1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Identity cards.

Discussion in 'Legal' started by iapetus, Dec 27, 2003.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. iapetus

    iapetus Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Not about guns, but it is about freedom.

    My (UK) government wants to introduce compulsory ID cards within a few years.

    You can see what they are saying here: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/comrace/identitycards/index.html

    I hate this idea. I think it is a direct infringment on freedom, and opens the door for even greater infringments.

    I am intending to write to the government and my MP to express my concerns, and am trying to put together as strong an argument as possible. I would appreciate any input from people here.

    The text below is part of one document from the Home Office website, which looks at the public's opinion on ID cards. I've pasted in the part looking at specific arguments from the government and the public in favour of ID cards.

    The bold text is my comments of each of the arguments (many of which I think reveal very worrying attitudes). Ones in large fonts are ones that particularly annoyed me.

    The original document is at:


    General Public - Views For
    * Enhance sense of community - visible means to feel pride in citizenship
    * Psychological security - knowledge that we are properly accounted for by our authorities
    * Provides user with easy way to confirm identity
    * Proof of eligibility to benefits
    * Easy access to a range of services
    * Only object if something to hide
    * Will not infringe civil liberties
    * Help fight identity fraud
    * Costs
    * Proof of age
    * Shouldn't be a problem as we already have passports and driving licences
    * Help prevent illegal working and immigration
    * Internal travel identity requirements by airlines
    * Easy travel in Europe
    * Reference to having cards in the Second World War with no problems
    * Long overdue


    This was a common theme amongst those who favoured the principle of a card scheme.

    Incorporated in many of these views was the view that the card must be universal in order to be worthwhile.

    "The card scheme needs to be universal, with no "special category". We all share the
    burdens, responsibilities and pleasures of Citizenship. Targeted areas are untidy and
    ultimately expensive."
    Name supplied, Sussex

    I know who I am.
    I know what I am.
    I know who my ancestors were.
    (As half my ancestors have lived in this land for centuries, I feel insulted that I need a piece of paper to tell me that

    I belong here. As the other half of my ancestors came here to escape people killing them because they "don't belong here",

    I find this even more worrying.)

    I do not need a piece of paper to tell me this.

    If your sense of identity depends on a piece of paper, then it must be very shallow.


    Many comments were made that having only one card to carry as proof of identity would be much more convenient. There were

    also several references to the inconvenience of frequently being asked for proofs of identity, and having to carry such a

    range of documents. Easier access to benefits was frequently mentioned as a good reason for having an identity card.

    "Now isn't it just common sense and LOGICAL to sweep away all these and having
    to carry some of these and having to carry the ID card. Wouldn't it cut down on
    problems of identification."
    Name supplied, Lanarkshire

    A card was seen as a useful form of identity for those who don't drive and don't want to carry a passport book everywhere.

    True. But why force it on those who already have one or both of those. Why criminalise those who chose not to have


    This was a popular reason for wanting a card. It was felt that it would be genuinely useful and cut down waiting times for

    accessing services. It was felt that an ID card would be of great use to retailers and in pubs and clubs, which frequently

    demand to see official ID cards prior to admittance or service.


    Many comments refuted the claims that a card scheme would infringe civil liberties. Several comments were made discounting

    this notion. A frequent comment was that the only people who could possibly object to a card scheme were those who had

    something to hide.

    "Ignore the shrill cries of "what about human rights and personal freedom etc".
    Most of the planet does not have these luxuries!"
    Name supplied, Surrey



    "I totally refute the notion that it is an evasion of privacy, since we already have a
    birth certificate and N I number. I agree the card should contain biometric information
    against fraud otherwise there is no point in having a card."
    Name supplied, W Sussex

    "Police will not want to waste their time stopping everyone in the street just to
    inspect their ID cards. They have more important duties to carry out. It is only people
    who behave suspiciously who should - and quite rightly deserve to - fear. That is the
    purpose of having ID cards!"
    Name supplied (email)

    That assumes the police are (and remain) universally competent and fair.

