News from Feb 2005 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4252919.stm
And it seems from the NO2ID site that it's still ping-ponging about, but is potentially gathering support with the Lords with revisions on it.
If you're asking why this matters and what's so bad about them anyway, then let me tell you. I was rather indifferent on the matter about half a year ago until I went along to a day conference about it here in Norwich and actually found out what the plans were and what they would mean to me as a citizen, as well as to the nation in general.
Why are ID cards such a bad thing? They're not necessarily, they do work in other countries, but there are different types, different levels of intrusiveness. For a worldview of ID cards see this site. The concern, for me, is not with ID cards in general so much as the UK proposal.
It's badly planned, not thought out. It will cost the taxpayers, not just once but twice. You will be paying for the maintenance of the system, for those who are employed to set it up and those who continue to organise everything once it's up and running - AND you will pay for an obligatory card and any updates of it in your future. The Home Office estimates it will cost £584m a year, but won't reveal how much for the initial costs setting it up. The London School of Economics is estimating the costs could be up to 3 times what the government has projected.
Why do we need such cards? The government says it may prevent crime, they say it'll make it easier to identify illegal immigrants and terrorists, that it will make us all safer. But it won't - they have never said how the scheme will help on either count and chances are that it will only cause trouble for law abiding citizens. Most people say who support the scheme seem to be for it because it sounds reasonable to have everything is one place - or because they believe it will stop terrorism/illegal immigration, but there's no proof it will be effective on that count and given the costs of 'having everything in one place' it simply doesn't seem worth it. That you have nothing to hide, as often quoted in support of the scheme, does not mean that it's okay for the government to needlessly pry into your life - and to waste time and money doing so.
The technology they wish to use is only 75-95% accurate, not even 99%, far from a near foolproof level you'd expect. How many people could be affected every day even if the failure rate is only 1%? Quite a fair amount of people out of the population, still. It doesn't sound like many but that's when it's got nothing to do with you - when your life could be inconvenienced due to faults in the card, when it could put your life on hold because you don't have a working card and everyone MUST to operate in our society. There won't be any opting out once 80% of the population has them, which is the current threshold defined after which they will be compulsory. It's yet to revealed if it is desired they be compulsorarily carried or merely owned. Failure to register will result in a £2,500 fine and those providing inaccurate information or failing to update information will be liable for a £1,000 fine - plus up to 2 years in jail for the former offense.
The cards will store about 40 fields of information. All this data will be sitting on a supposedly secure government database (as much as any computer system can be secure). Each time your card is checked it will look up your unique identifier and double check with the database. The data won't be on your card but services will have access to it, with levels of access defined by the government. Even though companies won't have access, hopefully, they can still build their own data around your unique card number; making their own little database on you to track your purchases. If you have to prove your age for anything they can track your purchases of such materials. Tracking and data collation already exists, but this will make it that bit easier - like having a profile of everything you do based around your national security number.
It may well be easier for people to steal identities with the ID cards, despite all the security measures, and it certainly won't be any less prone to fraud, again it could well be easier to than what we currently have. There's nothing wrong with our passports as they are; passports are forgable but then so will the ID cards, eventually if not immediately - so what are we being forced to spend our money on?
The cards will infringe on our privacy, have enormous potential for abuse both commercially and by any future less than trustworthy governments, and would cost the nation millions when in fact they won't work to a good enough standard and be just as prone to the problems of the old system. Few of the many shortcomings have been addressed so far. If it was ever a good idea the scheme as it is has so many holes in it it isn't funny. At best it will be a waste of time and money, including yours and mine, and at worst it could prove a threat to your liberty.
If you agree, sign the petition today.
And check out the pledge to refuse ID cards should they be approved (closed but nice to see someone doing something)
Other links on ID cards