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Friday, 12 October, 2001, 10:16 GMT 11:16 UK
How far should the government go to stop terrorism?
The UK government is considering a series of new measures in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the US.

Although the government has ruled out the introduction of compulsory ID cards, other proposals include new regulations concerning extradition, internet surveillance, asylum and money laundering.

New laws could also make it an offence to discriminate against religious groups or to incite hatred against them, in a similar way to the race relation laws.

The Conservatives have indicated that they support such moves but the Liberal Democrats and many Labour backbenchers are concerned that the proposals could be rushed through without any proper debate.

Are such measures a price worth paying if they help to ensure the security of the UK? Or are they an overreaction that would endanger our civil liberties?

Click here to read your previous comments on terrorist funding

This Talking Point is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.



We are capitalistic monsters who will go to any extreme to ensure profit and global power

Shane Owen, UK
In the light of recent events it is time that we the West look not just at terrorism but the reasons for it. We are capitalistic monsters who will go to any extreme to ensure not the safety of our people and world peace but profit and global power. If we could look from outside and forget the propaganda we are fed surly we would call ourselves evil. The government will always feed us the propaganda they need to achieve this by mass media. Do not believe everything you see on the news. Open your eyes and take in some socialist views.
SHANE OWEN, UK

Fighting terrorism effectively means that one should concentrate on the justifications for these acts. If one focuses only on the physical elimination of terrorists I'm afraid that there is simply no end to it. Every additional martyr engenders a multitude of new desperados now and in future.
Martin Debouck, Belgium

At a time when young British people are going to be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice so that the people of the UK can live in peace and safety, I feel the least Muslims living in Britain can do to repay our hospitality and show they appreciate the freedom and right to free speech we enjoy, is to support the nation and respect the feelings of the mothers and fathers of our service men and women and the British people at this time.
David Tellier, Canada

Why doesn't the world use the money frozen in the terrorists' accounts to feed the poor people in the country it is found in, also to the people that have been devastated by terror? Sure it will make the terrorists mad, but that would just be too bad, wouldn't it. Prime Minister Tony Blair has been remarkable. I thoroughly enjoy every one of his speeches. God Bless us all.
Robin, USA


I think we should go as far as is humanly possible to combat terrorism

Joy Winter, Scotland
I think we should go as far as is humanly possible to combat terrorism. We have all lived too long under this constant threat. It has never, nor will ever, make my family or myself change our way of life but these people cannot be allowed to continue to disrupt the way of life in the free world. The inconveniences involved in curtailing terrorism are absolutely necessary. They are really only minor if they can stop or at least vastly reduce this problem.
Joy Winter, Scotland

Enough security measures must be taken. However, there must be long-term solutions too. The increasing popularity of anti-American sentiments among Muslim youth is Osama's strength. Preventing this attitude will make a difference in the long run and the Muslim community will also appreciate it. Otherwise, growing anti-American sentiments will be costly for future generations and terrorism will prevail forever.
Bishnu Bhattarai, Nepal


Freedom and democracy do not come cheaply

Bill Kempton, England
By nature I am not a violent person, I abhor the use of unnecessary force. However, we are at a crossroads in our life. Do we allow our values and traditions to be usurped by a small minority or do we stand up and fight? Quite simply, freedom and democracy do not come cheaply and if these principals are worth keeping they are worth fighting for. I only hope that all options are explored first.
Bill Kempton, England

With regard to new laws banning 'incitement to religious hatred' proposed in the UK. I hope that if these are introduced they will be used against the numerous 'Islamic jihad' groups based in Britain who preach intolerance, hatred and violence against 'infidels' and Western society in general.
Laurence Hughes, UK

It's all about respect. As long as humanity doesn't learn how to respect each other's beliefs, religion or opinion, there will be conflicts. Conflicts that can grow as big as they are right now.
Luz Araiza, México


Stop backing oppressive regimes and you'll reduce terrorism

Frank, UK
In case nobody's noticed, terrorists don't operate within the law. New laws will have almost no effect. If you can co-ordinate the simultaneous hijacking of four planes and fly them into high profile targets at will, I don't think that faking a few ID cards or passports will present a huge difficulty. Stop backing oppressive regimes and you'll reduce terrorism.
Frank, UK

At this time, when there is a possibility of terrorist attacks in our country, I think that it might be sensible to bring into use a 'non-emergency' national police phone number, such as 888. It could even be partly financed by seized assets from terrorist zealots. At the same time, I would also like to suggest a low-key information campaign to encourage the public to report any suspicious activities near reservoirs, bridges or other sensitive facilities.
J. Briggs, UK

How about starting to review foreign policy towards the rest of the world? The people of poorer countries are actual human beings with red blood. We don't want to see any lives lost anywhere in the world.
Reza, UAE


Terrorists cannot be contained by short-term preventative measures

David Jackson, UK
Terrorists cannot be contained by short-term preventative measures such as ID cards, confiscating funds and immigration checks. All these measures miss the true threats of terrorism: opportunism, time and hateful determination fuelled by ideological righteousness whatever the creed. There will always be needless killing. So let us not pretend this is only an issue of safety but admit it is an issue of public assurance and economic stability.
David Jackson, UK

Technology alone cannot defeat terrorism. The best idea is to increase rights such as privacy. The idea is that ordinary people will be drawn into supporting lawful authority. To restrict traditional freedoms such as the right to assembly and free speech simply plays into the hands of the terrorists themselves.
Brian, UK


These are the new laws we need to have: education, respect and feed the hungry

Phil, USA
These are the new laws we need to have: education, respect and feed the hungry. My family and I have been refugees from Cyprus since 1974. Yet I don't have any hatred for Turks, my children are not allowed to use the word "hate" and I teach them to judge people as individuals not groups and that religion does not judge a person. I also believe that food and shelter can and should be provided to every citizen of the world. Sounds like a huge step, but considering what countries and other groups spend on weapons it would save billions.
Phil, USA

At the moment the Government should try anything to stop the terrorists. The UK and the world have put up with enough. Why should we let others tell us how to live our lives?
Beth Swan, UK

If the government issues me with some form of secure, copy-proofed, hologram carrying, smart chip enabled, high-tech ID card, the first thing I will do with it is mail it to Osama bin Laden. It will be accompanied by a short note saying, "Look! You are winning. You crafty sod, you knew they were too dim NOT to take the bait". What an absolute waste of time and money it would be. Why not spend the cash on aid for the Afghan men, women and children who are going to be the real losers in this fiasco of western hypocrisy, chest beating and self-delusion?
Mark Studden, UK


The events of recent months have highlighted a flaw in our own democracy

Ross Campbell, United Kingdom
The events of recent months have highlighted a flaw in our own democracy which has been overlooked: the decision to take military action was made without the consent of Parliament and thus without the legitimacy of the British people. This raises fundamental questions about who gets to decide when and if Parliament is recalled. Surely this should be placed in the hands of a non-partisan authority, perhaps the speaker of the House?

The present arrangements allow the British government to act without the scrutiny of our democratic processes. Effective questioners such as Tam Dalziel, George Galloway, Alex Salmond and Charles Kennedy should surely be afforded a forum in which to explore the thinking and future strategy of the British government.
Ross Campbell, United Kingdom

Scrolling down the comments on this page had me realising that the terrorists (whoever they actually are) have already won this thing hands down. They have induced absolute paranoia and 'terror' of the unknown into popular belief and governments alike. We are all doomed to a world of government surveillance on our very existence - lovely.
Joe Lowe (British ex-pat in Belgium), UK


Prepare for a worldwide fascism

Aris, Greece
Now our governments have an excuse to make it worse: prepare for a worldwide fascism and watch fascists all around the world celebrate. I feel sorry about the people who died, but mostly I feel sorry for the future of my life.
Aris, Greece

Permit me to mention a concept which is practiced in the state of Colorado: any new law - be it anti-terrorist or not - expires in five years. At that time it must be passed again, or it fades into oblivion. This means that after living with it for a while, we get to vote on it again.
Nick Geer, USA

Successive governments over the last 30 years have wanted to introduce compulsory ID cards, but have been afraid that the backlash against their introduction would make any government that imposed them unelectable. Now this government - one of the most reactionary and control-obsessed that we have ever had - has a perfect opportunity. They will use as their excuse that this is a necessary measure in the fight against terrorism; but in reality the compulsory introduction of ID cards is yet another act of political control - like the removal of a suspect's right to silence and the abolition of the "double jeopardy" law.
Paul Spicer, England


The most effective single action the West can take against terrorism is to repeal the drugs laws

