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Blunkett Backs Down on UK ID Cards

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the it's-all-on-my-card dept.

Privacy 374

Anonymous Brave Guy writes "Some people don't like the civil rights concerns. Some think they'll cost too much. Some think they'll lead to more identity theft than identity verification. Some think governments can't manage big database projects and there are bound to be mistakes and over-runs. Any way you look at it, compulsory ID cards have a lot of potential drawbacks, so is the UK's Home Secretary, David Blunkett, starting to back down from the idea? Combining ID cards with passports and driving licenses was the key way to force them on an often unwilling UK population, and seems to have gone for good, but apparently legislation to bring in some form of ID card is still likely in the next Queen's Speech. Is it the beginning of the end of a bad idea, or just more spin to dodge the remaining concerns?"

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wah? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650682)

holy crap

Re:wah? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650720)

Indeed!

i was thinking about them today... (5, Insightful)

johansalk (818687) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650716)

Well, ever the thinker, I was thinking about them as I was admiring our little society today as i walked through a typical UK small-city center. No, keep ID cards and militarized police with their guns away from our peaceful, naturally liberal spots.

Re:i was thinking about them today... (5, Insightful)

TuataraShoes (600303) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651324)

With ever increasing requirements to have your identity recorded by government, shown on demand, and your actions tracked... there is a fundamental shift in the relationship between the people and the state.

GOOD
  • Government must serve people
  • Policeman at door must identify himself to citizen
  • People left alone to prosper - no presumption of guilt
  • Government accountable to people

BAD
  • Government monitor people
  • Policeman require people (doing nothing wrong) to identify themselves
  • People tracked to see if they are doing anything wrong
  • People must justify themselves to government

Ask yourself, who serves whom?

Re:i was thinking about them today... (3, Interesting)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651338)

To put it in British terms: are they citizens or subjects?

-jcr

Amen to that (2, Interesting)

tgma (584406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651339)

I live in Russia, but have spent most of my adult life in the UK. When I go back to the UK, it is such a weight off my shoulders knowing that as I leave the house, I do not have to worry about whether I have all my documents with me. At the moment, this includes: passport, visa, immigration card and work permit. In theory, I am in breach of the law, because my registration stamp is in my passport, and not on my immigration card. Of course, if the stamp were on my immigration card, there would be questions about why it is not in my passport.

Of course, foreigners have to register in the UK as well. But it's a lot easier to get the requisite stamps, and there is no requirement to present these documents to any policeman on demand. Whereas in Russia, policemen gather outside bars frequented by foreigners, in order to check their documents and extract a little late-night "foreigner tax". It's all about implementation - without safeguards, the system will certainly be abused. But better not to have the system in the first place.

I'm blindist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650717)

This sounds terrible - but I've always thought that a guy who couldn't see wouldn't really be able to grasp the full privacy implications of any aspects of government policy.

Re:I'm blindist! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650759)

Yeah! B/c the guy is blind means he can't conceptualize privacy. Asshat!

Bringing this back to the America's topic (-1, Troll)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650725)

National ID is anathema to Republicans, but would Kerry consider the idea if elected? He is popular abroad, where such IDs are common place...

Oh, well, another flamebait...

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650755)

I hope Kerry is popular abroad, especially if he thinks the German and French Armies are going to take the US' place in Iraq.

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (3, Insightful)

xlv (125699) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650802)

National ID is anathema to Republicans, but would Kerry consider the idea if elected? He is popular abroad, where such IDs are common place...

While I'm sure you enjoyed bashing Kerry, the fundamental difference between the US and Western Europe is that in most countries over there, the individual still has control over his/her data, meaning a company cannot resell the data without the individual's consent so having some form of national ID is not such a problem over there as it doesn't open the door to big corporations tracking your every move...

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (0)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650835)

The better question, would the American Founding Fathers and Mothers go for this idea? What would they think? Were the Founder 'Parents' for or against big government?

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (0)

russint (793669) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650956)

As you may or may not know, the "American Founding Fathers and Mothers" are:
1.) Dead.
2.) Dead.
3.) Dead.

What they think or do not think doesn't really matter.

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (-1, Redundant)

Zemran (3101) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651112)

In general, dead people do not think...

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651213)

Were the Founder 'Parents' for or against big government?

I'd have to say that the answer to that is abundantly clear to anyone who's ever read the Declaration of Independence:

"He has erected a multitude of officers, and sent them forth to harass our people and eat out their substance".

-jcr

Re:Bringing this back to the America's topic (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651251)

You can turn the question around and ask if the lack of an official identification is a harm to your civil rights.
US is experiencing a lot of difficulties these days about registration of voters and there are used big resources to get voters to register as well as preventing them from voting by questioning their registrations.
I live in a country with a governmental register of all people in the country - and this has be running without any problems since the sixties. We all have a CPR number (Central Person Register number) that is assigned at birth (or at immigration) and will follow us till we die. We have no ID card as such but the number is used in all contact with the government, municipal, etc.
But the best thing is that voters cards are just printed out before any election, countrywide or local. These cards are presented when you want to vote and by such identifies the voter and prevents any voter for casting more than one vote.
This is a rather simple approach and is probably why we can maintain above 80% in vote rate at the elections for the parliament. And just as a side note: The system has been a great success and has been exported to many other countries throughout the world. Maybe US should show some interest in it ;-)

This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (4, Insightful)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650726)

There was an old british show called Yes Minister. It was on the air from 79-81, and it was about a newly apointed minister in the british government (like a cabinet secretary in the US), and satired how politics ran, with pandering and incompetitant politicians and the civil service who really ran the show, but had to make the politicians feel like they were in charge and so on. It's quite funny. Anyways, back in 1980, they were discussing the creation of this national database and they had already run though how it was going to be a disaster and nobody would like it and such. It's interesting how when they could see the problems that would arise from this system 24 years ago and spoof it on TV, that it would take to long for the government to catch up to the BBC.

