December 22, 2006
The United Kingdom has canceled plans for a national identification database and plans to collect biometric data on all citizens and visitors.
Still, efforts toward a national ID system have not been scrapped completely. They remain in a strategic action plan released this week. The British government also is still considering requiring foreign nationals to register biometric data, and instead of building one massive database for the identification system, the government plans to use three existing databases. Privacy International campaigned against the national identity cards using research from the London School of Economics & Political Science. In a 2005 report, researchers, using existing studies and information, concluded that the system could benefit society but the U.K. proposals were not safe or "appropriate." "There was an overwhelming view expressed by stakeholders involved in this report that the proposals are too complex, technically unsafe, overly prescriptive, and lack a foundation of public trust and confidence," the report stated. The report suggested that the British government could achieve its objectives of preventing identity theft and terrorism by giving people greater control over the disclosure of their own personal information and increased border patrols and resources for conventional police intelligence. It warned against new and unforeseen problems -- related to technical, security, and oversight issues -- with implementing a program on such a massive scale.
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