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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 13:09 GMT
Backlash against ID card scheme
Specimen ID card
The government consultation closes at the end of the month
Mounting opposition to the idea of compulsory ID cards in the UK has dealt a blow to government conviction that the public supported the idea.

A consultation into the issue, launched in July and due to conclude at the end of January, had shown that a 2-1 majority of citizens favoured the idea of compulsory ID cards.

But these government figures, drawn from the 1,500 responses it has so far received from the public, have been brought into serious question by alternative figures from campaign groups Privacy International and Stand.org.uk.

An email campaign launched last week has already had 2,500 responses, nearly all in opposition to a compulsory ID card.

Vote against government

People are learning at the eleventh hour why theis proposal is so dangerous

Simon Davies, Privacy International
Privacy International has also launched an ID card hotline, allowing members of the public to vote either in favour or against the idea by phone.

The messages will be converted to audio files and forwarded to the Home Office consultation team, which has agreed that the files will count as legitimate responses.

"This is an unequivocal vote against the government," said Privacy International's Director Simon Davies.

"People are learning at the eleventh hour why this proposal is so dangerous. Public support for the ID card is dropping by more than one percent per hour," he added.

Orwellian vision

The government could learn valuable lessons about how to have a meaningful consultation

Simon Davies, Privacy International
A public debate into the pros and cons of ID cards held in December drew a raft of criticism from a diverse selection of groups and individuals, including ex-Conservative ministers, civil liberties groups and the editor of the Daily Telegraph.

The government was accused of using Orwellian language to convince the public that ID cards were a good idea while others questioned the cost and uses of the 1.5bn database of biometric information necessary to support the scheme.

"The government has failed to establish a convincing case for the card. The consultation has been a sham from the word go," said Mr Davies.

Valuable lessons

Specimen ID card
The scheme will require a billion pound database
Mr Davies has also questioned how well the government uses technology to engage in debate with citizens.

"Our system had as many responses in 24 hours as the government has achieved in six months," he said.

"The government could learn valuable lessons about how to have a meaningful consultation and really reach out to the people," he added.

The Home Office is happy that its consultation was thorough and said that it had drawn more responses than many recent exercises.

"We have had media briefings, liased with education groups and businesses and tried to engage local communities in the consultation," said a Home Office spokesperson.

"We welcome all responses to this consultation, included those from Privacy International," she added.

Anyone wishing to comment on the idea of ID cards can e-mail the government at entitlementcardsunit@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or via the stand.org.uk website. Alternatively they can phone their responses - in favour 0845 330 7245 and against 0845 330 7246

See also:

08 Jan 03 | Politics
18 Dec 02 | Technology
08 Dec 02 | Technology
03 Dec 02 | Politics
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