Insights from the UK and beyond
The people of Manchester will soon be the first to be able to apply for an identity card, which the government says will help fight terrorism and reduce fraud. Opposition parties, however, oppose the five billion pound scheme and say it should be scrapped to save money and protect civil liberties.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the cards, which will be available in the city in the autumn ahead of a nationwide roll-out by 2012, will be voluntary. She said the move would allow Manchester citizens “the best chance to start realising the benefits of identity cards as soon as possible.
“ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists.”
The government has already started issuing ID cards to foreign nationals in the UK, but the Conservatives say they will scrap the scheme if they win the next election.
We’ve been spooked, says former spook Dame Stella Rimington. The first female head of MI5, who stood down as the director general of the security service in 1996, believes the government has used the spectre of terrorism to restrict our civil liberties.
“It would be better that the government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, precisely one of the objects of terrorism — that we live in fear and under a police state,” Rimington told Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper.