Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Blair Announces Biometric ID Card Plans

U.K. PM Announces Plans for ID Cards
Associated Press | October 25 2004

LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair announced plans Monday to introduce
high-tech biometric identity cards, saying they could be a significant means
of fighting terrorism.
Britain has not had compulsory identity cards for ordinary citizens since
shortly after World War II. Such ID cards are mandatory in several Western
European countries, including Belgium and Germany.
Civil rights advocates say the cards infringe on personal liberty. Other
critics say the plan is expensive and question its efficacy.
But Blair said ID cards bearing biometric data like electronic fingerprints
or iris scans "have an important role to play in fighting serious crime and
terrorism and tackling illegal immigration."
"We will legislate as soon as parliamentary time is available and I believe
that security must be our legislative priority," the prime minister said at
his monthly news conference.
"I am confident we can successfully develop a secure biometric ID card for
the whole country," he added.
Earlier this year the government said it planned to introduce the cards on a
voluntary basis in 2007, with a decision on whether to make them compulsory
around five years later.