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National ID Cards Debated

15 January 2003

Richard Thomas, the new Information Commissioner is hearing the views of a cross-section of interested parties from the public, private and voluntary sectors on the government's draft plans for a national ID card - first announced in July 2002 - at an "invitation-only" conference in London today.

The conference offers one of the few opportunities for public debate on the controversial proposals and will examine if the benefits of the card - a reduction in the levels of fraud and simpler access to public services - sufficiently outweigh concerns over issues of privacy and data protection.

Issues of particular concern raised at the conference include the establishment of a "central register" of card holder, its security, and the amount of personal information that should be held, as well as the likely purposes this data will be used for.

The conference opens against the backdrop of controversy with on the one hand, Home Office Minister Lord Falconer claiming some two-thirds of the British public support the introduction of the ID card, but human rights group Privacy International have countered with figures indicating UK citizens are firmly against the proposals.

Privacy International's Director Simon Davies believes the Government "has failed to establish a convincing card for the card." He also added: "An ID card is costly, dangerous and unnecessary."

The Guardian reports the Home Secretary David Blunkett has announced that the national entitlement cards could cost around £20 each.

Richard Thomas has until the end of January to put together a formal response to the draft proposals.

Read the announcement from the Information Commissioner in full
Read the Privacy International announcement in full
Read the Guardian story in full

News provided by eGov monitor

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