UK government pushes ahead with national ID card

By EDRi · December 2, 2004

The UK government is pushing ahead with plans for a compulsory national ID card. The Identity Cards Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the government’s legislative programme for the coming year, and introduced in the House of Commons on 29 November.

The Bill is virtually unchanged from a draft published for consultation earlier this year. Citizens will be issued with a card as they renew passports, but can also be ordered to attend an interview to be biometrically scanned and given a card. A National Identity Register will contain details of the names, current and previous addresses, place of birth, identifying characteristics, nationality and immigration status of every UK resident. Biometrics (planned to be fingerprints and iris scans) will be stored on the card and in the database. Details of every access made to the Register will be stored, revealing the times and places that online checks were made on the card and hence the location of its owner.

The card and the register would be necessary to seek employment, to gain access to health and other services, and would be used by police and immigration officers in the course of their functions. It could also be required for operating a bank account, using professional services such as a solicitor or accountant, applying for a permit or license, buying property, stocks or shares or applying for credit.

EDRI members Privacy International and FIPR are members of a national campaign against the proposals. This No2ID coalition has branded the card and register as a “licence to exist”. PI Director Simon Davies, recently elected Chairman of NO2ID, commented that: “The Home Secretary and the government have staked their future on this proposal. They have totally misjudged the public mood and will find themselves in the middle of a firestorm over the issue.”

ID card scheme unveiled by Queen (23.11.2004)

ID scheme, IT the key to Blunkett’s new terror laws (24.11.2004)

(Contribution by Ian Brown, board-member EDRI)