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This House would introduce compulsory identity cards
This House would introduce compulsory identity cards
In an age of technology, more and more information can be gathered from an individual for security measures, for example for fingerprint or iris checks at airport security. While the intention of this may be to increase security across nations, some people have begun to question how much of their personal information is really needed by government organisations, and whether their liberty is as risk. While the standards of identity cards may vary from country to country, nations such as the UK, Canada, the USA, France and Australia have all debated implementing a system of biometric identity cards. In this case, each citizen would have a card with their personalised data, such as a fingerprint. However, this information may be expanded to include other information such as medical records, and use of identity cards may ‘function creep’ to an extent where it may eventually double as identification for an individual’s bank account or car ownership, or even as a passport. The technology is constantly growing and may some day incorporate many other aspects of ordinary, everyday life if this motion were to be implemented. It is fair to assume that, under the motion, an individual would be required to produce their identity card whenever requested by a figure of authority; for example a policeman or welfare officer.
While it is possible for the proposition to frame the debate around a standard identification card which does not necessarily feature biometric information, this is already status quo in countries such as Belgium, Germany and Portugal. Arguably these examples could form a policy for the proposition side to propose. However, given that many people already carry a form of basic identification with their name on – such as a driver’s license or credit card – the debate would perhaps be broader, and bring more interesting points of discussion, if the proposition’s mechanism featured biometric identity cards. These are the source of much topical discussion and invoke arguments over privacy of information, the use and safety of biometric information by the government, and the true benefit to the cardholder.
 The Telegraphy. ‘Heathrow Airport first to fingerprint.’ Published 07/02/2008. Accessed from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1580993/Heathrow-airport-first-to-fingerprint.html on 10/09/11.
 Accessed from http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/PDF/AccentureTravelSecurityServices.pdf on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.valuevisas.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29&Itemid=30 on 10/09/11.
 Accessed from http://www.valuevisas.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29&Itemid=30 on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-20000758-38.html on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.workpermit.com/news/2006_08_28/australia/photo_inedtity_card.htm on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.biometricidentitycards.info/articles/biometric_identity_cards.html on 10/09/11
 BBC. ‘Other countries’ ID schemes.’ Published 03/07/2002. Accessed from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2078604.stm#chart on 10/09/11.
|Points For||Points Against|
|Identity cards improve public safety||An identity card scheme is open to subversion and abuse|
|Identity cards confer advantages on their users||The scheme does not prevent forgery or identity theft|
|Identity cards can assist in the efficient monitoring of immigration||The scheme would cause inconvenience and public discontent|
|Identity cards can be used to locate individuals who are in danger|
|Only those who are guilty have anything to fear from systems that monitor and confirm identities|
Remember to choose a winning argument!
Identity cards improve public safety
Identity cards could prove a key instrument to combat crime, terrorism and fraud. Given that terrorists have used fake passports to cross borders in the past, a sophisticated identity card, possibly containing specific biometric information which cannot be easily faked, could be crucial in preventing terrorist acts in the future. In cases where the police were suspicious, they could rapidly check the identities of many people near a crime scene, which would make their investigation much swifter and more effective. The CBI also believes that ‘the creation of a single source of identity data’ in the form of biometric identity cards would also decrease identity fraud. Given that identity fraud currently costs the UK £2.7 billion per year, Canada over 10 million Canadian dollars per year, and in America identity fraud relating to credit cards alone costs around $8.6 billion per year, this is obviously a serious problem under the status quo. These crimes would be much more difficult if biometric data was required for financial transactions and other activities such as leaving or entering a country; identity cards are the best way forwards. The value of ID cards in combating terrorism and crime is much reduced if not everyone has them as the guilty would be less likely to want to get such cards unless they could somehow fake them.
 Accessed from http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010%5C08%5C10%5Cstory_10-8-2010_pg7_17 on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/main/page.php?217#arguments_identity_fraud on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/agencies-public-bodies/nfa/ on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/id-theft-vol-eng.htm on 10/09/11
 Accessed from http://www.banking-gateway.com/microsites/oracle/US%20Card%20Fraud.pdf on 10/09/11
Many countries – including America and Britain - already use biometric chips in passports to reinforce proof of identity when crossing national borders. If this data does not work in this case, especially since security has increased hugely since 9/11, there is no evidence to support the idea that it would suddenly be improved if this chip was in an identity card instead of an official national passport. Moreover, the biometric information on these cards has already been proved faulty. Experts have demonstrated that they could copy the biometric information provided on identity cards ‘in minutes’. Identity cards are unnecessary and will not help to prevent the crimes mentioned.