    And why should anyone have to "fear" someone thinking they are "suspicious"?

    "Like my friends and acquaintances, I cannot understand how a law abiding citizen
    can object to the proposal or how they will limit or infringe my "civil liberties"."
    Name supplied, Flintshire

    This is a "Free Country", or at least I hope it is.

    And in a Free Country, if you are suspected to a crime, the Burden of Proof is on the Authorities. You are Innocent until

    They Prove otherwise.

    Being forced, by law, to prove something (e.g. who you are) flies against the principle of "innocent until proven guilty".

    Further more, if it is compulsory to carry the ID cards when outside (supposedly not the plan, but that could always be

    changed), then that effectively means you have to have permission from the government to leave your house, shop, etc. As

    well as giving the impression that the Authorities suspect you are up to something/ shouldn't be there, and require you to

    prove you are not a criminal.


    Many people considered that a card scheme would be an effective tool to help prevent identity fraud.

    "... I support the idea of ID cards if this would help reduce the number of victims of
    fraud, and its cost, and help catch those guilty. Most of us already carry a number of
    different cards and often need some means of proving our identity."
    Name supplied, Cambs

    Putting all your ID on a card seems like a risky way of preventing fraud or ID theft. Forgers and hackers always

    eventually find a way round any copy-protection, and the more "fool-proof" the ID cards are, the more damage will be done

    when someone inevitably cracks them. (I'm sure far fewer people would have drowned if the Titanic hadn't been advertised as


    PS: I was talking to a friend about this last night, and he pointed out an even simpler way round it. Just bribe whoever

    issues the cards.


    On the costs of a card, several people commented that they would be willing to pay for their card as it would be genuinely

    useful to them and would be worth the money.

    "... if people pay for one they would certainly use it, it would give the card authority."
    Name supplied, Co Durham

    Others commented that although they wouldn't mind being charged for a card, they felt that exceptions should be made for

    those in receipt of benefits and elderly people.

    Lots of things are "useful", and people are willing to pay for them. Doesn't mean everyone should be obliged to buy them,

    especially if they disagree about them being useful.


    Having a card as a ready means of proving age for age-restricted goods was very popular. It would help to restrict access

    to these goods. The sale of fireworks to underage children was frequently mentioned.

    i) We already have various means of proving age.
    ii) Shopkeepers can already ask for proof of age, and refuse to serve people without it.
    iii) Shopkeepers can also forget/decline to ask for proof, or serve people they know to be underage. Compulsory ID won't

    change this.

    iv) This also shows how ID can be used to (and indeed, is intended to) deny people goods and services if the government

    doesn't think that sort of person should be allowed them. Which is fine, as long as the government is reasonable. Which it

    may not always be. And if its not, that becomes unacceptable control over the behaviour of the people (also known as

    tyranny). I maintain it is extremely dangerous to build the infrastructure of a police state, merely because you hope none

    will misuse it.

    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of

    - Thomas Jefferson


    As a follow-on from views that a card scheme would not pose any threat to civil liberties, many comments were received on

    the fact that we already have identity cards in the form of our passports and driving licences. Therefore, it was considered

    that the concept of identity cards was not something entirely new for people to get used to - it would simply be an official

    recognition that these documents prove identity.

    There was also the view that a lot of information is already held about people on databases anyway, so the introduction of a

    card scheme would not alter this aspect, and therefore should not cause concern.

    i) Why should be forced to pay for an ID Card, when - as you say - we already have means of proving identity?
    ii) But more importantly:
    I am currently FREE to move about without a passport or driving licence. Doing so does no harm to anyone. But with

    Compulsory ID, I would be FORCED to carry ID, and CRIMINALISED if I did not.

