Britain Presses On With Plans For Plans For ID Cards

Britain presses on with plans for ID cards

May 7, 2009

LONDON: Britain is to go ahead with controversial plans for identity cards.

People living in Manchester, in England's north-west, will be the first asked to volunteer to apply for the cards, which the Government hopes will help fight terrorism, organised crime and fraud.

Anyone living in the area who is over 16 and holds a valid British passport will be eligible and be able to apply for the cards by having their fingerprints and photographs taken at pharmacies and post office outlets.

However, by the end of the year, the cards will be mandatory for all new staff who start working at the city's airport.

Not everyone is happy with the new cards.

Airline pilots are to become the first group to refuse to take part in the national identity scheme when compulsory trials start at Manchester and London City airports.

The British Airline Pilots' Association, which represents more than 80 per cent of commercial airline pilots, is to mount a legal challenge to government plans to use “critical” aviation workers as the first compulsory “guinea pigs” for the scheme.

The cards, which will cost between 30 ($60) and 60 each, have been criticised by opposition MPs worried about the estimated 5.3 billion cost of rolling out the scheme while Britain is in recession.

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, was to unveil details of the ID card scheme overnight.

“ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists,” Ms Smith said in a speech announcing the plans.

The shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, described the Manchester pilot scheme as “nonsensical”.

“The Government is split down the middle on ID cards but it looks as if Jacqui Smith is carrying on regardless,” he told the BBC. “They should abandon this farce and scrap the whole scheme.”

Phil Booth, of privacy campaign group No2ID, said: “We are talking about a Government that cannot even look after the data of millions of people now asking your local camera shop to process sensitive personal data, including fingerprints.”

The Government expects the ID card program to be up and running nationwide by 2012.

AAP; Guardian News & Media;

Telegraph, London

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald