Jun 30th 2005
From The Economist print edition
TO BOOSTERS, they promise to ease everything from race relations to
opening a bank account. To critics, they are a costly affront to
free-born Englishmen, a looming technological disaster and a political
millstone=97plastic equivalents of the poll tax, which tipped Margaret
Thatcher out of power 15 years ago. This week's preliminary vote in the
House of Commons on a bill to establish a national identity card means
it is only a matter of time before Britons find out who is right.
If the government's plans stay on track, Britons will, within three
years, begin to receive cards containing personal details, together with
a digital photograph, fingerprints and an iris scan. A nation that has
not possessed identity cards since 1952 will, in a step, acquire the
world's most complex system.
At the heart of the scheme is a national identity register, which will
record basic personal details: name, sex, date and place of birth,
address, nationality, immigration status and the numbers of documents
such as driver's licences and passports.
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