UK National ID Card Debuts

UK National ID Card Debuts

During the 1990s, although the movement towards updated national identification cards seemed to die down, the period after the September 11 tragedy in New York seemed to revive the efforts. One such effort was the controversial National Identity Register (NIR) in Britain.

With the passage of the Identity Cards Act 2006, the transition to biometrics-based identity cards began. Government officials were pushing for the new identification cards and the use of biometrics data based on issues of national security and to decrease fraud. All new passports, as well as passports that were up for renewal, were to be issued with the new identification information. All new cards with biometrics data would include ten fingerprints, an iris scan and facial scan (known to us old schoolers as as “photo”), as well as all past and current UK-based addresses linked to the person.

The identification document is also slated to be usable throughout the Eurozone. By the way, some clarification for us “yanks”… Eurozone, not to be confused with Autozone where I can pick up some nice cool gear for my ride, is a currency union of 16 European Union member states which have adopted the Euro as their sole legal tender. This list currently consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

There was controversy over the compulsory nature of the cards. In addition, the creation of the National Identity Register caused unease among privacy experts as well as activists who were concerned about the security of such data, particularly with so much sensitive and identifiable information now available on the cards. In addition to the threat of identity theft, critics also charged that the cards would allow the government to spy on its citizens. Additional criticism came from citizens who were concerned about the cost of implementing such an ambitious program which supposedly is in the billions of pounds (sterling, not the fat kind).

Well… last week Home Secretary Alan Johnson unveiled the final design of this controversial national identity card and said the card will be offered to members of the public in the Greater Manchester area from the end of this year. The £30 ID card will be launched nationwide in 2011 or 2012, and will not be compulsory… for now… LOLz! hehehe

About the Author