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (-1, Offtopic)

The Islamic Fundamen (728413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650728)

What matters most is that the Redsox's won

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (4, Funny)

aaza (635147) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650798)

Reminds me of a conversation between Sir Humphrey and Sir Desmond (both of "Yes, Minister")

Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Surely once a Minister has made his decision, that's it, isn't it?
Sir Humphrey Appleby : What on earth gave you that idea?
Sir Desmond Glazebrook : Surely a decision is a decision.
Sir Humphrey Appleby : Only if it is the decision you want. If not it is just a temporary setback.

I want to know if this decision is a decision, or a temporary setback.

quote found on imdb's "Yes, Minister" quotes section [imdb.com]

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (-1, Flamebait)

nels_tomlinson (106413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650811)

... it would take to long for the government to catch up to the BBC.

Hate to pop your bubble, but the BBC is the British government. Well, it's an arm or subsidiary of the government, at least. So, for the Americans in the audience, it's like saying: ``The government caught up with the Post Office.'' Technically, they aren't the same, but practically, there isn't enough difference.

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651074)

Not quite. Whilst Americans might believe that any government owned organisation does nothing but back up the government, those of us elsewhere no otherwise. The BBC, and Australia's ABC, whilst being government owned, have a hell of a lot of control over their own affairs. Here in Austrlia, the ABC, along with SBS (our multi-cultural channel), of our media organisations, are by far the most likely to be unbiased in their coverage of events. Hell, there's a lot of content on both that's incredibly critical of our government - content that none of the commercial channels would even consider showing.

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (2, Insightful)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651192)

Agreed. Want an example of that? The War between the BBC and our Government over Iraq. It claimed the life of David Kelly and the jobs of a whole legion of BBC managers from the reporter who broke the story up to the BBC's managing directors.

I think the BBC is pretty independant.

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (1)

gregduffy (766013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650832)

Another show that is ahead of the times: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Sadly, well-pointed satire has always been a bee without a stinger.

Of course, there will always be something to make fun of ... but it'd be nice if it weren't always so easy.

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (1)

isometrick (817436) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650897)

Sattire does make you feel better, though. Makes you feel good that at least a few other people see the problems.

But maybe that just discourages change even more ...

Mrs. Thatcher... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651044)

...liked the show and thought it very realistic. I guess we now know just HOW realistic...!


(I wonder... Does Sir Humphrey Applebey read Slashdot? Is he Jon Katz' evil twin? Find out in next week's exciting episode...)

Re:This doesn't seem like a new conclusion (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651182)

Damn good show. Very funny. Apparently, it was Margret Thatcher's favorite program.

An Important Issue! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650734)

Krusty blew up Courtesy!
DTR is going to be pissed!

ID cards = bad idea (-1, Troll)

ntxb229 (542609) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650739)

They should just do away with them. The bartender should just take my word for it that I'm 21.

Re:ID cards = bad idea (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650764)

I know it maybe hard you USA-type folk to understand but, the world is not a part of the US but the US a part of the world.
The drinking age in the UK is 18 not 21!

Re:ID cards = bad idea (1)

BeeRockxs (782462) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650766)

Even with compulsary ID cars here in germany, I've never had a bartender ask me if I'm older than 16.
Heh.

Re:ID cards = bad idea (2, Funny)

gregduffy (766013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650976)

I think it's plain wrong that they require kids to have cars in Germany. Can everyone there afford cars for their kids?

I think not.

Re:ID cards = bad idea (1, Funny)

tarunthegreat2 (761545) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651087)

ID Cars eh? You have a flash a Merc at the door of club before they allow you to get in? That doesn't happen anywhere els...oh wait....

Samzenpus Backs Down on Effective Blurb Writing (0, Troll)

Infinityis (807294) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650740)

Some people have good English skills. Some people simply don't know how to organize their thoughts. Some people take forever to get to the point, and when they're done, you don't even realize what their point was. Any way you look at it, this blurb was poorly written. Is it the beginning of the end of a bad headline, or just more fluff to encourage reading the article?"

Moral: Liberty (5, Insightful)

BrianGa (536442) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650741)

It just goes to show that there are a lot of nice sounding reasons for us to give up some freedom and have it nickled and dimed to death, but there is one main reason to keep freedom and that is freedom. Unlike these other things, liberty is an end in itself - it derives from the fact that people are creatures of choice and not like the animals. There is no such thing as too much liberty ... it would be like saying that science is too rational.

Re:Moral: Liberty (5, Insightful)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650795)

Alas, this is a dying concept. Ask your average person on the street about a national ID card, and they use the "if you've got nothing to hide..." justification. Nowadays, people like to err on the side of perceived safety rather than liberty, and I fear the days of true liberty are numbered (or perhaps already gone). The unfortunate fact is that the pioneers of personal freedom would nowadays be branded as extremist [right/left] wing ideologues.

Re:Moral: Liberty (2, Insightful)

Goosey (654680) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650816)

A favorite quote of mine:
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

I agree with this dead dude, btw

Re:Moral: Liberty (1)

Zinoc (814847) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650817)

HMS Liberty was already sunk many years ago. People are now just wondering what happened to the old girl.

