards Bill, Identity Cards Bill 29 March 2006, the attempt by some Members of the unelected House to allow criminals and others to opt out of carrying the card is not only anti-democratic but ridiculous? 22 March 2006, Identity Cards Bill 28 June 2005
Nick Palmer: "People were worried about spam but "spyware is now the biggest danger"
He has sponsored a meeting in Westminster over the issue.
Nick Palmer In a letter to the The Guardian July 14, 2005
- Simon Davies of Privacy International and the LSE, fresh from trying to rubbish ID cards, dismisses retention of email records to allow examination of messages from suspects (Comment, July 13). This would, he says, be "unlawful, unworkable, disproportionate and ridiculously expensive". Much the same was said of CCTV, which has provided a major step forward in the investigation of the London bombings. There is a balance to be struck between cost and privacy, and safety. I would like to see details of what could be done, the privacy safeguards and how much it would cost internet service providers. In the current climate it would be nice to have less unqualified rhetoric from privacy campaigners.
Westminster Hall debates Antisocial Behaviour Nick Palmer MP 15 July 2003
- We can all suggest extremes. If we were to intern all teenagers, we would end teenage crime; I have constituents who would favour that solution. However, a long way short of that comes a point where most of us would feel that we were interfering too much in the normal exercise of everyday life. When we consider the tools that CSOs might use, many of them are individually controversial such as evidence from CCTV cameras, evidence from DNA or identity cards. When we examine those, each can easily be justified on the grounds that the benefits of greater community safety outweigh the risks, but there is a slightly more serious case to answer when they are all put together.
- 2006-04-26 - The Guardian - Towards a surveillance society
- Summary: Letters responding to comments on the id card bill by Nick Palmer.
- 2006-04-25 - The Guardian - Misunderstandings distort the ID debate
- Summary: Nick Palmer wrote the Guardian saying "There is an email from anti-ID campaigners circulating making the same erroneous claims. Obviously there are arguments against ID cards, as with any proposal, but it's a pity if the debate is distorted by misunderstanding."
- 2005-10-20 - BBC - Spyware 'rampant' in UK computers
- Summary: The most malicious spyware programs lurk unseen on PCs and steal confidential information such as passwords or login details. "People were worried about spam but spyware is now the bigger danger," said Dr Nick Palmer MP, who sponsored the meeting at Westminster." "Previous ways of computer harassment, from viruses to spam, have been countered too slowly causing endless trouble for ordinary computer users." "This time we need to stay ahead of the curve."
- 2005-08-13 - The Guardian - ID debate
- Author: Nick Palmer MP
- Summary: Nick Palmer wrote the Guardian saying "Simon Davies, in his obsessional campaign against ID cards, claims (A litany of deception and secrecy, August 11) that not one of 200 opposition amendments was accepted in committee, that debate was guillotined and debate was steamrollered. I'm a member of the committee who contributed actively throughout, and this is a travesty of the truth. The opposition took a light-hearted approach, withdrew the vast majority of its amendments and didn't bother to use the whole of the time available. Sessions finished early and the last session was abandoned altogether. Readers don't need to take my word for it, they can find the sessions on www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmsciden.htm "
- 2005-07-14 - The Guardian - Net balance
- Author: Nick Palmer MP
- Summary: Nick Palmer wrote the Guardian saying "Simon Davies of Privacy International and the LSE, fresh from trying to rubbish ID cards, dismisses retention of email records to allow examination of messages from suspects (Comment, July 13). This would, he says, be "unlawful, unworkable, disproportionate and ridiculously expensive". Much the same was said of CCTV, which has provided a major step forward in the investigation of the London bombings. There is a balance to be struck between cost and privacy, and safety. I would like to see details of what could be done, the privacy safeguards and how much it would cost internet service providers. In the current climate it would be nice to have less unqualified rhetoric from privacy campaigners."
- 2004-12-03 - The Register - Abuses of the English language, ID cards...
- Author: Lucy Sherriff
- Summary: Today Nick Palmer MP wrote a letter to the Times criticising one of their columnists Mary-Ann Sieghart. She had said that the ID card scheme was going to create a super database spying on us all. He wrote to reassure her basically saying 'ah bless, there's no database and it's all quite safe.' So I wrote to him basically saying "what about the audit trail then?" He replied with this: "Thank you for the thoughtful letter. I agree that these are the kind of things we need to be careful about. I've not seen the draft Bill yet, and will bear your points in mind as I read it. I agree that the question of whether an audit trail is needed is reasonable." So why does an MP write to the Times telling us all "don't worry" when he HASN'T EVEN READ THE BLOODY DRAFT BILL! Perhaps it would be best to skip the Commons and start on lobbying the Lords.