    It was considered that the introduction of a card scheme on a universal basis would put us on the same footing as other

    European countries and make the UK a less desirable destination for illegal immigrants. It would also make it harder for

    those already here to access services illegally.

    "I consider that all foreign nationals should be obliged to hold such cards if working
    in the UK. In view of the limited work involved in applying for such a card this should
    not deter in any way those wishing to work here legally."
    Name supplied, Shropshire

    Obviously, when compulsory ID cards are introduced, those who knowingly employ illegals, don't check work permits, or pay

    in cash to avoid tax/ NI/ minimum wage laws will suddenly come over all law-abiding.

    (And besides, the concept of "illegal working" has always struck me as an inherently authoritarian idea).

    "...make the UK a less desirable destination for illegal immigrants..."
    Good one, Blunkett. The sure-fire way of deterring illegal immigration. Just make sure our country is an even more

    totalitarian state than Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever else they're coming from.


    There were comments from people who have been asked to provide identity documents for internal flights, which has proved

    very inconvenient, especially to those without a current valid passport or who did not wish to the passport book around.

    Just having a passport card as eligibility to travel instead of having to carry the book was popular.

    That just does not make sense. "Having to prove ID makes travel abroad inconvenient, especially if I don't want to

    get/carry a passport. Therefore I (and everyone else) should be forced to carry ID". ***?!

    "I still have a French Carte de Sejour from when I worked there last year, and have
    found it invaluable as a photo-ID and travel document."
    Name supplied, London


    The fact that there was a card scheme in the war, which was viewed as being successful and useful was highlighted by several

    people as being a good reason for having one now.


    The introduction of an identity card scheme in the UK being long overdue was a comment which appeared frequently in

    correspondence from those in favour of a scheme.

    Only true if ID is actually a Good Thing.


    Some comments were received from people confirming they would only support a scheme if it was compulsory, as this would be

    the only scheme that would be worthwhile. However, others commented that a voluntary scheme was better than nothing.

    There was a degree of understanding in the responses that the Government may not be in a position to decide and announce the

    full details of how the scheme would work right at the beginning and there would be a degree of development as the scheme

    went along, without this implying anything underhand.

    "I agree that Parliament will have to be asked to approve a card scheme without a
    complete description at the time as to the full range of its potential uses. It might be
    possible to arrive at a list of subjects that could be covered by secondary legislation,
    but even then it would be difficult to foresee all likely eventualities."
    Name supplied, Gloucestershire

    Facilitating new ways of voting was also mentioned as a potential advantage of a
    card scheme.

    There was some concern amongst those in favour that the scheme would take too long to implement and would become a "project

    destined to be shelved". It was generally felt that the issues a card scheme would address need to be tackled sooner rather

    than later.

  2. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    If I were English, I'd emigrate.
  3. trooper

    trooper Member

    Feb 19, 2003
    A small police station out in the German countrysi
    Just a question from somebody whose country has compulsory ID cards...

    Which infringement of your rights do you exactly expect? I'm not trying to spark up a debate, I'm just curious because I've lived with an ID card all my life since I was sixteen, and didn't feel the least oppressed :)

    BTW we're not required to carry it around.


  4. clubsoda22

    clubsoda22 member

    Jul 16, 2003
    SE PA
    Yes, my country has compulsory ID's...that is, the USA.

    They're probably gonna start the entire population soon as their allready making the kids comfortable with it. I had to carry a school ID on me at all times in high school. From what i hear it's got worse. In many school districts all students from elementary school up have to wear their ID's around their necks.

    As a side note, somewhat related, my dad has his old social security card that says "not to be used for identification purposes" printed across it, as they all used to. My how things have changed.
  5. artherd

    artherd member

    Dec 7, 2003
    An Elevated Position in the Bay Area, PRK
    Sorry, my only responce is to buy a ????load of ammo, and chamber every weapon I own...

    Trooper- I say this with all due respect, I suggest you avail yourself of a history book or three.