Re:Moral: Liberty (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650882)

There is no such thing as too much liberty

You obviously dont have kids. Jokes aside though there must be limits to everything, including liberty or we are straight into anarchy which is not all that good for us either. There must be a certain balance and regulation in society or else it implodes. The difficulty is in finding the balance that protects society without excessive constraint while at the same time ensuring that the system guardians cant easily overide the mechanisms for their own ends.

Nominally this is the purpose of democracy. Unfortunately nowadays politics has become an end in and of itself and political immorality together with the apathy of the masses is removing the last remaining checks and balances. Soon we will have the 'liberty' we deserve.

Freedom with no boundaries is no freedom at all (2, Interesting)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651130)

but there is one main reason to keep freedom and that is freedom.

So, ID cards take away the freedom? That's news to me. I've got a unique social security number on an ID card. It's required when I use public services such as health care, when I vote, to show that I am permitted to drive a car or that I am the owner of the bank/credit card when I'm making a significant purchase. And you know what? I like it. I like to know that requiring positive identification reduces health care fraud, that it's hard for someone to vote in my place or that it's risky for a thief to use my bank/credit card. No, an ID card is not the perfect solution, but it will do a lot of good.

This talk about people losing their freedoms if ID cards are issued is just a lot of hot air and a non-issue. It's an extremist, all-or-nothing attitude that's bordering on religious fervor and hysteria. Such ideals are hardly ever practical or even beneficial in real life.

There is no such thing as too much liberty ... it would be like saying that science is too rational.

Well, as a scientist I don't think a purely rational approach to problems would work as well as the present intuitive/rational-combination.

Saying that there can not be too much liberty is nonsense. Freedom is essentially defined by the few boundaries we set to it. No boundaries, no freedom.

Differs from a drvier's license, how? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650768)

I already have an ID that I carry everywhere. It is called a driver's license.

I don't see how an National ID card changes anything. Especially for a country like the UK where the driver's licenses are issued by the national government.

So one want to explain (in relation to driver's licenses):
1) How this costs me any freedom I haven't already given up?
2) How this is supposed to stop terrorism?

OK, if you want to solve other problems like (a) long haul truck drivers having multiple IDs to avoid insurance/ticket issues, or (b) the fact that we are running out of Social Security numbers and will have to assign babies the numbers of dead people, I am OK with solving things like that.

And, if it is just one more card I have to carry in my already crowded wallet (thank you gorcery store loyalty cards) ... well, then F' that.

But I fail to see how this is the end of the world or the world's saviour.

Re:Differs from a drvier's license, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650938)

Especially for a country like the UK where the driver's licenses are issued by the national government.

The UK is part of the EEA, and driving licenses issued in other EEA countries are valid here. National legislation attempts to restrict that to settlement date plus three years for newcomers, but it has never been tested in court. Given that EEA licenses are issued by 20-odd different governments with different systems it would be easy to slip in under the radar and stay out of UK databases.

Re:Differs from a drvier's license, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651007)

Hey, I learned somehting today.
BTW, whats the EEA?

Re:Differs from a drvier's license, how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651201)

EEA means the European Economic Area, the old name for the EU. But is it really possible to get a driver's licence from another country without being resident there?

You have a license to drive (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651070)

You think you should need a license simply to be alive as well?

Re:Differs from a drvier's license, how? (4, Insightful)

mogglestein (780583) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651221)

Because if you dont drive, you dont need a drivers licence. I walk around every day and don't carry any document that can legally prove my ID. Those rare days that I need to legally prove who I am (opening a new bank account for example, something I've only done twice in my life, or flying to some place, usually about twice a year) I take my passport. The police have (as far as I know) no legal right to stop me and demand that I prove who I am. Even with drivers licences I believe that if you get stopped without yours whilst driving you have 5 days to turn up at the police station with your licence in hand. Most people I think want ID for conveniance, since they percieve more and more places are requiring legal ID (how many bank accounts do you open a week?), security and fraud protection are rather woolly issues most people seem to see as more of a nother argument for rather than a personal pressing issue, where is conveniance is more personal issue. If this makes sense.

Re:Differs from a drvier's license, how? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651243)

Being a yank this will probally blow your mind but...

A *hugh* proportion of people in England DO NOT DRIVE.

The reasons for this are pretty understandable.

Petrol in England is really expensive, at around four times what it is in America. There is a reason why Europeans do not drive SUV and prefer same economy numbers like a Golf etc.

Traffic congestion is a major problem, with london being in almost constant gridlock and there being almost nowhere to park anyway.

There just isn't the association with, driving == freedom, or driving == coming of age, that Americans seem to have. Partly because of the above reasons but also because it is a completly different culture in England with sad wankers like trainspotters taking the place of rice boyz etc. Even though the public transport system is a nightmare (although I have never used public transport in America).

And Distances are not that great anyway. You could probally travel from the northest point of England to the south in a couple of days depending on whether you count Scotland or not.

Saying that a ID card is not needed in England because everyone drives and hense has a drivers license is like saying that they should have built Windsor castle closer to the airport. Not everywhere is some cultural bastardisation of American, Yet. /me sniffs and turns up his nose

Who am I? (1, Insightful)

jbrelie (322599) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650775)

I don't think that a nat'l ID is such a bad thing. Most people already carry multiple forms of ID anyway. A standard would make it easier. Case in point, my friend doesn't have a driver's license, and many bars have turned down his state issue alternative, becuase it's not familiar.

The key element is with how it's used. I don't want to have to swipe my RFID ID to use the pisser at the mall. There needs to be rules about how and when an ID can be required.

Yeah I know that this is a UK topic, but hey, at least I spoke [typed] generally.

Re:Who am I? (4, Insightful)

nels_tomlinson (106413) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650848)

Most people already carry multiple forms of ID anyway. A standard would make it easier.

