Simon Davies

Parading under the banner of a common front for freedom, governments worldwide have embarked on a security clampdown whose political fallout could be more damaging than the threat it seeks to banish, writes Simon Davies.

The British government is pushing ahead with legislation for a national identity card despite widespread opposition from the media, politics, and the public. The proposed card would one of the most far-reaching tracking systems internationally and would make use of a range of biometric data. The system would combine national security and crime prevention functions with immigration and employment controls, and provide for administrative convergence throughout the public and the private sectors. Many see such a scheme as inimical to a perceived British way of life and point to the fact that in many countries identity card systems have been inherited from authoritarian regimes. However, most ID card systems internationally have built-in safeguards preventing violation of citizens’ privacy; the fact that a country has an ID card system does not mean its populace supports the type of system proposed in the UK. Learning from other countries’ experience with ID card systems would increase the likelihood of the British government being able to develop a more popular scheme.

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