The UK’s plans to introduce ID cards took another turn this week, with prime minister Tony Blair issuing a response to an e-petition to ‘scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards’.
The petition, which attracted almost 28,000 signatures, called for the Government to abandon plans for a national ID scheme, claiming that: “the introduction of ID cards will not prevent terrorism or crime, as is claimed. It will be yet another indirect tax on all law-abiding citizens of the UK.”
In his response, Mr Blair said: “ID cards will make an important contribution to making our borders more secure, countering fraud, and tackling international crime and terrorism.” The prime minister also addressed concerns regarding the cost of the scheme, arguing that claims have been inflated by including in estimates the cost of a biometric passport, which all those who want to travel abroad will soon need.
“In contrast to these exaggerated figures, the real benefits for our country and its citizens from ID cards and the National Identity Register, which will contain less information on individuals than the data collected by the average store card, should be delivered for a cost of around £3 a year over its ten-year life,” said the prime minister.
Mr Blair also made the case for ID cards, highlighting that terrorists frequently use multiple identities and that one in four criminals also uses a false identity. Furthermore, he said the technology can be used to prevent illegal immigration and illegal working. He also argued that the: “national ID card system will prevent the need, as now, to take a whole range of documents to establish our identity. Over time, they will also help improve access to services.”
Controversially, Mr Blair also said he believed “the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice.They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register.” Opposition parties have expressed concern about such measures, arguing that they could have major implications for privacy, with authorities going on ‘fishing expeditions’ through the files of innocent people.
To read the prime minister’s response in full, go to: http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page10987.asp