With a single form of ID, there is a single point of failure. When the One True Database has bad data about you, you will be screwed. If the One True Database says that you are a sex offender, then you are.

Furthermore, since the One True Database is always right, by definition, you will find it harder than ever to fix those mistakes.

Government inefficiency is the most immediate bulwark of our freedoms in the U.S. We don't want to risk eliminating it.

Here's a useful litmus test: if something would make life harder for would-be terrorists, it's going to take away freedoms we can't afford to loose, and the government wins. That's worse than letting the terrorists win, since the government has the ability and moral authority to kill far more of us than the terrorists could ever dream of hurting.

Re:Who am I? (1)

jbrelie (322599) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650965)

No offense, but I think you're jumping the gun here. Who said anything about taking away every other form of ID? Picture a laminated social security card with the same layout nationwide and a picture of the cardholder. That's what I'm talking about. There doesn't have to be any Tolkien/Orwell/Wachowskiesque computer overlord.

Re:Who am I? (2, Informative)

mdecarle (756338) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651051)

Oh-oh. Here comes Belgium again.

1. We have a national-ID card. This contains the State Register Number, name and address and marital state (reissued every few years - soon an e-ID !).

2. Then there's the driver's license, has your name but not address (never reissued, except when it changes).

3. But we also have a SIS card (Social Identity System), that contains information on deseases you have and medicins you normally take (this aids if you're at the pharmacy, and you want prescription drugs without prescription - if you normally take them). Already electronic, does not get reissued (data changes). This card helps when you get to a hospital (like after an accident) and the doctors check your card, see your health-status, and can treat you properly.

So, Big Brother lives in Belgium, I assume?

Re:Who am I? (4, Interesting)

tigress (48157) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651175)

And what makes you think that you can't get screwed over even if there is no "One True Database". In the UK, people are still being mistaken for criminals, in the states, even Senators [sfgate.com] are being stopped as terrorist suspects.

Here in Sweden, there's been a standard for ID-cards for several years. Any SIS-approved ID-card (such as, for instance, my drivers license, bank ID or postal ID) is valid for identification.

I have yet to see any lack of civil liberties resulting from this. On the contrary, our ID-cards, along with our personal numbers (think social security numbers, except better) make it easier to make sure who's who. And that's the point if it all, anyway. To let you tell others that you're the one that your ID-card says you are.

As for databases, well, there'll never be a "one true database" anyway. Different organizations will always have their own databases. A standardized ID will let them make sure who's who though, so that you won't get confused with that terrorist guy on the floor above, who just happens to share your last name.

Re:Who am I? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650932)

Much opposition to ID cards stems from a backlash against them after WWII; there is a feeling in the older generations that compulsary ID cards are one of the things we fought against.

Some people feel that it's worth it to avoid the hassles in proving ID when opening bank accounts or getting a drivers license, but I feel that overlooks the obvious point that these issues are under government control - is there really a need to produce three separate forms of ID before making a 1GBP deposit?

Many of the British technical community are opposed to the scheme on the grounds of the linked database. The government has thus far been vague about the content of this database, but budget overruns, security lapses and uncontrolled increase in scope seem likely on the basis of past history. For example, a recent NHS IT upgrade was slated to cost 2.3bn GBP over 3 years. The cost is now estimated to be 6.2bn over ten years, with a 12-24bn cost of roll-out [source [theregister.co.uk] ]. That's a fairly typical example of government IT project management, whatever the country.

It's also unclear why a central database is even needed; a card with a digital photograph cryptographically signed by a government authority would surely prove identity without the associated risks of identity theft and privacy loss that a database represents.

More Information:
PI FAQ on "Entitlement Cards" [privacy.org]
Register commentary [theregister.co.uk] (anti)
BBC [bbc.co.uk] (neutral)

The ID card system would have to be huge (2, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651140)

Seriously *HUGE*. Banks, Post Offices, Hospitals, Doctors, DWP offices, Police Offices would all need access and specialised biometric kit to demonstrate that the cards are valid.

An ID card system would be far far larger and more complex than the NHS IT system. The estimated 3 billion cost is a joke. A white elephant doesn't begin to describe it, a white Mammoth might.

You'll still be carrying multiple IDs (2, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651099)

You think that because you are issued an ID card that you won't also have to carry your driving license, your credit cards, your library card, your Rotary Club card?

No, it's an *additional* ID that you will have to carry.

Not only that. To be remotely effective it is an ID which it must be compulsory to carry, that means fines and jail time if you don't. The UK ID scheme requires that an individual register with the state *and tell it where you live*. You move house and forget to tell the government, you get fined. You don't tell them you also live at your girlfriends? That's an offense.

Re:Who am I? (1)

Harmfulfreeradical (800606) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651317)

Most Gulf countries have a single-ID requirement (e.g. Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman), even for expats. The only time you are *required* to use it is when you are asked by security officials to declare your residency situation. Other than, it serves to quicken government processes requiring one (or any) of the following: birth certificate, proof of address, health certificate, passport, photographic proof of ID. If the UK's uni-ID was designed to serve the same purpose (i.e. the swiss knife of IDs, so instead of having to bring in piles of photocopies and contracts, you'd just use your uni-ID), it wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Election next year - possibly (2, Insightful)

eamacnaghten (695001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650809)

There is a strong possibility there will be a general election in the UK next year.

Not that this has anything to do with delaying implementations of unpopular laws though....

Re:Election next year - possibly (1)

Zinoc (814847) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650863)

Not that this has anything to do with delaying implementations of unpopular laws though.... Of course not, that would be far too cynical :P

Labour will win anyway (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651170)

They already know that.

