Liberty warns against expensive and invasive ID card scheme

06 November 2008

Policy Officer Isabella Sankey said:

"As millions of British families worry about food and mortgages, 5 billion pounds for ID cards moves from the ridiculous to the obscene. We have seen the stirring images of Americans choosing to queue for hours to register their vote. Our Home Secretary prefers the chilling picture of Britons compelled to register their fingerprints.”

The £5.6 billion compulsory ID card scheme has been unsuccessfully touted by the Government as a solution to identity theft, benefit fraud, crime, and terrorism, but is now being rolled out to targeted groups such as foreign nationals, students and airport workers.

Liberty expressed concern about the Government’s ability to safeguard individual’s intimate details on the National Identity Register after Government departments last year lost 30 million pieces of personal data, including those of 25 million child benefit claimants.

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128

Notes to Editors

Liberty’s principle concerns about the ID cards and the National ID Register include:
They will fundamentally change the relationship between individual and state.

They will have a detrimental impact on race relations and will adversely affect vulnerable groups in society.

They will intrude on privacy as the amount of information held on the database and the uses made of that information will increase dramatically.

The Government’s poor record on IT projects makes this a huge financial risk.

Liberty does not accept that ID cards will have any particular benefit:
They will have no impact on illegal immigration as asylum seekers have been required to carry ID cards since 2000.

Arguments that they will protect the UK from terrorist attack are unconvincing. The men responsible for the 9/11 and Madrid terrorist attacks had valid identification.

They will not help fight crime but will be counterproductive, as they will deflect financial and policing resources away from crime prevention and detection.

They will have minimal impact on benefit fraud, as this is usually about financial circumstances rather than identity.

Most identity fraud takes place remotely, online, over the phone or using false ‘seed’ documents (driving licences, passports and so on). Identity cards will not address this.