The British government is facing more problems over its plans to introduce identity cards. Just a day before the scheme is returned to parliament for a vote, a report from the London School of Economics claims the cost of running it will be three times the official estimate. Opposition to ID cards in Britain comes in the form of those worried about the cost, but also those concerned about privacy and the thought of the government holding peoples’ personal information. The government will try to allay those fears in the House of Commons on Tuesday, but critics seem determined to put up a stiff fight. 28,000 have already signed a petition on one web-site, Say No 2 ID.Phil Booth, a spokesman for the group, said: “Most people are absolutely deeply and morally offended at the idea that the government is going to intrude right into their lives.” An ID card would be produced along with a 10-year passport that contains biometric data such as iris and fingerprint scans. The two would be linked to a unique database. The cards would be phased in from 2008 and made compulsory later.
The government says it will cost about 93 pounds, or about 140 euros, for the ID card and the biometric passport. But Shadow Home Secretary David Davis is not convinced. “People will see this as a plastic Poll Tax,” he said. “It could be a 100 pounds, could be as much as 300 pounds, for the documents including these ID cards and that is an extraordinary sum of money.” The government says the cards are vital to fight the likes of terrorism, health service fraud, and illegal immigration. But Eamon Coy from the GMB workers’ union says people are worried about privacy violations. “Is it the case that they are going to sell this database off for those firms to make profits from that database in the future?” he asked. “Can one imagine the implications of this personal information being handed out to all and sundry because of possible income generation to help the government out of the mess they have now got themselves in?” That concern has been dismissed by the government, although it does admit that the likes of banks and other companies will be able to register as accredited users of the database. They would pay a charge every time they wanted to verify someone’s details.