Malcolm McMahon, York, UK
The most effective single action the West can take against terrorism is to repeal the drugs laws. This would, in a stroke, cut off a very substantial fraction of their funding. It would also free up a great many resources of our own well adapted to the fight against terrorism.
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

Civil liberty is not something you can give away one minute and take back the next. There is an understandable inertia in government towards control. For example, after WW2 it was years before ID cards, introduced as an emergency measure during the war, were withdrawn in the UK. Before surrendering such freedoms, therefore, every citizen has a duty to future generations to ask, "is this necessary, will it work?" Governments sometimes get it wrong and we, the people, have to tell them when they do. This can be done through elections, the Web, newspapers - any one of a hundred mechanisms that enable us to be free. Fortunately, our governments are behaving remarkably sensibly at the moment!
Andrew, UK

As a Police Officer I never found that the lack of an ID card in the UK prevented me from fully identifying any person whom I needed to positively ID. As a private person I am against the issue of any ID card that I am required to carry. It is one more unnecessary restriction on my liberties. It seems that all politicians can think of in any crisis is to pass yet more Laws. Every thing done by most terrorist groups is already unlawful, why do we need more legislation? The actions in New York were different only in scale, and target, from what the world has had to endure for years, what has changed so much that personal liberties must be overturned?
Barry P, England

I don't think many new laws are needed at all. All we need is the fortitude to enforce existing laws properly. Unless existing laws are enforced there is no point producing new ones.
Ken, UK

I have to agree with Ken. We do not need any more laws, there are plenty in existence already. What is required is for existing Law to be applied in full as an instrument to catch and punish terrorists and criminals. Put more resources at the disposal of the appropriate authorities, and demand results.
Peter Goff, UK


What is the point spending money on public services if we leave ourselves at the mercy of the terrorists?

Mark Avey, England
I've heard suggestions that we should use the money we're prepared to spend on a war on the health service and education. These are of course extremely important, but what is the point spending the money on those services if we leave ourselves at the mercy of the terrorists? We'll be well educated and cared for with a gun at our heads. If we do nothing, we may as well hand over the keys and resign ourselves to a future of terror.
Mark Avey, England

The recent attacks on peaceful Muslims have shown the degree to which we have become indoctrinated with simplistic views of religion. We must be careful not to support the criminalisation of certain beliefs we don't understand, or are afraid of. Restricting freedom of belief (fundamental or not) and bringing in 'Big Brother' totalitarian controls would be irreversible. How many governments give-up power rather than gain it? If such powers are assumed by our governments, who will defend us if these powers are abused?
Steve C,


Effective legislation to combat terrorism will be blocked by the liberal elite

Ralph, England
I am extremely skeptical that anything will be done to combat terrorism in this country because of the introduction of EU Human Rights legislation into UK law. The Government has in a stroke handed over the control of this county to the Judiciary who makes a mockery of common sense and decency. There will be no effective legislation to combat terrorism because it will be blocked by the liberal elite and this country will continue to harbour those that have committed or plan terrorist acts.
Ralph, England

We should go after all who fund terrorism with all we have at our disposal, and declare war on them all. Perhaps we should start in Boston or New York where collection cans rattle regularly for "the Cause" of the IRA.
Steve Bradley, Scotland

We have had terrorism in this country for over 30 years. Why do we have to reform laws now? Are the Government saying that our laws for the past 30 years were useless? Or are they trying to use the attacks on America as an excuse to implement new laws to interfere with civil liberties? ID cards should be introduced, but as the Europeans have, and not for infringing liberties.
Mark Hobbs, UK

Why is it so easy to declare war but so difficult to introduce ID cards, especially since the majority of people are in favour of them? We continually pander to minority views and are told we live in a democracy. Do what is necessary to protect people's security and stop being weak.
Malc, UK

Malc, you're confusing democracy with a tyranny of the majority. It is the mark of a civilised society that it respects the views and the rights of minorities. If we are to go to 'war' in defence of the 'civilised' world, please let's try to remember what both terms mean.
Duncan, UK


A good war lasting a long time will help to clean things up

Keith Knight, Switzerland
Let's go all the way whatever it takes. The world is in a complete mess generally with everyone trying to pursue their own beliefs whatever the cost to other people's lives. A good war lasting a long time will help to clean things up and we'll have a chance to start over again with new policies and ideas that might succeed next time around. In other words it has to get worse before it will get better.
Keith Knight, Switzerland

