Time for Lords to sound death knoll on ID cards, says Liberty

20 January 2006

“After three years of scrutiny the Government’s case for the national ID
register has not convinced us that the intrusion on people’s rights is
warranted by the supposed benefits of the scheme. The Lords’ devastating
strike against the bill last week will be followed by what is hopefully
a fatal blow if they vote to ensure that ID cards are voluntary rather
than compulsory.”


Liberty Press Office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128


Notes to Editors


Liberty’s
principal concerns about the National ID Register and ID cards: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.


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


The
Identity Cards Bill is flawed: Too much detail is
retained for regulation. ‘Safeguards’ protecting against the need to
carry cards fall away when the cards become compulsory. Criminal and
civil penalties are excessive. There is no auditing process to ensure
information is accurate. Information sharing powers are too broad. The
Identity Card Commissioner has insufficient power.