Campus Cards, College and University Identification and Security

Concerns over National ID card plans in the U.K.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Civil liberties campaigners say they have “very real concerns” about government plans to create a new national database which may carry details of citizens’ fingerprints and iris scans.

The UK Passport Service and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency have set up a working party to discuss merging their records to help the Home Office’s plans for a compulsory national identity card.

Roger Bingham, of pressure group Liberty, expressed misgivings about the proposals and called for more consultation during the decision-making process.

“It’s not at all clear what they need this information for, what they plan to use it for and who will have access to it,” he said.

Mr Bingham said information given “in good faith” to one agency could be used by another without a person’s consent.

Home Secretary David Blunkett announced in February that he wanted feedback on proposals for a compulsory card which would show if the holder was entitled to receive state services such as the NHS, education or benefits.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The concept is to create a new database containing identity information and possibly biometric information if appropriate.”

To ensure “universal coverage”, a new card may need to be issued to everyone, as not all UK residents hold a passport or a driving licence.

Alternatively, a third type of card could be introduced purely for those who do not already hold one of those two types of ID, he said.

Asylum seekers are already issued with an electronic entitlement card containing a mini microchip which holds a wide range of information, including a complete set of fingerprints, a digital photograph, and serial numbers.

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