Good to see Keith Knight advocating a good long war from his ivory tower in neutral Switzerland
Gerry, Scotland

As a foreigner living in Japan I have to carry an alien registration card. This kind of system has arguments in its favour but ultimately does nothing to stop people desperate enough to break laws or cause harm. I don't wish to hide but the threat of being held at a police station for not having my papers on my person is simply imprisonment for standing out from the crowd. Terrorists survive through evasion. ID cards won't stop this. How can such measures be impartial to current and future prejudice? People have talked about responsibilities to protect freedom. What of the responsibility not to provide a new tool to perpetuate intolerance? Spend taxpayers' money on encouraging respect for others not on encouraging suspicion. Surely it is this kind of lack of respect which has allowed things to get this far.
Simon, Japan

If it is true that the plan for ID cards is to be scrapped I think we are totally mad. Providing national security for the likes of benefit claims is far more important than human rights. No one is suggesting that ID cards were a panacea but it would be infinitely better than the system we have at the moment. No wonder the rest of the world thinks we are a soft touch. I have spent most of my working life in the air force and I found possession of an ID card a definite asset on more than one occasion.
Jet, Switzerland

Infringement of civil liberties is a concern and it is important to be aware of this. However one has to be alive to enjoy these liberties. It is a sad fact of life in the 21st century that we are not as free as we would like to think we are. In all wars civil liberties are sacrificed for the greater good of achieving freedom and we are at war with terrorism, are we not?
Joe O'Neill-Byrne, UK


Civil liberties must be sacrificed to ensure safety

SG, Canada
I believe that civil liberties must be sacrificed to ensure safety. It is time to get rid of all terrorism, be it on a national scale or the bad guy living around the corner. They are all tarred with the same brush and decent citizens will not tolerate the small terrorists, such as the drug pushers, nor the big terrorists any longer. I trust the days of all evildoers are over. Decent people have had enough. Politicians must ensure, at all costs, that simple by-laws and major security measures are enforced. Let us decent citizens ensure that the small terrorist does not become a plague on our society.
SG, Canada

Who are the terrorists? I believe the answer to this question is subjective. Some people who have been labelled terrorists have ended up being world leaders. The ANC was once referred to as a terrorist group by the British government. We are living in a world where the democratic majority has the ultimate say. But this often leaves the minority in any region in the world voiceless and they often resort to terrorism in order to express their grievances. Surprisingly all these powerful countries have in the past participated in sponsoring terrorism around the world with their personal interest guiding them. I am seeing all these events from an outsider's point of view. I wish we all could stop being hypocrites before we start tackling the issue of peace around the world.
Dar Mubataripi, USA

I believe when you live under a constant fear of terrorist attack from your neighbours, you don't even mind giving two or three years of your life to the army. Requiring an ID is not even an issue and never has been for me. So I envy all those people in the world that consider having an ID an act against personal freedom. Unfortunately I cannot relate to that.
Kety Twig, Israel

If this were a question of altruism at the cost of my own personal freedom, I would refuse, but in this case, it isn't. Now my life is at stake as all of our lives are. The question of added security is one of trading some personal freedom for my life. This is a barter I will gladly accept, if not only for the real risk of dying, but for ease of mind. I hold no reproach for those people in this world who hate western culture. In fact, I'd rather not have to think of them at all.
Josh Henderson, US

Once again the US and the UK are engaged in an operation against forces they have equipped and trained. Might I suggest the most effective measure against terrorism would be to stop selling arms and backing one side against another in the pursuit of US interests abroad.
Alice, UK


It has become all too easy for the terrorists

Ketthy, Australia
I believe the fight against terrorism should have started a long time ago. This way we could have avoided the killing of more than 6,000 innocent Americans. The leaders of the countries that try to fight it now are not going to stop the terror by simply getting Bin Laden, but by acting against all terrorists around the world. It has become all too easy for the terrorists. They understand that basically if they hurt enough people they get what they want and they are using our democratic ways and human values in order to achieve their destructive goals.
Ketthy, Australia

We should never stop at fighting terrorism. There will always be some fanatical regime out there somewhere. The United States government let Bin Laden get too far in recruiting lonely disillusioned Middle Easterners to die for his cause. Most of them have a low level of education and are easily led. David Koresh and Jim Jones did the same with the people in their cults. There will always be some form of terrorist group out there and we should never let our guard down again.
D Huron, USA

On the one hand, Blair is professing his commitment to eradicating terrorism worldwide. On the other, he allows terrorism to base itself in UK. From the LTTE to the Middle Eastern groups, everybody feels at home in London. In Lancashire, funds are openly collected in the name of a holy war. I don't know which is more laughable, that or Pakistan leading the fight against terrorism.
Uday Hiremath, USA

What terrorists are being referred to when a crackdown is mentioned? Is it those who detonated several large bombs in the city of London in the early 90's? We heard no global calls for a crackdown then. But hopefully now, the full might of the USA and UN will be applied to finding and bringing to justice the perpetrators of these crimes. The UK will surely be insisting that these terrorists will finally be brought to justice just as soon as the instigators of the more recent attacks.
Dave Wright, Australia


In our rush to stamp out terrorism, let's not compromise our freedoms

Cindy Lu Webber, USA
Any country or organisation that wants to connect all the dots from our DNA to our credit to our travel agendas will have way too much knowledge of and power over us. All this will do is give government the ultimate control over people - it won't control terrorists. In our rush to stamp out terrorism, let's not compromise our freedoms. The last thing I would want is for anyone to have access to my private details. Just because I have nothing to hide does not mean I want some government bureaucrat looking at my mail, my DNA, my spending practices, my travel plans and so forth. We should all be very afraid.
Cindy Lu Webber, USA

If the UK or the USA takes away our democratic freedoms then the terrorists have won. I advocate introducing stringent security at airports and possible targets like nuclear power plants but I think the proper thing to do is go on the offensive. We need to go after the terrorists soon. Anyone who targets innocent people is a terrorist and a coward, not a freedom fighter, and doesn't deserve the support of anyone.
Steve H, USA

ID cards would only give more control to the government. As it is the government has too much power over us.
Sarah Morse, USA


If this is what the next generation has to aspire to, then there really is no hope for peace

Ray, N Ireland
I am extremely disillusioned with the suggested action against the world threat of terrorism. On the one hand the government is keen to ally itself with America, whose loss I very much empathise with. Yet, on the other it continues to appease terrorism within Northern Ireland. Why is the full weight of the law not being used to root out the groups that control most racketeering, drugs, fencing and any number of illegal activities within Ireland as a whole. No longer is the conflict here anything to do with religion, except for the misguided few that are purely ignorant of the situation. Terrorist activity is flourishing in Northern Ireland. Criminal organisations on both sides control huge areas and territories, all of which seems to go unnoticed or unpunished for fear of upsetting a farce of a peace process.

The amount of times the ceasefires have been breached by all organisations, the continued beatings, punishment shootings and murders seem to be a stark reminder to those within the affected areas that no matter what process you voted for, you will never escape their control. The government must not only seek to destroy Bin Laden and his associates, but also destroy the element that laughs behind its back from its own backyard. Freeze the assets of those who perpetrate crime in Northern Ireland, cut off the sources of income that help them in destroying the fragile fabric of our society and show zero tolerance to those who riot for entertainment on our streets night after night. Enough is enough. It applies to the Middle East as much as it does here. If this is what the next generation has to aspire to, then there really is no hope for peace.
Ray, N Ireland


The greatest threat to democracy isn't democracy itself

Tez, UK
The greatest threat to democracy isn't democracy itself. It is giving the executive more power than it needs or deserves. We have a finely balanced set of institutions designed to give no one institution too much power to abuse. I feel that the Labour Government's assertion that judges should not interpret human rights legislation against the wishes of the elected executive to be highly sinister because of the controversial measures being talked about. It is time we signed up to a charter of fundamental rights which are inalienable. The Americans have such a thing and Bush himself has admitted he will have to work within them.
Tez, UK

I think the Government should not only freeze the assets and funds of terrorists and Heads of State, but also use that money to pay for the UN aid and IMF money that is supplied to these countries.
John Moyo, USA

Any society which is not prepared to defend itself will not and does not deserve to survive. Already you have the 'pacifists' and assorted 'anti groups airing their views which is what the terrorists want so they can exploit your weaknesses. Read up on what 'fundamentalism' means then come back and tell us we should turn the other cheek.
John, France

I used to live in Russia during the Afghan war. It was a bloody and brutal conflict yet there were no terrorist acts on Russian soil. I attribute it to the fact that society was not open and it was difficult for terrorists to "slip through the cracks". It is obvious that the attackers in the US exploited the freedoms of an open society to pull off an attack of such magnitude on September 11.
Igor G, USA

