Gordon Brown sticks to his guns over national ID cards

Prime minister Gordon Brown has again defended the introduction of national ID cards, in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

Prime minister Gordon Brown has again defended the introduction of national ID cards, in a speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

He told an IPPR conference yesterday, "I believe it [a national ID card scheme] can make a powerful contribution on an individual level to our personal security.

"Opponents of the identity card scheme like to suggest that its sole motivation is to enhance the power of the state. But, in fact, it starts from a recognition of the importance of something which is fundamental to the rights of the individual: the right to have your identity protected and secure.

"This is why, despite years of exaggeration about its costs and its implications for liberty, public support for it remains so strong.

"We must match our efforts to improve our security with stronger safeguards on liberty. We have no plans for it to become compulsory for people to carry an ID card.

"We have made this clear in the legislation - that the identity card scheme will not be used to place new requirements on people.

"But, on those occasions in everyday life where people already have to carry ID - if they want to prove their age, or open a bank account, or apply for a job, or register with a GP - it will provide a better, more convenient and more secure way of doing it, not just relying on a couple of utility bills. And in a way that meets a national standard."

Brown said a new generation of passports will require travellers to register their biometrics to protect against passport fraud, including digital photographs, finger-scans and, in some cases, iris scans. This was happening across the world, he said.

"The question is whether, in the interests of wider security, we should go beyond this to a national identity scheme - not just for passports, but also to help inside our borders in the fight against crime, illegal working, benefit fraud and terrorism."

Brown said the national ID scheme had been redesigned so that people's names and addresses will be kept on a separate database from their photographs and biometrics.

"I believe that the new plan for the ID card scheme, announced by the home secretary in March, includes important steps in the direction of the principle of 'data minimisation'.

"We are working with the information commissioner to ensure that he has full oversight of how this information is stored and protected and used," said Brown.

Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of anti national ID scheme group NO2ID, said, "Perhaps Gordon Brown simply does not get IT. He says he is satisfied the ID scheme "minimises information", when the reverse is the case - it is designed as a mass-surveillance scheme like nothing else on earth."

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