A threat to your freedom


ID CARDS - THE SPIN AND THE FACTS

In the Queen's Speech, November 2004, the Government announced plans to bring in compulsory national ID cards.

The Home Office was suspected of being behind discredited media reports on the eve of the Queen's Speech that an al-Qa'ida plot to fly planes into London skyscrapers had been foiled.

Supporters of David Blunkett were accused of trying to exploit public fears in an attempt to help the Government introduce anti-terrorism legislation. Details of the story, which two lobby correspondents agreed to run at the same time, are believed to have been provided by a Home Office source several days ago.

Despite having the information for several days, the Daily Mail and ITV News programme held the stories until just before the Queen's Speech, which contained Bills to introduce an ID card, and other anti-terrorist measures. (Independent, 24.11.04)

Officials distanced themselves from the story. A police source said: "If there was information that Canary Wharf was to be attacked, then I think that we would know. There is no credence to reports of any current threat." (Times, 24.11.04)

After the Queen's Speech the previous day, Times columnist Simon Jenkins commented: "Today the adrenalin of dread is to be pumped into the electoral vein, yielding dark shadows and shudders down the spine. Once upon a time new Labour was going to rule by hope. Seven years on, it rules by fear.".

Reference Material

The rather heavy Identity Cards Bill is now available to enthusiasts (HTML and PDF).

We have produced a
fact sheet putting it into perspective.

no2ID have a very readable feature answering questions on it, and Liberty have a simplified summary of the Bill (PDF).

For a good general (and wisely cynical) guide to ID cards, we can recommend
The Complete ID Card Guide on The Register website. Privacy International have also produced a very readable Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on ID cards in the UK.

David Blunkett boasts that there will be massive benefits to society, including combating terrorism. Why not read the Privacy International report (PDF file) on actual experience?.

A key feature of the planned ID card will be biometric identifiers. For background information, another Privacy International report is recommended.

Earlier in 2004, the Government produced a Draft Bill on ID Cards. IT interest group, STAND gave evidence on the Draft Bill to Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee. (File is Word format; HTML also available).

The official Consultation on the Draft Bill recorded 48% of respondents against proposals, with 31% for. (The remainder were either uncommitted or had mixed feelings on aspects of it).

The Government is fond of claiming 'massive public support'. However, in a MORI survey for the Detica consultancy, only 19% were prepared to pay over 25.

The cost could easily come to several times that, not to mention all the hidden costs that will be met from inflated passport fees and general taxation. The Financial Times reports that the Home Office cost-benefits analysis currently estimates the scheme will cost 5.5bn over 10 years. (The original estimate was it would cost between 1bn and 3bn - see how estimates are prone to doubling!)

In a previous consultation, the Government also ignored over 5,000 email responses of opposition to ID cards sent via the STAND website (which even-handedly provided a link to the Government case for ID cards). The Home Office was thus conveniently able to claim 2:1 in favour (rather than over 3:1 against).

Two articles exploring the actual depth of 'support' are worth reading:
'The truth behind ID card opinion polls' by Ian Brown Ph.D. and
'UK ID Card moving forward despite significant opposition' by Privacy International.

 

|Quick summary of the case against|

|Being proved right by events:
Our original Q&A feature on ID cards
written after '9/11' - but still relevant.
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|no2ID - national non-party campaign against ID cards.
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Date page first compiled: 26 November 2004, updated: 24 December 2004