Blair and ID cards

Blair has made a statement in favour of ID cards, justifying them as a tool to fight identity theft. Excuse me, Mr. Blair, but for identity theft to be a justification it owuld have to cost significantly more than the £584 million annually which the cards will cost. It would have to be higher as the fraud would not be eliminated (ID fraud is estimated to be 1.2billion, i.e. the ID cards are 50% of the cost of fraud, that's a high figure to make it worthwhile on these grounds).

In addition, No2ID point out that 'Card-not-present fraud, which makes up the vast majority of fraud and theft coming under the "identity fraud" banner occurs because there is no card, card holder or identity document to check. Similarly card cloning, the most quickly rising form of fraud, would be entirely unaffected.

The BBC has a 'Have your Say' at the moment, the poll on this page shows 82% against them at this time.

I commented thusly:

ID cards are touted as helping the fight against terrorism. Given that the Madrid bombers all had perfectly valid ID, it is hard to see how this claim holds water.

I also commented:

So, ID cards are now to fight the rising cost of ID theft?

Is ID theft costing us more than £584million a year? This is true, but for it to be a justification, ID cards would have to SAVE that sum, this would mean around a 50% saving based on current figures. Another attempt at justification for a system which has no reasonable justifications, other than the nonsensical 'If you have nothing to hide...'

Other anti points:

ID cards are an excellent idea - for any totalitarian government....

Just because most of Europe has ID cards doesn't mean we should. After all, there are a good few countries who use the Euro or have a flat tax rate, or have National Service, or have trains that run on time, or have good education and health services. We're in no danger of being troubled with those more 'useful' items so why ID cards?

Absolutely against compulsory ID cards. Criminals and terrorists will simply forge them - cheaper probably than stumping up an extortionate £85 per person. It will make little if any difference to identity theft, and even if we trust the current government to treat the data with care how can we possibly know what a future government might do with it. Once they have the data they will use it.

Criminals won't be far behind the technology to forge these cards and steal identities. As for terrorists, they are largely not convicted at the time of an attack and will therefore be more than happy to travel under their own name, until they commit an attack. The governments arguments for the ID cards do not stand up to any scrutiny.

What a waste of money, what real, tangible benefits is this going to bring. It's not going to cut crime because police can already ID criminals easily. It won't stop terrorists as they'll either be non-UK citizens or won't care about being identified. There is just not one good reason to go to all this massive expense.

Some 'pro' points, starting with the usual hoary old chestnut:

The only people who can object to ID cards, like photographs on bank cards, are those who have something to hide.

I wholeheartedly support ID cards. Most European countries have a similar system. Any help to reduce crime should be welcomed. What is all the fuss about? (I'm glad that the Euro will get your vote, using the same logic. I also note that you'd be glad to see a 7pm curfew as that would help reduce crime - Murk)

They would also contribute to national security. I have lived abroad and had an identity card there and carrying it around actually made me feel safer (You think that perceived security at £548 million a year which could be spent on actual security, such as police on the beat or better customs enforcement, is a price worth paying?)

The more I see the 'pro' arguments the more I'm convinced it's a solution looking for a problem.

Granted that it would be convenient in some cases, but for those situations there are already ways to prove age. E.g. someone commented on this page about 'ending underage drinking'. So this means that people who are in their fifties will be carded if they want a pint? There are already proof of age schemes for people near the '16/18' boundaries, and these are optional.

This all completely ignores issues of feasibility, unfortunately 19 rebels doesn't look to be enough. Another 12 would be handy.