Blunkett: UK losing faith in ID cards

A single, compulsory document combining passport and driving licence would prove more popular than the proposed ID card, according to David Blunkett

MP David Blunkett, architect of the National Identity Scheme, has said there has been a "massive drop" in public confidence in ID cards.

Five years ago, most UK residents were in favour of the proposed cards, but this popular support has waned, Blunkett told ZDNet UK at the Infosecurity 2009 conference.

"For at least three years after we announced [ID cards], 75 or 80 percent of the population were in favour," Blunkett said. "Over the last two years, we seem to have had a massive drop in confidence in the system."

The MP for Sheffield Brightside said the government had been outflanked by those putting the "worst-case scenario", and that those who were "scared" by ID cards had, in public forums, put forward a better case than that of the government.

Opposition to the scheme has been widespread. Both of the major political parties have said they would scrap ID cards, while privacy and civil liberties campaigners have been the most vocal opponents.

A single document combining a compulsory biometric passport with a driving licence would be more popular, according to Blunkett.

"We would immediately take the steam out of this, because we would demonstrate that we aren't talking about some new, frightening, untried scheme that would lead to all of our information being captured, all of our information being retained, and all of our information being shared," he said. "What we are talking about is just enough to be able to ensure that we identify ourselves correctly."

An Identity and Passport Service spokesperson said that the government still plans to introduce identity cards as planned.

"The government is committed to introducing ID cards, which will provide the public with a single, simple and secure way for individuals to prove their identity and safeguard their personal details," said the spokesperson. "The home secretary announced last year that as the National Identity Service rolls out in 2011/2012, we will be offering British citizens the choice of having an identity card, a passport, or both."

In April, the government admitted that while it has already started to issue ID cards to foreign nationals in the UK, no devices capable of reading the cards will be deployed at border entry points, job centres, or police stations until 2010.


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