 Accessed from http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Passports/Applicationinformation/DG_174159 on 10/09/11
 Accesssed from http://securitysolutions.com/news/security_airport_security_far/ on 10/09/11
 The Times. ‘ “Fakeproof” e-passport is cloned in minutes.’ Published 06/08/2008. Accessed from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4467106.ece on 10/09/11.
Identity cards confer advantages on their users
The average person is faced with numerous requisitions for identification every day, whether trying to access their own bank account, prove their age or prove their address. The identity card could easily incorporate all of this information to become one convenient for of identification and save the user the hassle of carrying so many documents around with them. Given that ‘the average person now has to remember five passwords, five PIN numbers, two number plates, three security ID numbers and three bank account numbers just to get through everyday life’, there is evidently a need for a single, concise form of identification. Moreover, it would help them to identify the people they have to interact with. There have been numerous cases of criminals posing as company officials such as gas workers in order to gain access to somebody’s home and steal from them. These identity cards would particularly help vulnerable citizens who are the most at risk of this kind of injustice. For this reason these cards should be compulsory, they would not be much use as identification if not everyone had one that could be checked by anybody.
 Accessed from http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/150874/too_many_passwords_or_not_enough_brain_power.html on 10/09/11
Just as some people have difficulty remembering so many passwords, so some people have difficulty remembering where they misplaced their belongings. This motion offers no solution if somebody should lose their identity card; given that it may be used to have access to a bank account, act as a travel card or simply be used to grant general access to the bearer, how could they possibly survive if they lost it? It is reasonable to assume that a biometric identity card might take as long or longer than a passport (which contains some biometric data) to be replaced. Given that in the UK it takes three weeks to receive a new passport if you lose it and can cost between £77.50 and £112.50, this is simply too expensive and too slow for the average citizen to be able to continue with their daily life. A week without access to daily necessities such as your own bank account is too long to wait.
 Accessed from http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Passports/howlongittakesandurgentappplications/DG_174148 on 10/09/11
Identity cards can assist in the efficient monitoring of immigration
Illegal immigration is an enormous problem in Western nations. The UK estimates that there are more that one million illegal immigrants living in Britain, likely around 2.2 million. For America, this number could be as high as 11 million. Identity cards would mean that, even if illegal immigrants did succeed in crossing the border, they would most likely be found out because they could not pass routine security checks required on an everyday basis because they would not have been issued an identity card. Given that illegal immigration is frequently linked to international crime such as trafficking, this is clearly a problem which we need to address in a new way.
 The Times. ‘UK home to 1m illegal immigrants.’ Published 25/04/2010. Accessed from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7107598.ece on 10/09/11.
 The Times. ‘UK home to 1m illegal immigrants.’ Published 25/04/2010. Accessed from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article7107598.ece on 10/09/11.
Many illegal immigrants already take steps to avoid official identification. For example, they frequently take jobs which pay cash-in-hand so that they do not have to set up and authorise a bank account, or have a social security number. There is not reason why this would not continue. Moreover, this measure simply provides more fuel for injustice. These is already a problem of police officers targeting minority groups for ‘stop-and-search- checks; under this motion, this injustice would be amplified under the guise of checking for illegal immigrants. This measure is contradictory to the notion of democracy.
Identity cards can be used to locate individuals who are in danger
As biometric identity cards would be able to store medical data, they could be instrumental in saving somebody’s life. For example, if somebody suddenly suffered an epileptic fit, it would be much faster for medical staff to find out their illness and medical history no matter where there medical records are held as everyone’s records would be linked to their ID card, allowing them to be treated faster and more efficiently. It would also be easier to contact a friend or relative if they knew the last place where they had used their identity card, allowing faster unity of family in a medical emergency.
 Accessed from http://ec.europa.eu/research/research-for-europe/science-eco-bite_en.html on 10/09/11
It’s perfectly fine to acknowledge that medical emergencies require fast action – but that’s the exact reason why we use medical alert bracelets. We already have a simply, non-intrusive way of ensuring that somebody who suffers from an illness such as epilepsy or diabetes can be quickly identified – without the need for an expensive and illiberal measure such as identity cards. Moreover, in the need to contact a relative, why not simply use their mobile number? Even if mobile umbers were now required by the government at all times, this is still far less intrusive than the scheme which proposition proposes.