What is needed is a worldwide database of criminals that could be linked into intelligent CCTV systems. Sightings of criminals could then be reported back by the database to police and CCTV owners.
John Ley, London, England


ID cards aren't going to solve anything

J Hibbon, UK
ID cards aren't going to solve anything. I'm a little tired of hearing the vacuous "If one life is saved..." argument. If one life could be saved by the compulsory fitting of 20-foot inflatable cushions to all car bumpers, would it be worth it? Terrorism is an emotive subject but we should think calmly and rationally before flushing our small freedoms away.
J Hibbon, UK

The government will sneak in as many controversial laws as possible now. The fact is that in Northern Ireland, terrorist clamp-downs have been in operation since the 70s - that didn't stop the Omagh bomb did it? Terrorists are determined - they'll simply move underground. Anyway, arresting people for not having ID is a waste of money and time - would you go clubbing with your mates and carry your only ID card that is probably going to be 20 pounds to replace? What if you loose it then get stopped by the police? Jail?
Mike Todd, UK

Who are the terrorists? Russia calls the Chechen rebels terrorists, but the UK media calls them freedom fighters. Margaret Thatcher called the ANC terrorists, now they Rule south Africa. Most of the leaders of Israel were at some point on Britain's "most wanted" list.

Who funds terrorism? Indonesia would argue that the Governments of the UK and USA funded the "terrorists" who sought independence for East Timor. The Governments of Cuba and Russia have in the past funded countless Guerrilla gangs in South America - Western Governments are no better - remember the "Contra's"? Who funded the Mujahadeen?

Until we can answer these difficult questions, it's a bit premature to think about changes to legislation. After all, it wouldn't do to make our own government into criminals, would it?
John, UK


Is one life saved from a terrorist worth five lives lost due to reduced medical funding?

Andy, Europe/UK
How much will the cost of extra security add up to in terms of funding lost for education and operations in hospitals? Is one life saved from a terrorist worth five lives lost due to reduced medical funding? There is only so much budget to spread around, how do we spend it to save the most lives?

It is a relatively trivial task to write a virtually unbreakable non-commercial encryption program. Illegal organisations can do this, any government snooping will not monitor cleverly organised crime, just the general public.
Andy, Europe/UK

Although I agree that the struggle against terrorism should not be an excuse for infringing basic individual freedoms, I cannot see why ID cards cause such a stir. Here in Belgium people accept ID cards as a way of life, and there are many benefits. Ask yourself why so many refugees would rather go to England? Because once in, they can 'disappear'. ID cards are a small price to pay for a safe and manageable society.
Nigel Williams, Belgium

A country that does not have ID cards will always be a soft touch for terrorism and other criminal activities. Britain will pay a high price for pandering to its vocal minorities.
T Kohlman, Germany

Terrorism is a cancer and must be extracted. As long as we have idiots and religious fanatics in our own country and all over the world, we cannot afford to let our guard down again. No one is safe and one needs to ask the question, would any peace loving individual want to live under the rule of the Taleban? Put bluntly, we should take some unpopular measures. If that means me having to give up some of my so-called civil rights, then so be it, if it will help save lives. Wake up society, make some sacrifices! We don't need the "bleeding hearts" at this stage of the game.
Jim Gillard, USA

One government or one nation cannot fight an international terrorist regime, which spreads over 60 countries. Any amount of home policing will have no effect. All governments should abandon harbouring criminals and terrorists of other countries. Why do all the international terrorist organisations have or have had headquarters in UK? The governments of UK and other western countries have a lot to answering and explaining to do, both to their citizens and citizens of world.
TJ, USA


ID cards are useless against terrorists

Tom, UK
Surely David Blunkett can understand that ID cards are useless against terrorists. They will be an extremely effective tool, however, for those racists looking to restrict immigration. If ID cards are introduced, the Government will find that its rapidly declining circle of friends no longer includes those concerned with civil liberties. It is becoming increasingly clear that New Labour has all the patronising arrogance of Old Labour and none of the social concern and competence that made it palatable.
Tom, UK

Here in Northern Ireland we already have ID cards of a sort - driving licences with photograph and address details, as well as details of motoring offences. This has not stopped terrorism, drug use is on the increase, and we have typically 200 - 300 deaths on the road every year (four to six times the average number of people killed in the "troubles"). I would not have a problem suffering some inconvenience if it stopped crime, but it doesn't and it won't.
M Bell, N. Ireland

How would ID cards help? We already have an ID system that is designed to stop certain people from travelling abroad in order to commit crimes. Its called a passport. This doesn't seem to have worked, so how will ID cards solve all our problems?
Colin Mackay, Uk


I'll take liberty over safety any day!

Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK
To quote Benjamin Franklin: 'Those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.' Personally I'll take liberty over safety any day!
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

I have nothing to hide. I simply don't want a card. If I was convinced that the information would be 100% accurate in all cases; that cards would deter rather than encourage fraud; that they would actually work against the expat 'sleeper' terrorist; that the consequent mandatory supply of DNA, credit, travel and other information was not an abuse of the basic right to privacy; if they worked against terrorism elsewhere in the world e.g. France, the US; if this didn't look just like the old pattern of discredited knee-jerk legislation; if finally this didn't look like a smokescreen for the accumulation of power through information which will inevitably be employed commercially and politically - I still wouldn't want one. I'd lose it in five minutes.
Dan Winter, UK

These blanket measures will affect everybody. However, the proposed targets will easily bypass them. So who exactly are these measures supposed to protect us from - ourselves? I don't like the fact that the intelligence services are seeking to deflect the blame for their recent blunders and are cynically driving us further down the dead end path of mass surveillance.
Chuma, UK

I would give up my civil liberties for the sake of defeating terrorism only temporarily. That is to say, from the time "war" is declared until the conflict is officially concluded. This is great for the traditional "hot" war, but what about a cold war, or a "shadow war" that we seem to be currently facing? This calls for proper debate prior to military action commencing, including a clearly delineated set of requirements to be met determining an actual conclusion to the hostilities. A pretty tall order, to say the least.
Matt, USA


Any freedoms you give up now will not be easy to get back

Joel Noonan, USA
I realise this is an unpopular sentiment at the moment, but when you say "if you're innocent, you've nothing to hide" you understand what you're saying, don't you? That can be used to justify any violation of your privacy that you can think of. If you are arrested there's no need for a lawyer. After all, if you're innocent, you don't have anything to fear. We'll read all your mail and monitor all your travel. Don't worry, if you're innocent, there's nothing to fear. We'll install cameras in your home to make sure you're not a terrorist, but don't worry. Just remember, any freedoms you give up now, will not be easy to get back. So be careful what you wish for.
Joel Noonan, USA

Around 10 percent of drivers do so without a driving licence. The police are unwilling or unable to force everyone to carry one. The terrorists arrived in the US carrying passports. Whether these were real or fake, an ID card would not have prevented this from happening. So what is the aim of these cards? As an alternative to a passport it would presumably make EU travel easier. However as a stop and search tactic it wouldn't stop anything.
Gareth, England

This idea that ID cards will somehow solve all of the problems in Britain is simply foolish. I obviously feel great sympathy to those affected by the WTC attacks but these far reaching actions are too much, too fast. This isn't going to change anything. Will an ID card prevent someone willing to die flying a plane into a building? Will it prevent the rising surge of illegal immigrants? The reality is that the only people who will respect and use this system will be those who have nothing to fear.
James Holden, England

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. If you could guarantee that the powers put into people's hands with this new legislation would never be misused then the argument for it might have a place. Sadly this is not and can never be the case. I have also yet to hear a convincing argument that these new surveillance powers would actually provide the information necessary or that ID cards would somehow prevent terrorism. After all, didn't the hijackers have valid passports? I find it interesting to ask people who approve of these measures if they have ever read 1984. As yet no one I know who has read it has said yes.
Kirsty, UK

Kirsty, I have read 1984 and yet I am most definitely in favour of greater security measures. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" - whoever said that? It is truer today than ever. Terrorists of all persuasions represent a discernable fifth column in our society and an absolute threat to the security of Britain and our allies.
Pete, London, UK


If one life is saved by the introduction of new measures then that's good enough

JP, UK
The most important issue is protecting the lives of innocent people. If one life is saved by the introduction of new measures then that's good enough. Also, all attempts should be made to keep further terrorists out of the UK. Let us all remember that there are a number of terrorists, Islamic and otherwise, already in the UK who are inciting violence. They must be expelled now. It's time to get the upper hand against the terrorists or call an end to western freedom. The choice is clear.
JP, UK