The election system is first past the post. That means that voting for anything but the 2 largest parties is a waste of time, and currently the Conservative vote is split between the Conservatives and the UK Independance party. This means that the Conservatives can't win. The Liberal party aren't large enough to win.

HTH

Privacy: West versus East (-1, Troll)

newsreporter (825651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650837)

The fact that England has strong opposition against the national ID card shows, yet again, why Westerners are different from folks like the Chinese and the Koreans. According to a recent article distributed by SlashDot [slashdot.org] , the Chinese in Hong Kong already have a national ID card. By 2005, the South Koreans will have a national ID card.

Chinese society and Korean society are failures because of the choices that the Chinese and the Koreans made. We should reject the false belief that the Chinese and the Koreans are just financially poorer versions of Westerners. On the contrary, the Chinese and the Koreans are radically different from us.

They embrace invasion of privacy.

Re:Privacy: West versus East (2, Interesting)

Arzach (692634) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650918)

Yep, no national ID Cards here in the good Ol' US-of-A. **** Item: Social Security Card # **** Item: Drivers License # **** Item: U.S. Passport # Just try applying for ANYTHING (college courses, credit card, library card, Blockbuster video card) these days w/o one of the above. Want a driver's license? Better be prepared to fork over your SS#. You want a passport? Besides having a U.S. Birth Cert, you need to have some other form of I.D. Such as a drivers license. Um, which requires (okay, at least in CA) you to provide your SS#.

Re:Privacy: West versus East (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651053)

Americans naturally have more privacy because they are more spread out.

Population in Hong Kong is jam packed, which allows 1 camera spying on 1 spot and watch 400 people.

Re:Privacy: West versus East (1)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651086)

Your post might have some merit if it weren't for the fact that it's entirely inaccurate. There are plenty of countries in the West that have national ID cards and plenty in the East that don't.

And are you really suggesting that Hong Kong is a failed society? Really? I bet that the average Hong Kong resident has received a better education and has access to better healthcare than the average American.

You come out with this sort of "them and us" bullshit and then you wonder why not everyone everywhere loves America.

Re:Privacy: West versus East (1)

tfoudray (584376) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651091)

While the parent post IS a troll, it does bring up a semi-common misconception. I currently live in South Korea, and was raised in America. While there are fundamental differences in the social fabric of South Korean life, it does not, by any means, mean they "embrace invasion of privacy."

In particular, The Korean (and other eastern cultures) people have a more group centered attitude than the ultra-individualistic attitudes prevelant in the west (specifically in America). Firstly, the western-centric 'My view is right' attitude is kind of annoying, but for the benefit of those who actually want to think about the implications of this kind of difference rather than just brand 'different' as 'bad', I'll expand on this idea, and what it means in terms of privacy.

Speaking and acting as a group is not an invasion of personal privacy. It is an embrace of social interaction. Humans, as a race (slashdot geeks being a notable exception..) are social. While westerners beleive more or less in the value of the individual, South Koreans in particular are more interested in the value of the group. I, as an outsider, have never felt that my privacy has been invaded or compromised. All I have noticed is that people are just plain nicer and less interested in backstabbing and personal profit than those I've seen in america, as a general rule (although there are certainly abberations in both America and south Korea).

I hope this clears up the parents' and anyone else's confusion on this matter.

Mod parent down (1)

tarunthegreat2 (761545) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651118)

This guy's a known baiter. Check his previous posts. He seems to be some idiot Japanese/American with a very bigoted view. Thank God not all Americans think like this fudgepacker.

My little conspiracy theory.. (1)

hools1234 (789912) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650842)

Well here is my little conspiracy theory... First its an ID card, then its RFID tags on food because it makes sense. Then RFID tags for pets because we don't want to lose them, because we love them. Then criminals because we want to be safe. All of this total common sense. Then we should tag hospital patients because it makes sense, helps make sure they get the right treatment. Then perhaps we should tag any known terrorist with some form of device... then tag everyone, have a one world economy, cashless society where we all pay electronically by just swiping our hand - because we all know credit cards are too easily stolen or lost. It makes sense. Well while we are at it, we should probably have one world government as well.. with social security numbers linked to our Microsoft Sender Id.. perhaps Bill Gates could be our president. It all makes sense... Except maybe the bit about Bill Gates. Big brother will be watching!

Feh. (2, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650870)

In France, it is compulsory to carry ID at all time; yet, France is seen as a beacon of Liberty and Freedom throughout the world, and if you tell a frenchman that his liberty is severely curtailed by that, he'll scratch his head and maybe ask for some explanation... France has 60 million of population; surely the problem can be scaled efficiently to handle 5 times as much people?

Anglo-saxon countries have those terrible hangups about State-issued ID (amongst other things), mostly for neurotic reasons that can be traced back to the magna-carta. Yet, such IDs can solve a lot of problems that are currently awkwardly and unevenly addressed; like drivers license, for example.

It's not everyone who can have one; blind people, those with motor disabilities or simply heavy cases of dyslexia (it's no good to mix the gas and brake pedals) will make sure that plenty of people will be oddballed by not having what is regarded as an ID-card.

The hodge-podge of US motor-vehicle registration systems (one in each State) make it so many different ways of doing ONE thing.

Banks clerks simply underflow their stacks when confronted by someone who doesn't have a driver's licence; they're simply not programmed for that.

And what about the misuse and abuse of social-security numbers? Video-clubs will ask for it to rent a goddammed DVD!!! It is not likely that a video-club will keep it's database as securely as a bank does.

France is the bacon^H^H^H^Heacon of what? (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650914)

taking liberties, did you say?

Heh.

