Friday, 30 January 2009

Manchester could become 1st city in the UK to have identity cards

During a visit to the city, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has stated that Manchester could be one of the testing grounds for the government's ID cards scheme. The Home Secretary, who discussed the issue with business leaders in Manchester Town Hall and at Wythenshawe’ Newell Green High School, said that the cards, which would cost £30, aimed to be 'less bother' rather than 'Big Brother'. The Home Secretary’s visit featured in a news forecast on Channel M and can be viewed here. During her speech at Manchester Town Hall she spoke about the ID cards’ benefits, e.g. better security at airports, better immigration control, “easier” proof of identity and a "secure and trusted environment" for the public's personal data. The scheme will be tested out in several "beacon areas" later this year to ensure that the relevant systems are operating smoothly, with the aim of then making them available to young people nationwide from 2010 and then adults from 2012. A list of the benefits of ID cards can be viewed here and general information regarding the ID cards here on the Home Office website.

However, the Home Secretary’s proposal and actions have been scrutinised by others. Dave Page, Manchester co-ordinator of the NO2ID campaign, said: "Jacqui Smith is trying to reassure people that biometric data is secure when she herself had her fingerprints stolen”, this relating to an incident in November 2008. Sabina Frediani, campaigns co-ordinator for Liberty, criticised Ms Smith for discussing the issue while visiting a school, "Schools are places for education not indoctrination.". Others are concerned about the security of the ID cards due to recent mass losses of data, e.g. Child Benefit, HMRC.

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