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British lawmakers narrowly back national ID card plan

[JURIST] The government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair [official website] won a key vote in Parliament late Tuesday on the proposed national ID card plan [official background; PDF text of the bill], but its 66-seat majority was cut in half with Conservatives and some Labor Party members voting against the measure. The proposed cards would use biometric technology in fingerprint, face, and iris recognition and would be the first ID cards in Britain since just after World War II. Opponents in the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties point to the government's projected $10.5 billion cost over the next decade and the risks posed to civil liberties as reasons for rejecting the plan. Liberty UK and other British rights groups also oppose the plan [Liberty UK background materials]. Blair maintains that the cards would combat fraud and slow illegal immigration [press release]. The bill will be debated further in the House of Commons then go to the House of Lords before it can be sent to the Queen and signed into law. Reuters has more.

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