Oh, sorry, that's ad hominem. Or something.

Re:Feh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650972)

Anglo-saxon countries have those terrible hangups about State-issued ID (amongst other things), mostly for neurotic reasons that can be traced back to the magna-carta.

No, Anglo-Saxon countries are just a little more pragmatic ;-) Ask yourself: "What benefit do I get from carrying official ID?"

The lazy answer is: "I can prove my ID when asked to do so."

The pragmatic Anglo-Saxon reply is: "Remember that having to prove your ID is a requirement set by a government in the first place. If the requirement isn't set, there's no need to carry ID and absolutely no benfit from doing so.

Re:Feh. (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650993)

Anglo-saxon countries have those terrible hangups about State-issued ID (amongst other things), mostly for neurotic reasons that can be traced back to the magna-carta.

I recommend you investigate the provenance of the phrase "Show me your papers." (Google is not your friend on this one, I tried.)

Neurotic, or another one of those "those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it" sort of things?

And what about the misuse and abuse of social-security numbers? Video-clubs will ask for it to rent a goddammed DVD!!! It is not likely that a video-club will keep it's database as securely as a bank does.

You falsely assume that people against state IDs are otherwise OK with the situation as-is and implicitly accuse them of hypocrisy. Speaking at least for myself, I am not happy with the situation as is, so no hypocrisy here. (Although perhaps not for the exact reason you think; some reasoning here [jerf.org] , but also, even though Social Security really isn't a national ID card, it is, as you point out, wildly unethical for entities unwilling to safeguard it to require it. Whether or not it is a "national ID" is irrelevant; the point is that it is a highly privacy sensitive information [jerf.org] (a term I define quite carefully), and for corporations in general to require it, but not respect and safeguard it, is very unethical. Going along with the writeup I link, the problem with a National ID card is it concentrates the privacy-sensitivity so much that no real entity can ever be responsible enough by my standards to handle that kind of power over me... therefore, it will simply be taken, against my will and with no compensation to me of significance. (And remember, ethically I set my price; this precludes the obvious comeback to that phrase.) Not a good thing.)

Re:Feh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651125)

I recommend you investigate the provenance of the phrase "Show me your papers." (Google is not your friend on this one, I tried.)

Not to give it away or anything, but you might try a search for "Papieren, bitte!"...

Re:Feh. (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651076)

France is seen as a beacon of Liberty and Freedom throughout the world

They are seen as a beacon of liberty only within France. Outside it's just France. You know, the nation that confused the Reign of Terror with political freedom. That was an imperialist colonial power within my lifetime. That even today takes children to court for wearing religious dress. Frankly [sic] the French have redefined liberte as whatever they want it to mean at the moment.

Re:Feh. (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651164)

Frankly [sic] the French have redefined liberte as whatever they want it to mean at the moment.

That reminds me so much of another country...

Re:Feh. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651271)

In France, it is compulsory to carry ID at all time;

Check your facts right. This is absolutely bullshit, the ID card in France is even not compulsory to GET.

Too Much Data on One Card? (2, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650875)

The article description claims this idea was sold to the English through the promise that it would replace other forms of identification. Speaking as one of those "evil" Americans, I must say that I would not want the US to create a national ID that would incorporate/obviate other forms of identification. It's already bad enough that so many places (like schools) use the US social security card number as a form of public identification, which is something the social security administration specifically warned against. That situation is improving, however. But if one's social security card, passport and driver's license were combined into one, the negatives would far outweigh the positives.

If the US were to adopt a universal ID like the one advocated for England, I could only predict a security nightmare. Rest assured that calls for a US national ID will be on the lips of so many politicians if (when) there is another terrorist attack. Yet, far from improving the situation, a national ID would make the US less secure. For one, a national ID would greatly simplify the counterfeiting process. And for another, thieves would reap infinitely greater illicit rewards for stealing wallets. I'm glad the English are rejecting their proposal. (Really scare derivative thought: a global ID! EEK!)

ID cards have *NOT* been scrapped! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650886)

Plans for ID cards have *not* been scrapped in the UK.

From the article....

Plans to combine new compulsory identity cards with passports and driving licences have been dropped by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

and then it goes on to say that .....

The legislation to allow ID cards is widely expected to be promised in next month's Queen's Speech.

So, all they have done is backed down on plans to combine ID cards with other forms of ID.

We will still have to get ID cards, and *pay* for the prililage!.....

But the Home Office said the prices remained unchanged: people would pay either £35 for a stand-alone ID card or £77 for a passport and ID card together.

WTF! I have to get this by law, *and* i have to pay for it. So it's a TAX then?!

ID cards are unnecessary. They are just jumping on the 'Total control prevents Terrorism' bandwagon, and we all know that's a load of BS.

This is why no one in the UK trusts labour anymore. The sooner GW's lap dog is kicked out of office the better.

National ID cards are a distraction!!! (4, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650890)

I keep hearing concern over things like a national ID card or other mandatory identification system. However, these sorts of worries just distract us from the real privacy concerns.

Pragmatically we already have national ID cards. Between drivers liscensces, passports and social security cards we have all the disadvantages of a national ID card. I can barely get through a day, much less a lifetime without these IDs.

The fact that I *could* theoretically get along without these cards doesn't mean anything. If I created a national DNA database (full DNA which could be tested for diseases) it wouldn't be okay if I allowed people to pay $100 to opt out.

Continuing to crow about things like national ID cards distracts from real issues of privacy. Defating national ID schemes gives us empty victories that make us think we are maintaining our privacy.

