Home secretary Alan Johnson has confirmed that the National Identity Register contains National Insurance numbers and answers to ‘shared secrets’.
In a revelation that is likely to intensify the arguments over the privacy implications of the database, Johnson claimed the NI numbers have been included to “aid identity verification checks for identity cards and, in time, passports”.
They could also be used to cross-reference the register with other government databases, including tax and benefits.
The answers to shared secrets chosen by applicants will be used to allow them to identify themselves over the phone. Johnson said this method, which is commonly used by banks, would speed up the reporting of lost or stolen documents or a change of address.
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