Saturday, May 29, 2010

UK begins process to scrap ID cards

London: Britain’s new coalition government has begun the process of scrapping identity cards and destroying the National Identity Register, measures that the previous Labour governments had initiated to improve security.

The scrapping of the two Labourinspired measures will take place within 100 days under the Identity Documents Bill, which is the first piece of legislation introduced to Parliament by the coalition government. Home secretary, Theresa May, said: “This bill is a first step of many that this government is taking to reduce the control of the state over decent, law-abiding people and hand power back to them. With swift parliamentary approval, we aim to consign identity cards and the intrusive ID card scheme to history within 100 days.”
Deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg said: “The wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive ID card scheme represents everything that has been wrong with government in recent years. By taking swift action to scrap it, we are making it clear that this government won’t sacrifice people’s liberty for the sake of ministers’ pet projects”. The measures implemented by previous Labour governments were aimed at tackling fraud, illegal immigration and identity theft, but were criticised for being too expensive and an infringement of civil liberties. The cards were designed to hold personal biometric data on an encrypted chip, including name, a photograph and fingerprints. The supporting NIR was designed to hold up to 50 pieces of information.
Clegg said that cancelling the scheme and abolishing the NIR was a major step in dismantling the surveillance state. But he added that ID cards were just the tip of the iceberg. “Today marks the start of a series of radical reforms to restore hard-won British freedoms”, he said. The IDB will form part of a first wave of priority legislation set out in the Queen’s Speech on 25 May. The bill invalidates the identity card, meaning that holders will no longer be able to use them to prove their identity or as a travel document in Europe.
The government aims to have the Bill pass through Parliament and enacted by the parliamentary recess in August, in a move that will save the taxpayer around 86 million pounds over the next four years once all cancellation costs are taken into account.

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