Only those who are guilty have anything to fear from systems that monitor and confirm identities
Law-abiding citizens who have not and do not intend to commit any crimes should not have a problem with this motion. Carrying a single card is not a huge burden to an individual. Rather they can reap the benefits of convenience to them personally, alongside the added security benefit to their whole nation which will help to keep them safe. As it is to be issued to everyone there will not even be the inconvenience of having to spend a long time applying for the card as it is in the government’s interest to make it as simple as possible with mobile offices taking the relevant biometrics where the people live so as to have the least impact on individual’s lives as possible.Improve this
It is perfectly legitimate for an innocent citizen to oppose identity cards on the grounds of how they threaten to alter society. The oppressive measure of gaining and essentially holding to ransom everybody’s intimate personal details and biometric data is hardly a soft measure; it is radical and may completely change the way in which society functions. Moreover, the fear that their card will be lost or stolen, or that their information could be hacked and used by somebody else, is more than ample reason to fear or oppose the introduction of identity cards.
An identity card scheme is open to subversion and abuse
Demanding identity cards has already been shown as a way for police officers and officials to harass minority groups by singling them out for questioning and searches. This motion would simply serve as a thinly-veiled excuse for more intrusive searches which the law would not otherwise allow. This motion could also lead police to believe that those with a criminal record on their identity cards who just happen to be near a crime scene when a crime happens must be involved. This would lead to an unfair perversion of justice as those individuals are seen as the ‘usual suspects’, perhaps blinding the police eye to the real culprits if they did not previously have a criminal record.
 Accessed from http://www.civilrights.org/publications/justice-on-trial/ on 10/09/11
If anything, this is a reason to introduce better police training, not to abandon the concept of identity cards altogether. An unfortunate fact is that immigrants, who often come from poor backgrounds or have low levels of education, are more statistically likely to be involved in crime. This ‘disproportionate’ level of crime among immigrants provides a reason for the seemingly disproportionate targeting of minority groups by police authorities.
The scheme does not prevent forgery or identity theft
The entire premise of national security and crime prevention falls when biometric identity cards are in fact incredibly easy to falsify. Microchips have already been forged in a matter of minutes in an experiment to determine their security, and biometric information can be gained remotely by computer through ‘cracking’, ‘sniffing’ and ‘key-logging’. Moreover, common crimes which would not require any kind of identification to be committed – vehicle theft, burglary, criminal damage, common assault, mugging, rape and anti-social behaviour – would not be combated at all by this measure. Given that hackers have managed to penetrate even the highest-security sites such as the CIA database, there is not only a danger that individual cards would be hacked, but that the greater database of information could be hacked. There is no such thing as an impenetrable security system. We would be far better off using the money which would potentially be funnelled into identity cards to increase computer security and police presence.
 The Times. ‘ “Fakeproof” e-passport is cloned in minutes.’ Published on 06/08/2008. Accessed from http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4467106.ece on 10/09/11.
 The Telegraph. ‘CIA website hacked by Lulz Security’. Published on 16/06/2011. Accessed from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8578704/CIA-website-hacked-by-Lulz-Security.html on 10/09/11
While these crimes are obviously a problem, it doesn’t mean that other crimes which can be challenged by this scheme should be allowed to continue. Identity cards would at least make it more difficult for fraud to occur, which in cases of petty criminals would provide an active deterrent for them to try it in the first place.Improve this
The scheme would cause inconvenience and public discontent
The more information which is incorporated into identity cards, the greater the problems if they are misplaced or stolen. You would be ‘required to report the theft at a police station’ rather than being able to cancel by phone, because the only way to prove that you are the owner of the card would be to have your biological information – like your fingerprints - scanned. Moreover, if your details were stolen online and used without your knowledge, the ‘illusion of security’ surrounding the cards would make it very difficult to probe that it was not in fact you who was using the card. Jerry Fishenden of Microsoft also pointed out that ‘if core biometric details such as your fingerprints are compromised, it is not going to be possible to provide you with new ones’. It is also unreasonable to expect someone to carry this card on them at all times, particularly if police or other authorities are able to stop and search on demand. Overall, the introduction of biometric identity card would create enormous problems for the everyday user if the slightest thing went wrong.
This point alludes to a potentially tiny minority of incidents. It is likely that most people, realising the importance of their card, would not lose it. In cases where it is used properly, it could be an enormous benefit to the user and increase their convenience.Improve this
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