    In the US our Social Security cards were 'not for identification purposes', at least, that was the promise. Now Social Securiy isn't (it will not be around when I am elligible.) and all that is left is a number we are imprinted with, for, yes, identification purposes :fire:
  6. jamz

    jamz Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    Seacoast NH
  7. agricola

    agricola Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Office of the Holy Inquisition, Vatican City
    oooh - zedicus light
  8. greyhound

    greyhound Member

    May 17, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    Of course, in the US we say we don't need identity cards, but try cashing a check, opening a bank account, or buying a house without official, government issued ID (admittedly issued by individual states and not the Federal govt.)

    As an aside, how the heck did people ID themselves before Drivers Licenses came around (1920s? 30s?)?
  9. iapetus

    iapetus Member

    Dec 12, 2003

    My main objections are:

    1) The compulsion itself.
    2) The principles embodied by "Compulsory ID".
    3) Where it could lead.

    1) The Compulsion.

    I don't like the idea of being made a criminal (with associated problems like fines, jail, etc) just for not buying a peice of plastic with my name and number on it from the government.

    Now, I admit that having to buy this card is quite a minor expense and inconvenience, and as infringments of rights go, quite a "small" one.

    But its a small step across a dangerous line, and one that should not, IMO, be crossed.

    "It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once."
    - Hume

    (Hmmm... I like that. I think I'll put that in my sig)

    2) The Principle.

    Compulsory ID suggests to me that:
    * The Powers That Be don't trust you.
    * They think you're "up to something", and need to prove otherwise.

    IMO, this goes against the notion of "innocent until proven guilty".

    And certainly, a lot of the sheeple that speak out in favour of ID seem to think like this, as they usually shout things like "If you're against it, you must have smething to hide!".

    3) Where it could lead.

    Once everyone has, and is obliged to have ID, it would be very easy to make new laws that further restrict freedom.

    One way would be to make it compulsor to carry them at all times. In practical terms, that means that anyone who forgets to take it with them, or loses it, would be criminalised. And in terms of principal, it means you have to have permision from the government to go out/ move about, which in turn means that the all the land belongs to the government, not the people.

    And I have actually seen letters writen to tabloids, or heard callers on TV/radio phone-ins, saying that "to prevent terrorism", anyone buying anything should have to present ID, and a record would be made of what they buy, so the police could spot "suspicious patterns".

    Now, I'm not saying the current government will do this (in fact, I'm almost certain it won't).

    Nor am I saying the next one (or the one after), will either. (I think it's very unlikely).

    But the possibility is there, and I don't think that is something that should be risked. (Especially given the attitudes to freedom of many of the ID supporters).
  10. Hkmp5sd

    Hkmp5sd Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Winter Haven, FL
    Yep, the U.S. Social Security number is our defacto national ID card. As mentioned, without one, you can't get a job, buy a house, open a bank account or do any of a long list of activities. It has replaced the "serial number" in the military for IDing troops. The IRS won't even accept your income tax forms if your toddlers don't have their SS number yet.
  11. hammer4nc

    hammer4nc Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    To elaborate on hkmp5's theme, the US federal govt. has been forcing the merger of state driver's licenses with the national SS# database. I suspect biometric data will be the next requirement. This article talks about privacy concerns/identity theft dangers. Most of the advocates (including federal judges) dismiss the fears with the assurance "trust us".

    My comment: A national ID database is only one facet of the larger "big brother" concept. Good case in point is the recent murder of federal prosecutor Jonathan Luna, which anyone can search. In an attempt to solve his murder, investigators looked at ATM transactions, electronic toll records, emails from his computer, store security cams, among other things. The result was somewhat surprising (i.e., secret life). So, as these monitoring points become more pervasive, so too, will the ability to abuse them. BOHICA!


