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10 April 2010
Words: 2349 | Pages: 10
On 11th November 2003, the British Government announced its proposal to introduce a national identity card scheme to Great Britain.
In Ð²Ð‚ÑšIdentity Cards Ð²Ð‚â€œ The Next StepsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ a report published by the Home Office on the same day, the Government announce their reasons for the introduction of this scheme. They claim that advancing technology and greater global mobility is making it increasingly difficult to authenticate peopleÐ²Ð‚â„¢s identity. The consequences of this have been a substantial increase in; illegal migration and working, identity theft and fraud and organised crime and terrorism, which has resulted in increasing threats to our security and prosperity. The Government state that their proposal is part of a comprehensive strategy to contain these threats and to establish a more reliable way of authenticating peopleÐ²Ð‚â„¢s identity.
The Government plan intend to use Biometric introduce the scheme on an incremental basis, proposing that by 2007 all new driving licensees and passports will include biometrics data, with separate identity cards for those that do not hold either of these documents. They proposed that the scheme will be compulsory for all by 2013.
European countries that already have Identity cards include Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. However whilst the GovernmentÐ²Ð‚â„¢s proposals have received support from many members of the British public, there is also much opposition and controversy surrounding the motion. Whilst some feel that the huge benefits to society outweigh any potential negative effects, others greatly oppose the cards, believing that the effects could not only be disastrous, but also that the reasons put forward by the Government for the need to introduce cards would not in any way be resolved by the introduction and enforcement of them.
Within this report, the author has looked at the main arguments put forward by the Government and supporters for the introduction of the cards and also the main arguments put forward by those opposed to the cards and their reasons for this. Due to the topical nature of this subject, this report had been researched mainly from information sourced on the Worldwide Web and Government papers.
Following the terrorist activities in New York on Sept 11th 2001, one of the key arguments put forward by the Government for the introduction of ID cards is the increasing threat of terrorists and organised criminals and their theft of identities to aid their criminal activities. The Government argue that it is essential that they take steps to counteract this, stating: -
Ð²Ð‚ÑšTerrorists use false and multiple identities to help undertake and finance their activities in the UK and aboard. False and multiple identities are also essential Ð²Ð‚Ñštools of the tradeÐ²Ð‚Ñœ for organised crime to facilitate money laundering and also other crime which causes the most misery in our communitiesÐ²Ð‚Â¦Disrupting these activities is a key priorityÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Home Department, 2004; p7)
Sir John Stevens Head of the Metropolitan Police Service supports the Governments introduction of ID cards stating that he believed they were Ð²Ð‚ÑšessentialÐ²Ð‚Ñœ in the fight against terrorism and stressed that they should be introduced urgently. (2004).
Civil Liberty Campaigners and other parties opposed to Identity Cards, however argue that the cards will do little if anything to prevent acts of terrorism or crime. Chris Lawrence-Pietroni, Deputy Director of Charter 88 argues: -
Ð²Ð‚ÑšThe people who engaged directly in these recent acts were legally present in the United States and possessed all the necessary papers. It is hard to see how the existence of identity cards would have made their task any harder. As with passports, identity cards can and would be forgedÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (2004, p4)
Alan Simpson, Labour MP, Nottingham South supports this argument and makes the case that despite the rigorous enforcement of ID cards in both France and Turkey, they have had no impact on the of a reduction in crime rates or terrorism. (2004) Others take this one step further arguing that ID cards could in fact, make fraudulent activity worse, due to the false sense of security the card may create, through the over-reliance on one proof of identity Mike OÐ²Ð‚â„¢Brien, former Labour Home Office Minister sums this up: -
Ð²Ð‚ÑšÐ²Ð‚ÑœID cards can give people an illusion of security. We assume we can rely on them, which means we do not make other checks on identity. Once a criminal was in possession of a convincing card, it could paradoxically make crime easierÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (2004, p12)
Mr OÐ²Ð‚â„¢Brien points out the huge costs involved in the introduction and implementation of the cards, arguing that the money would be far better spent on more police officers and developing other security measures to prevent terrorism and crime.
The Home SecretaryÐ²Ð‚â„¢s announced that the of developing a biometric passport would be around