Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, today announced that ID would no longer be compulsary and will now only be issued on a voluntary basis but the question has to be asked why they?re even bothering at all and not just scrapping it?
If you want to find out about what ID cards were all about then see this Q&A,but the gist of it was that everyone over the age of 16 in the UK would have their biometric data, finger prints and face scans added to a national register which would allow them to keep tabs on everyone. This brought up a great furore not only because of the infringements on civil liberties (see No2ID) but also because of the governments projected cost of £5bn to which London School of Economics says the true cost will be between £10bn and £20bn, with over £250,000,000 already spent on the scheme.
All in all it sounded like a bad idea right from the start but the Labout government wanted to force it though even though there was oppostion from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats who both said they would scrap the scheme if they came to power. Most other political parties in the UK, including the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and UKIP, are also against ID cards.
So I am happy that we will not have to have ID cards although this is probably not because the government realised they were pointless, but more than likely because they do not have the funds for it after bailing out the banks. At least they have admitted the suggestion the cards would help combat terrorism was exaggerated and the Home Secretary accepted the Government should never have allowed ?the perception to go around that they were a panacea for terrorism?.
The card will now be focused on youngsters so they can prove their age when buying alcohol? what a turnaround and what a completely pointless reason for still rolling out the cards.
I?m also a little cynical that perhaps they have chosen to release this information at this current time due to the news being swamped with Michael Jackson related news, knowing that the Tabloids will ignore this news in favour of poring over a celeb?s death.
At least there has been this turnaround and hopefully in the near future it will be decided that the whole scheme is bollocks and it will be scrapped.
Update 1/7/09: BBC News ? ID scheme is an ?embarrassment?