UK: Government wants to introduce compulsory ID cards (1)

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Today (3 July) the government put out a consultation paper on "Entitlement cards" (ID cards to everyone else).

It is apparent from the Home Secretary's statement in the House of Commons and in interviews on television that the "consultation" exercise is simply to see how far the government can go. The government wants compulsory registration, with criminal sanctions for those who do not register. The card would, in effect, be compulsory because without it basic rights would be denied, eg: access to doctor or hospital, driving licence or passport, bank account or credit card, unemployment or housing benefit etc.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:

"This is yet another casualty of the "war on terrorism". The government unashamedly refers to the need to exclude refugees and asylum-seekers who are fleeing poverty and persecution - who are equated in their eyes with potential terrorists or criminals - to justify ID cards.

Others in Europe should beware because the UK ID card will be the most technologically advanced in the continent (containing biometric and other personal data) and will set a standard in the EU which others will, in time, be expected to match."

The text of the consultation paper is on: ID cards (it is an unnecessarily large, 3.5MB pdf file), see: Home Office press release below.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) opposes: ID plan


Reactions from civil society

1. Liberty
2. Privacy International

1. Liberty

"Universal entitlement cards are compulsory IDs: the Government does not trust its citizens"
Liberty 3rd July 2002

John Wadham, director of Liberty:

"The government is taking euphemism to extremes. The proposed universal entitlement card is a compulsory identity card by any other name, and they must be open about that if we are to have the honest debate they have called for. Everyone will be required to register and to produce the card to prove their entitlement to services and employment. If you need the card to get your pension, to see a doctor, or to be allowed to get a job, then it is a compulsory card.

"This plan exposes the fact the government doesn't trust its citizens. It wants 60 million of us to register our identity so it can check up on us, monitor our movements and decide whether we are entitled to the services we have already paid our taxes for. ID cards make us suspects not citizens: that's why all innocent citizens should oppose them.

"The irony is that a Government which trusts us so little gives us so many reasons not to trust it on this issue. The Home Secretary says this is not an identity card although it exists only to establish your identity; it's not compulsory but you have to have it.

The card will lead to the Government to establish a national database on all 60 million of us - which the consultation document already envisages linking too the Government databases. Like the proposals to allow thousands of bureaucrats to see your email and telephone communications data, it's about making all our information available to all government departments - with huge consequent dangers of misuse.

In recent months, the Government has claimed that a card will tackle any number of high-profile problems. The reality is that this vastly-expensive scheme will tackle none of them, but will have a serious impact on every innocent hard-working individual in the country.

"Finally, what I can't understand is why my 89 year old mother should be forced to register, maybe have her fingerprints taken and have other personal details stored on her card when she has committed no crime."

Specifics: illegal working and benefit fraud

"The Home Office wants to issue 60 million cards to 'target' a few thousand people working illegally in this country - the maj

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