Government Technology

U.K. Prime Minister Discusses National ID Cards with Parliament

January 10, 2008 By

In yesterday's round of Prime Minister's questions, U.K. PM Gordon Brown was asked to discuss the national ID card scheme. The Identity Cards Act became law in 2006, with the first cards expected to be issued to foreign nationals later in 2008.

As it stands now, the U.K. government is fully committed to introducing compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals as well as a voluntary system for all British citizens, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said. He said that the implementation of ID cards would provide protection against illegal immigration into the country and help shield people from identity fraud.

The prospect of compulsory card carrying for all people in the U.K. would be subject to Parliamentary debate, he added.

"The whole purpose of identity cards is to protect personal identity. People recognize that what the identity cards will contain is little more than the information that is now given for people's passports," said the Prime Minister.

He went on to add that biometrics are key to the protection of people's identity: "The whole purpose of identity cards is to protect people's identity and the way to do that is to use, in addition to the passport information that will be part of the identity card, biometrics so that use of the information cannot be triggered other than by the facial or fingerprint data that are part of the biometrics."

There are those in opposition to the Identity Cards Act.

"We have learned in the past few months that it is completely unsafe to trust the Government with any more of our identity information," countered Opposition Leader David Cameron alluding to the British government's recent lost of personal information.

In November, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed that data on 25 million people, all British families with children under the age of 16, had been lost. Then in December, the British Driving Standards Agency revealed that the information on 3 million people was lost when a hard drive containing the information went missing.

"Everybody in the House wants proper biometric visas for people visiting this country ... My personal view is that I am against compulsory identity cards," said Cameron.

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