Trevor Mendham

UK Compulsory National Identity Cards


So, who are the opponents of the ID Card plans? Is it just a handful of individuals like me, civil liberty pressure groups and the "usual suspects"? Far from it.

People who have spoken in public of their concerns include:

  • The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas
    The man appointed by the government itself to protect our private data has spoken of his "increasing alarm"[1] at the scheme and warned that we might "sleepwalk into a surveillance society" [2].

  • The EU Working Party of Data Commissioners
    This European group agrees with our Mr Thomas, warning against the widescale use of biometrics. [3]

  • The Home Affairs Committee (HAC)
    The Committee split on the issue - an unusual event. A minority report condemned ID Cards outright. The majority report was highly scathing of the Government's detailed plans saying that the draft legislation "goes far wider than is necessary to introduce a simple system to establish and demonstrate identity". [4]

  • The British Computer Society (BCS)
    The BCS, whilst not opposing the concept in principle, has supported the HAC's criticisms of the detailed proposals. In particular they were concerned by the way the Government has kept shifting its ground as it tries one justification after another. [5]

  • The British Medical Association (BMA)
    The BMA has expressed its concern about the plans, in particular about the possibility of GPs being forced into the position of "unofficial immigration inspectors". They also doubt the Government's claims regarding the scale of "health tourism" and have concerns over the impact on socially disadvantaged groups and on patient confidentiality. [6]

  • The Royal Society
    The Earl of Selborne, chair of the Royal Society's Science in Society Committee, has warned against ID Card function creep and the possiblity that we might "sleepwalk into a technological future". [7]

  • Brian Gladman
    Who he? Retired director of strategic electronic communications at the Ministry of Defence, so we should listen when he says: "the way this bill is designed enables a police state".[8]

    The influential IT magazine doesn't oppose ID Cards on principle but has launched an "ID Cards on Trial" campaign against this particular scheme. They say: "This isn't a campaign about the principle of ID cards or civil liberties but a campaign about what we believe to be serious flaws in the bill over the estimated cost, scope, benefits and technology. If ID cards are to be introduced we believe the project is potentially heading for disaster unless these issues are addressed now." [9]

Hardly the usual "airy-fair civil libertarians" David Blunkett so despised. [10]


[1] BBC report
[2] BBC report
[4] BBC report
[6] BMA
[7] Royal Society
[8] New Statesman report, 30/5/2005 (subscription required on the web)
[9], 6/6/2005
[10] BBC report

UK ID Cards - Introduction

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