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Debate over national ID cards continues

Recent terror attacks on the United States have many countries considering the adoption of national identification cards. These countries include the Philippines, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In Britain, under plans being introduced by the Home Office, every British adult may soon be required to present mandatory identity cards to use public services such as schools and hospitals. Home Secretary, David Blunket, announced the ID card as a means of ‘entitlement rather than restriction’, and that it will reduce crime and handicap terrorism. (news.telegraph.co.uk/news, Oct. 2, 2001)

However, a report posted on news.telegraph.co.uk on Dec. 4 quotes Liberal Democratic Leader Charles Kennedy warning that, “Compulsory identity cards would have done nothing to prevent the terror attacks on New York and Washington, and could leave ethnic minorities facing revived ‘sus laws'”.

A report written by Privacy International (a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance by government and corporations) says that already, in Greece and Argentina, people caught ‘cardless’ in public could land them at the local precinct, where police would attempt to establish the identity of the person using other methods.

“I couldn’t necessarily say that that having a national ID would have stopped 9-11,” Tim Wilkins, superintendent, said. “If somebody has the will to fly an airplane into a building, they will surly find some way to forge an ID card.”

Kennedy continued to say that his party would combat any attempts to impose identity documents, adding that “If Britain or America had ID cards, it would not have done anything to stop what the head-cases did” and that “terrorists who could forge passports would have no difficulty faking ID cards.”

The NY branch of the Labor party disapproved of the effort as well, saying it would “further the terrorist agenda”.

In May of ’93, Athens, Greece, proposed that its citizens state their religion on the new European Community (EC) ID cards, despite a wave of protest. These cards would be used to travel within the EC, and would be the only required form of identification in public and private transactions.

The Washington Times has already reported that the Bush administration opposes the plans.

“Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan said President Bush is not even considering the idea though many in and out of government are, and the debate over the old issue has flared anew”. (Washington Times)

In general, reports depict public response with a desire for both identity-protection and some means to override these protections should public interest demand it. They want payment schemes to preserve anonymity, unless identification can be backed with clear, published justification in order to enable public examination.

“As a society, government seams to invade privacy in so many areas,” Wilkins added. “I’m not sure I would be a person who would support adding to that.”

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