--

Personally I think maintaining privacy, at least in the traditional sense, isn't a viable option. Even if we win every legislative victory it is too easy to give corporations access to our personal data for a minor convenience. The fact that a few privacy minded individuals might avoid this net makes no difference in the big picture. Any societal harms will still occur even if 1% of society is not in any database.

Privacy, despite the name, is not a personal issue. The harms are not individual, accuring to you because your information is in a database but rather societal resulting from the fact that a large enough percentage of people are in databases.

Instead of fighting minor skirmishes against ID cards while our privacy is eroded behind our back we should try and minimize the negative social effects of privacy. The primary danger that erosion of privacy provides is that effective privacy will be availible only to the rich. This is already happening....cameras aren't put in well to do suburbs.

I contend this is the primary danger from losing privacy. Everyone does socially unacceptable things behind closed doors, be it smoking joints or having kinky sex. If we don't make sure privacy is lost by the well-off at the same rate it is lost by the poor we risk exagerating the problems we have in the war on drugs. Namely, where the poor and minorities are targeted, either legally or just by insurance companies and public opinion, for their 'inappropriate behavior' while the rich get a free pass.

Re:National ID cards are a distraction!!! (1)

pbettendorff (702344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651171)

As someone living in a country with mandatory IDs (Switzerland), the whole discussion is very amusing. Yes, I carry an ID all the time. No, I did not have to show it in the last six months to anyone. Usually, I need it for thing like opening a bank account and for contacts with the state.
However, when I had to stay for some time in the US, I was asked for ID on many occasions, like in the Supermarket when I wanted to by a couple of beers, or even in a video store when paying with a credit card.

Why? (3, Interesting)

themoodykid (261964) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650917)

Can someone explain why there is a push for ID cards of this sort?

Sure, we do have driver's licenses and passports, but are people wanting to combine them just in the name of efficiency or what?

On the other hand, what's so bad about having a card like this?

smart card vulnerabilities? (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650940)

like this [google.com] and this [javacard.org]

I'm a DBA for a large government (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10650963)

Some think governments can't manage big database projects

I take offense to this. Why, just the other day I managed the following:

SELECT * FROM the_people WHERE sex = 'female' AND marital_status = 'divorced' AND divorce_date >= date_sub(now(), interval 2 month) AND age >= 16 AND age Just doing my duty as a civil servant by catching them on the rebound.

3rd normal form? whats that?

Query optimisation (1)

Slashamatic (553801) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651085)

When you have a WHERE clause of
marital status = 'divorced'
isn't the clause
age >= 16
a little redundant (unless you live in certain southern states)?

The database is the problem, not the card! (5, Insightful)

Timo_UK (762705) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650966)

All the biometric data will be stored centrally, so the cops don't even need your card to find out who you are, the simply take a fingerprint. This is COMPLETELY different from German, French etc, cards and goes way beyond them. Why the media don't point that out is beyond me...

This is the 8th try... (2, Interesting)

TyrranzzX (617713) | more than 9 years ago | (#10650975)

I believe it's the 8th time they've tried to convince the UK people of this by announcing a program if my count is right, in the past 2 years. Apparently, all 33 million of them are giving the government the good ol' n' sturdy one fingered salute. They'll do mass protests and burn their ID cards they will. Now enough of them seem pissed off that the people in government are beginning to get the message that continuously forcing this kind of thing on them is wrong and won't work, time to change strategies. Kinda reminds me of the IP law for software that was forced, and forced, and forced for about 2 years and eventally signed in a very weak state.

Re:This is the 8th try... (5, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651077)

Actually, it's about 60 million, and it has been tried almost yearly since the 1950s. After the Poll Tax fiasco, though, the British are more confident about defeating unpopular Government measures through mass protest. Also, the British tend to regard national ID as an open invitation to dictatorship. (It gives one central authority far too much information about far too many people.)


Mind you, the British have changed their minds in the past. The reason Nynex laid all the cables in Britain is that British Telecom were banned from doing so in the 1940s. The reason for the ban was that cable networks were seen as dangerous, as in the event of a dictatorial Government, the media would be controllable from a central point. (It was also argued that if people didn't have radio receivers, it would be harder for resistance groups to communicate unobtrusively by radio.)


Today, of course, we wouldn't dream of having an unelected foreign Government dictate British policy, control British troops, invade British businesses, ... Oh.

Re:This is the 8th try... (1)

DJCF (805487) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651260)

hey'll do mass protests and burn their ID cards they will

I don't think they will - I mean, I personally don't know anyone who would - except for me. Well I hope we will, anyway. (Wouldn't want to be the only one doing the burning!)

non-story (1)

Fishy (17624) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651013)

This was never really going to happen, it was only a suggestion thrown around.

Really what kind of slashdot story is "not on the passport, but on another card"?

A good idea (2, Funny)

mrshowtime (562809) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651036)

A great way to get people to use this new id card would be to make it so that you could not be able to buy or sell without the id card, or a tattoo of the id card/w chip implanted.

Why are ID cards a bad thing? (5, Insightful)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651048)

The "If you've nothing to hide" and all that argument. Well, ask the Jews in Germany with the J stamp on their ID cards, or the Rwandans who were massacred because their ethnicity was mentioned on their card whether they thought they had anything to hide.

You may well think you have nothing to hide today, but tomorrow ID cards are the perfect discrimination tool, that is after all the whole purpose for an ID card.

Why ID cards are useless, or at least, the arguments given for them so far are bogus:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ican/A2561834

UK campaign against ID cards:
http://www.no2id.net/

Re:Why are ID cards a bad thing? (1)

tigress (48157) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651249)

I'm sorry, but that has nothing to do with ID-cards. If you're going to discriminate, an ID-card more or less won't stop you.

