UK National ID Card Pilot Scheme

The Home Secretary David Blunkett plans ID cards to be tested in 'a small market town' later this year.

According to the tender document for "pilot trial biometric enrolment" recorded in the TED supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union the trials aims are to

  • Test the capture of biometrics for use as a one to many identity verification through a simulation of the passport process;

  • Include exception cases, e.g. people who may have difficulties in enrolment;

  • Measure the process time and hence estimate costs;

  • Assess customer perceptions and reactions;

  • Assess practical aspects of incorporation of biometrics into a biometric database and the required secure links to the database;

  • Trial the use of biometrics to prevent duplicate identities;

  • Qualitative testing using a pre-populated database of anonymous biometrics;

  • Fingerprint and iris biometrics are to be tested for one to many identification. Facial recognition to be tested for one to one verification;

  • Report on findings of above along with issues and risks, and outline implementation plan.

The Guardian says,

"The Home Office confirmed last night that a six-month trial, testing the use of new generation fingerprint and eye-scanning technology, would be completed by April to "assess customer perceptions and reactions" and estimate costs. It is believed that the trial will be carried out in an as yet unnamed small market town with a population of about 10,000.

The Home Office insisted the trial was a test for the new "credit card"-style passport which is to be introduced by 2006, but it is thought that ministers have been advised they cannot openly test the national identity card without legislation.

The Queen's speech in November is expected to include a bill to introduce an ID card scheme, but the pilot is likely to be completed before the legislation reaches the statute book. A trial for the new generation of passports does not need legislative approval, even though the technology to be tested is identical."

"The decision to press ahead with a British trial of the ID technology comes despite the widespread assumption after Tony Blair's last press conference that it was unlikely to be introduced until after the next general election.

He said "in principle there is a case for Britain to move towards a system of ID cards", but there were "huge logistical and cost issues that need to be resolved". His coolness contrasted sharply with the enthusiasm of Mr Blunkett."

While there are undoubtedly advantages in the introduction of a National ID card scheme for the smooth running and efficiency of governmental services and for our collective security, there are serious implications for individual liberties.

A couple of civil rights links which focus on ID cards are Privacy International - UK National ID Cards,, STAND and of course Liberty. This collection of links about ID cards has some good jumping off points too.

Posted by Paul at August 27, 2003 03:28 AM |
Visitor Feedback

We have passports which cost a fortune already. If you introduce a national id card this should also double as a passport. This would reduce the cost to the British public by doing away with the requirement to have a passport in order to travel.

Further, the card should not be available to illegal immigrants and financial migrants who are already issued with an arc card bearing their fingerprint details, names and registration details.

It should be made harder for these free loaders to make their way across the free countries of Europe, where they could reasonably seek asylum, just to come here to live off our grossly unfair benefits system. My wife is 45% disabled and cannot get a penny, despite our national insurance payments. The so called asylum seekers get every thing they want having never paid a penny. Also my neighbour gets around 1000 every four weeks in benefits, he claims to have a medical condition that prevants him doing any form of work, but has just renovated his house and garden at our expense. He had a little help from friends, but if he can carry a sack of gravel he can work in the community. He dives an XR3i, where is the justice in this country

Further more, why do immigration officers have to offer asylum to individuals who do not request it?

Britains benefits and working rules need to brought into line with France before you contemplate a national card system which can bring no benefit to the hard working British people.

Posted by: Mike Macmillan at September 21, 2003 08:26 PM