Jun 25 2008

UK Government Committee Warns National ID System Could Be Used for Routine Monitoring of Individuals

The UK House of Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee is warning the British government that its massive national identity card scheme could threaten privacy. In a report (pdf), the Committee said it was especially concerned “about the potential for ‘function creep’ in terms of the surveillance potential of the National Identity Scheme.” The Committee urged the government to make “an explicit statement that the administrative information collected and stored in connection with the national identity register will not be used as a matter of routine to monitor the activities of individuals.”

Unfortunately, the Committee’s fears are all too real. The UK national id card scheme creates the same kind of total surveillance society that the US government hopes to create under the REAL ID scheme. For example, when the UK government described the national identification system in a press release earlier this year, it said:

The Government’s National Identity Scheme means that for the first time UK residents will have a single way to secure and verify their identity. We will be able to better protect ourselves and our families against identity fraud, as well as protecting our communities against crime, illegal immigration and terrorism. And it will help is to prove our identity in the course of our daily lives—when travelling, for example, or opening a bank account, applying for a new job, or accessing government services.

Sound familiar? It’s REAL ID all over again. More coverage at BBC News and Guardian UK. You can also learn about how to fight this massive surveillance system at No2ID.