UK government steps back on compulsory ID card plan

[JURIST] A UK plan that would have required all citizens to obtain ID cards [Home Office backgrounder; JURIST news archive] when applying for passports by 2010 has been dropped [press release], the Home Office [official website] said Thursday. Under current plans, passports and driver's licenses will be considered acceptable alternative forms of identification for most UK citizens, although people in "positions of trust," such as security guards, will be required to have IDs by 2009. Foreign residents living in the UK will still be required to carry ID cards as early as November 2008. According to the new Home Office plan, all passport applicants will from 2011 also be automatically registered for ID cards when they apply for new biometric passports containing fingerprints; complete implementation of the national ID card system will not occur until 2017.

In January, the UK Identity and Passport Service said it would delay issuing ID cards [JURIST report] until 2010. The IDs are part of an effort to clamp down on illegal immigration [JURIST report] in the UK, but have met with criticism from both Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians who fear they will waste government money and infringe on civil liberties. The UK House of Lords and House of Commons [official websites] approved [JURIST report] the controversial Identity Cards Bill [PDF text; JURIST news archive] authorizing national ID cards in March 2006. BBC News has more.

 

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