I'm concerned that the government will end up trampling over the freedoms of its people in a rush to defend them, and take advantage of public feeling to introduce measures that will eventually be met with hostility. These initiatives have more to do with appearing to address public fears with attention grabbing headlines than effective action.
Richard Gregory, UK

The proposed new measures are needed, since current legislation appears to be designed to assist those who cause terror, commit crime and disrupt the lives of law-abiding people.
Paul, England


ID cards are a must

Martin Clarke, UK

ID cards are a must. Why we have waited this long is beyond my comprehension. The benefits would be seen in reducing serious crime like fraud and would save our society millions of pounds. The only people who don't want these cards are those who have something to hide or are taking others for a ride. Let's put this in place soon.
Martin Clarke, UK

I object broadly to a lot of the proposed measures. While there is a lot that can be done to counteract terrorism, I don't think things like ID cards and mass snooping are worth the price. Such measures would probably be hugely expensive and no doubt pretty trivial for well-resourced terrorists and criminals to bypass.
Jim Newall, England

We in the UK have been the target of terrorist actions since the 1970s. We already have strong security guidelines in place. What happened in the USA should not be used by the UK government to sweep away our civil rights.
Gerry, Scotland

It is pretty clear that laws in Europe need to be tightened. Terrorists should not be able to nest among us freely and without fear. Furthermore people that call for the destruction of democracy and praise people like Bin Laden should be arrested and deported. You tell me why such individuals would want to live in the west if they are so committed to fundamentalism? There are plenty of countries where they can practise what they preach. The greatest threat to democracy is democracy itself - protect the values but reign in on the abuse. ID cards are not going to hurt anybody.
Caroline, Austria/UK

The UK can start by getting rid of extremist groups operating within its own country that provide support to militant outfits around the world.
Balaji, USA/India

I'm sure the real reason the government wants to introduce ID cards is so it can create yet another civil service department with all its associated committees and working groups.
Martin, England


Freedom comes at a price - responsibility for our actions

Rae, USA
Holding membership of or actively supporting known terrorist groups should be made illegal everywhere. Activities such as fundraising for the IRA, for example, should be punishable by imprisonment. Freedom comes at a price - responsibility for our actions. Too much talk is given to freedom and rights, but I have rarely heard anyone talking about responsibility. We have a responsibility to help maintain our freedom as a society, rather than as individuals. During two world wars, millions of people gave up their individual freedom to defend our freedom as a society. I would be willing to live with some personal inconveniences to ensure that my society as a whole was safer. After all, it is not the innocent who need to fear measures such as surveillance, but the guilty.
Rae, USA

As with most sensitive issues, the trick here is finding the right balance. I do feel that if it is necessary to move the line somewhat to ensure our safety from terrorists, then we should do this. I'd rather be safe, and know that someone in the government somewhere was able to read my encrypted emails, than preserve my privacy at the expense of my safety. I do wonder when people go on about the right to privacy, what it is that they are trying to hide.
Cameron Spence, England

Freedom and justice must prevail for each and every citizen, irrespective of his or her class, creed, colour, race or religion. Human rights should be protected at any cost and the world must be shown that freedom is eternally supreme compared to religious fanaticism. However, fundamentalism should never be allowed to become a passport to any amount of aggression and terrorism.
Mahesh Chandra Somani, Oulu, Finland

The siren song of every dictator is: "Give me some of your freedom and I will protect you." The terrorists have quite simply won if we change our way of life because of their actions.
Angus, UK


The most important thing is not to rush through laws as a knee jerk reaction

K Sadler, UK
The most important thing is not to rush through laws as a knee jerk reaction. In the past this approach has resulted in badly structured laws that are difficult to police and often do not achieve their aims, ending up doing more harm than good.
K Sadler, UK

Having worked in the smart card industry, I can categorically state that any smart card based ID system will be subject to fraud. This will significantly decrease the value of such a system and the benefits will not therefore outweigh the loss of freedom that would accompany the ID cards.
Peter Dawson, Scotland

I'm broadly in favour of the proposed steps the government would like to take to tighten up security, including the new regulations and the introduction of ID cards. However, I believe that in a democracy it is important for MPs to debate these issues to ensure that all views are heard. It is also important that these weighty decisions are not made quickly. Therefore I think parliament should be recalled indefinitely and a proper debate carried out on these issues.
Peter Lumley, England


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