Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Big Blunkett announces incremental plan for national ID cards.

The BBC and the Guardian report that Blunkett has outlined his plan for national ID cards. In the face of cabinet splits over the issue, he is going for an incremental approach to introducing the cards.

According to the govt's new document on the subject the national ID cards will be introduced in 2 phases. In phase 1, a new national identity register will be established, passports and driving licences will be replaced by cards carrying biometric identitifiers (e.g. fingerprints or iris scans) starting in 2007/8, a voluntary ID card for those without passports or driving licences will be made available and mandatory ID documents containing biometric identifiers will be introduced for foreign nationals staying in Britain for more than 3 months.

In phase 2, after a full debate and a vote in parliament, the cards will be made compulsory to own and access to public services will require presentation of such a card. The cards will also be required to apply for jobs legally.

Blunkett is trying desperately to justify this claiming the cards will make identity theft impossible (which is simply false -- biometrics will not prevent forgery or false application for the cards) and asserting they're necessary without explaining why. Moreover the new govt document on this topic repeats a lie about the govt's earlier consultation on entitlement cards. The document states:

Of the 5000 people who responded formally to the consultation, 4200 expressed a view. Over 60% of these were in favour. We also received over 5000 emails from an organised opposition campaign. Over 96% of these were opposed.

But the 5000 emails referred to were sent by individuals responding to the govt constultation via the STAND website, and thus were a formal part of the consultation. It is simply disengenous to separate these from the other responses since they were sent via the gov'ts formal channels for the consultation and involved individuals making their own mind up to oppose (or support in some cases) the cards.

For some detailed criticism of the cards, this article in the Register is worth a look. The Stand website also has good material including more detail on the spinning and lies over the results of the consultation exercise. Finally, Samizdata and White Rose also comment on this.

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