I'm asian, living in Sweden. Anyone who as much as looks at me will be able to tell. I'm legally allowed to NOT have an ID-card. Even if I got rid of all my ID-cards, there'd still be records about my ethnicity. There'd still be records with my address, phone number and so on.

Anyone determined enough would be able to tell that I support GLB-issues. Another point for discrimination. How would getting rid of ID-cards stop me from being discriminated about that? What if I was to hug or kiss another girl in a semi-public place? Would it matter if I carried an ID-card or not?

You *WILL* be able to be identified regardless of wether you have ID-cards or not. The issue is not about the cards, but on how you protect data that can be matched against you. Such data can be matched against you regardless of wether you have a national ID-card or not. Making it harder for organizations to match you uniquely only makes it more expensive to maintain such databases, and it increases the chances that your identity will be mistaken for someone elses. However, it does NOT stop anyone determined to find out details about you, merely makes it take a bit longer.

Re:Why are ID cards a bad thing? (1)

aCC (10513) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651336)

What a stupid and outrageous argument!

What about all the countries that *DO* have an ID card? Do the Germans still use their ID card to track down Jews or anybody else? How come they are quite happy to only have a small card instead of a passport to carry around. Do they really have less freedom than anybody else?

What about the Americans with their driver's license which is a defacto ID card? Are those used to find and exterminate anybody? Or the French with their ID card. Is it used to kill people on a great scale?

Unbelievable to what lows some people go to argue against something like this. ID cards might be useless or scary in some eyes, but don't argue against them by citing Genocides which made use of some identification of people. No Genocide needs any ID card to be carried out.

Misleading title of article. (2, Informative)

flokemon (578389) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651103)

Blunkett is not backing down on the idea of an ID card. There just won't be combined cards (ie passport + driving license + ID card) but a standalone ID card instead.
And it will still cost £35 and contain I don't know how much biometric data.

ID cards are great, because... (3, Insightful)

j.leidner (642936) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651127)

...they contain the same information as your passport, except for the vista stamps, just in a compact form that makes it easier to always carry it in your wallet. No need to remeber it anymore when you drive to the airport.

And if you're having a small car accident somewhere and both parties don't want to bother calling the police you can quickly exchage your (authenticated!) name.

In effect, the ID card is a downsized version of the ID card that is already part of EU passports (the plastic, machine-readable part). And there's no secret information stored on it either, because you can tell how the information is encoded in the two machine-readable lines of text:

  • The lead string "ID" to calibrate the card readers.
  • Surname
  • First mame
  • Number of the ID card
  • Country issued
  • Date issued
  • Expiration date
  • Checksum
Say Cowboy Neal was born in Britain on 1 January 1977 and had an ID card that expired on the UNIX epoch (just making this up), then his entry could read (assuming the British card follows the European model):
IDGB<NEAL<<<<<COWBOY<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
7101245447G B<<770101X<380119Y<<<<<<<Z
(X, Y, Z being check digits I can't be bothered to compute right this morning, and the spurious blank is inserted by ./ somehow...)

So it's very simple and transparent, no Orwellian tech built in. That's why I love my (German) ID card and always carry it (even in Britain) to give evident that I'm me (and not Elvis), fly around without having to remember did I forget my passport, and yet nobody can easily abuse the system.
A biometric passport, on the other hand, would be a completely different matter...

--
Try Nuggets [mynuggets.net] , the first UK SMS search engine. Answer your questions via simple text messages, all across the UK.

Re:ID cards are great, because... (1)

j.leidner (642936) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651145)

Of course I meant 'end of' UNIX epoch and ./, not /. ;)

You want a fake card? (1)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651211)

Cos I can get you one. It isn't difficult. Then you could prove you are anyone you want to be.

Look at already existing ID cards, why dontcha (-1, Flamebait)

Elkboy (770849) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651237)

Granted, conditions likely vary between nations, but still, why not look to places where ID cards are already in use? In debates about drug legalization, gay marriages and now ID cards, I can't help think you're making yourselves out to be more special than you are. There are many examples to learn from.

The UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651248)

As an inebriated American, I like the UK. Never been, but from what I hear it's nice. Granted, it seems your government is a little more iron-fisted than mine (at least regarding its own citizens), but that is bound to change following this next election. Us Americans will then join you UK(ians?) under the All-Knowing rule of some sort of Bilderberger/Bush/Rockefeller/Other-Family-Name plot. Hey European brothers (and sisters, of course), here we come!

The real reason... (3, Insightful)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651265)

Is it the beginning of the end of a bad idea, or just more spin to dodge the remaining concerns?

No silly - there is an election coming up.

ho-8o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10651283)

RAM) for about 20 OpenBSD. How many you have a play Users With Large Prima donnas, and market. Therefore, Dead. It is a dead about a project vitality. Like an aacording tothis

No he's not! (3, Informative)

Builder (103701) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651306)

He's not backing down on ID cards - in reality, we're moving away from voluntary and towards compulsory!

He's backing down on the idea of a combined card to serve as a drivers licence, ID card, etc. Instead, we will have to carry separate cards for each of these functions.

And the clever thing is the way that he is forcing them on us. When you renew your passport you will be forced to get an ID card as well. And you will have to pay GBP35 for the privilege! If you don't want an ID card, the only way to avoid it is to not get a passport - this is a problem for many of us who have to travel on business.

Re:No he's not! (1)

tigress (48157) | more than 9 years ago | (#10651337)

So, standardize the information. Make it so that the information on the card is the same regardless of wether you have a passport, ID-card or drivers license, like the way it's over here.

That way, you would only need EITHER a passport, ID-card or drivers license to identify yourself.
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