Could someone please explain me this British anti-ID obsession?
I honestly do not understand the British anti-ID obsession.
The need to prove your identity does arise in countless occasions, from registering with a GP, to opening a bank account, to starting a new job, to buying alcohol or cigarettes, etc…
In fact, in most cases some sort of photographic ID is required; most people tend to use passports or driving licences, but it is not compulsory to hold either. So what do you do if you hold neither a passport nor a driving licence? Mine is not a rhetoric question: I would genuinely like to know. In most situations I have faced I would not have been able to open a bank account, get a mortgage, or start a new job without either; I could have probably made a huge fuss about the fact that holding them isn’t compulsory, but most bureaucracy procedures are such that passports or driving licences are de facto compulsory in the UK, to the extent that holding at least one of the two makes your life indubitably easier. Just to name one, try buying alcohol in a UK supermarket without a passport or a driving licence if you don’t look at least 30!
ID cards would have been a convenient and secure way to prove identity, available to those who don’t want to/can’t drive, and cheaper than a passport for those who don’t need one as they don’t travel overseas.
ID cards are available in most Western countries, but they haven’t resulted in Big Brother police states. In fact, the information held on ID cards is, for the most part, already held across governmental bodies and agencies: the tax authorities, the DVLA (for non-Brits, that’s the entity issuing driving licences), the registrar offices etc.
Those who are worried about Big Brother implications should be more concerned about things like mobile apps tracking all our activities on smartphones, or the pervasive (way more so in the UK than in most Continental European countries with ID cards) nature of credit reference agencies, i.e. of private companies which have extremely detailed information on our finances, the kind of information and the kind of detail which would be every dictator’s dream.
Additionally, relying more on ID cards and less on proofs of address would increase security and decrease frauds: a 5-year old with a PC could fake a banking statement and print it on A4 paper, whereas faking a modern ID card is much harder (not impossible, nothing is impossible, but much harder yes).
Finally, ID cards would be extremely convenient when travelling to other EU countries: those who don’t need to travel outside of the EU wouldn’t need to get a passport, which is much more expensive; additionally, ID cards are easier to carry (and harder to lose, as they fit in a wallet) in all those situations, especially abroad, when British citizens are supposedly required to carry a passport: from proving your identity when paying with a credit card in Spain to driving in most of Continental Europe. In fact, in these cases driving licences alone are not accepted, and in many European countries a British tourist driving without carrying his British passport with him could be fined.