    Collection of Social Security number for licenses raises ID theft fears

    The Associated Press
    12/26/2003, 2:37 a.m. ET

    LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan residents will be forced next year to give their Social Security numbers when applying for or renewing their drivers' license, raising fears it will open up new avenues for identity theft, the nation's fastest-growing crime.

    Ending a long dispute with the federal government, the Michigan Secretary of State's Office will begin collecting the numbers some time next year.

    It will take four years to collect the information, The Detroit News reported.

    State officials say they have no choice but to begin compiling the numbers on computer. The number will not appear on the license, but will be kept on computer file.

    "While the secretary shares reservations about privacy, she intends to comply with the requirement," said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land.

    Judith Collins, a criminal justice professor who heads the four-year-old Michigan State University Identity Theft Partnerships in Prevention program, said the impending new state database does increase concerns of more identity theft.

    "Contrary to what many people think, the majority of identity thefts are not stolen from receipts in Dumpsters or from a person's wallet or purse," Collins said. "The majority of them are committed in the work place. Computers don't commit identity theft, it's the people who have access to the computer — employees or those impersonating employees."

    The state has been required to compile the database as part of the 1997 Welfare Reform Act. It is designed to deny drivers' licenses to parents who have not paid child support.

    States that refuse to collect the numbers face the loss of federal dollars, which in Michigan's case was a potential loss of nearly $1 billion annually.

    Beginning in 2000, then-Secretary of State Candice Miller said that while collecting past-due support payments was a laudable goal, the invasion of privacy trade-off was unacceptable. She said the information was already kept on computer by the IRS and said that agency would be ideally suited to crack down on deadbeat parents.

    After twice being rejected for a state exemption from the requirement, Miller sued the federal government. But in October 2001 Judge Robert Holmes Bell of the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids dismissed the suit.

    Patti Nelski, 39, of Carleton, an identity-theft victim isn't pleased about the development.

    "The state is asking for more trouble then we already have, and using the Social Security number in a new database is totally ludicrous," she said.
  12. UnknownSailor

    UnknownSailor Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Bremerton, WA
    Well, all I have to say is, if Michigan hadn't got themselves addicted to Federal money, well then, maybe they could go and tell the feds where to stick it, then, right?

    Same thing wil a lot of Federal money. Lots of strings attached.

    Just once, I'd like to see a state get up the gumption to tell the Feds where to stick their money.
  13. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Well, carrying your mandatory ID card around certainly beats having a number tattooed to your wrist, doncha think?

    Its the same thing of course, just a little less degrading.

    Easier to borrow someone elses ID# as well... until they include codified retina scans or somesuch...

    Its a Brave New World (to coin a phrase) :scrutiny:
  14. californian

    californian Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    it's nice to be anonymous. (but i don't want criminals to be anonymous)
  15. trooper

    trooper Member

    Feb 19, 2003
    A small police station out in the German countrysi
    Well, I can only speak about our own experience...

    Here's our situation:

    1. It's not mandatory to carry them around, and it can't possibly be according to numerous rulings of the German Supreme Court.

    2. There is no giant database of all card holders because they're issued by the local authorities, and said databases exist on municipal level only. Most things are rather decentralized here so that we won't get another Hitler :) Which makes it darn difficult to even locate a person if you don't know the area he lives in.

    The way I see it our ID cards fulfill pretty much the same function as SSN or driver's licenses in the US. They include the same information that's in your passport plus your address.

    I don't like to be thought of as a potential criminal either, but I think it's a bit far-fetched to attribute this to compulsory ID cards. By the same logic the gov must think of all of us as potential hit-and-run cases because we are required to put license plates on our cars...


  16. Peetmoss

    Peetmoss Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Syracuse NY

    I am in favor of student and employee id cards in school districts. I have been trying to get them for years. Ever since a sherrif thought I was breaking into the school while replacing a window at 3am. Didn't really like looking down the business end of a gun much. An ID card is better then keys if one is lost you don't have to rekey everything just kill the card and issue a new one.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page