back to article Brits split on ID cards

The British public is evenly split on ID cards - 47 per cent think they're a good idea while 50 per cent think not. The survey of over 1,000 people looked at attitudes to several proposed government IT projects including the database of all UK children, the central register of personal information and fingerprints to support …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    I've said it before...

    ... and i'll say it again. DO NOT WANT.

    NO2ID should have a chat with those folks who had their details "misplaced" by HM Gov. and see how those 25m folks feel about more data being collected by these gimps.

    Somehow I think every PM who doesn't scrap the idea as his first action in office will find himself out of office very quickly.

    Yeah, i'll put down the paint thinner now...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good Idea!

    Of course it's a good idea having ID cards. Another good idea is border controls. It's not the idea that's offensive, it's the fact that the Government intend to manage this project at a huge cost to the taxpayer when they have already proven that they are incompetent where project management is concerned and even moreso where IT projects are concerned. There are also grave concerns about data security - another area where the Government has a less than glowing track-record. This Government continually prove themselves to be incompetent until it comes to awarding themselves payrises where it seems they are very effective.

    I propose that all politicians beg us for forgiveness and offer themselves for ritual suicide which we can vote on by referendum.

  3. Alex Read

    Well that's a good number for the government

    47% of people interviewed worked for the government departments managing the marketing of ID cards? Highly unfair that interview I'd say, but then I guess that's normal behaviour when we're talking about another waste-of-taxpayers-money project which the government needs to draw support from.

    Wonder where the other departments interviewed were from to stick up for other government funded IT projects and the like...

  4. PugRallye

    Is it just me?

    Long time reader, first time poster etc....

    Whenever I read things about "40% of the population approve of ID cards" I always wonder - "Is that 40% of people who know and understand what the scheme involves, the govn' history on IT projects, the costs vs benefits (real, claimed) etc etc"

    I can't believe that if you asked clued up, knowlegeable people the stats would be the same?

    Certainly the only people I've ever met who DID approve of ID cards were very quickly and easily turned once a few basic arguments were made....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news

    It appears that 47% of the UK population are the sort of fucktards that don't read newspapers, don't watch (or listen) to the news and wouldn't understand it if it published their identity to the world.

    They still have curtains though.

  6. Johnny G

    Good idea or not?

    Whether or not they’re a good idea, the key question should be "why do we need them?"

    I have yet to see any valid justification for them...

    It's claimed they will help fight against terrorism. How so??

    It's claimed they will reduce identity theft. How so??

  7. Anthony Sanford

    How about

    How about them taking a survey of IT professionals and asking them the same questions.

    I can guess what the answer would be.

  8. Fiona

    Am I the only one

    who read that as "Brits spit on ID cards"?

  9. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    ID cards vs police: a modest proposal

    I hear in the news this lunchtime that Sir Ronnie Flanaghan says that the policing budget is insufficient to support the current number of police officers.

    Police are a lot more use than ID cards.

    The obvious solution is to bin the entire ID card idea and use the freed up money to fund the police properly. That's unlikely to need all if it, so use another 0.2% of to cover the Physics shortfall and the rest to improve science and engineering courses.

  10. Steve Browne

    I shant be having one

    I shall renew my Irish passport this time around, but not the British one. Then I wont have to bother with registering for their unwanted ID card.

    I reject the government's arguments completely. They are just fallacious and following a pattern. We wish to control our population, so use something that no one will challenge as a disguise to the legislation we really want to implement. So, terrorism is kept high in the agenda, not because there is a chance of attack, but because it enables the government to legislate OUR freedom away. Paedophiles are another bunch good for justifying restrictive legislation. It wasn't co incidence that a member of a vilified group was selected as the first for the RIPA requirement of disclosing encryption keys. This case against an animal rights activist was carefully selected as there would be absolutely no public support for the victim.

    The problem is, the legislation applies to everyone, not just terrorists and paedophiles.

    So, the sooner people swallow hard and start defending the rights of EVERBODY, including those you despise, the sooner this type of legislation will be dropped.

    Go stand in the Genocide Museum in Vilnius if you want to find out what state control really means. The KGB were not a joke outfit and all of the instruments of torture are still there for you to see. I do not wish to see anything similar here.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Looking at the results in detail

    What is also interesting is the percentages who think it a very good idea or a very bad idea. Across the whole population, of the 47% who thought it was a good idea this was made up of 12% who thought it was a very good idea and 35% who thought it only good. On the negative side, the 50% was split into 25% who thought it a very bad idea and 25% who thought it a bad idea.

    What this means, if you put some flowery rhetoric on the figures, only 1 in 9 people in the population are really behind this idea, whereas 1 in 4 people are dead set against it.

  12. Guy Herbert

    Would love to know why, indeed

    I have a few plausible guesses to hand, but I would love to know _why_ the people who think it is a good idea do so.

    Yes, they are largely uninformed, though that's scarcely surprising seeing as even the ministers promoting the scheme can only do so reading off an IPS script. But they must have some positive reason even if it is only "because Joan Ryan says so and she seems like an authority figure I can surrender my own judgment to."

    Why, for probably atypical example, does AC @ 13:11 think, "Of course it's a good idea..." ? "Of course" implies s/he thinks his/her reasoning is obvious, but it is profoundly obscure to yours truly.

    [Still awaiting a NO2ID icon for Reg comments.]

  13. John Macintyre
    Thumb Down

    better percentages

    100% of [Gordon Brown's] want this card. 100% yay lets go ahead!

    muppets. couldn't manage a piss up in a brewery

  14. Paul

    I'd be happy if...

    ... the government would actually use this idea to simplify things. You know, get rid of passport, driving license, birth certificate, tax records etc with one large database that had one fee attached to it.

    Instead all they're doing is adding another layer of complexity which is entirely unrequired!

  15. Steve Foster
    Black Helicopters


    No, you're not the only one. In fact, I had to read the title 3 times before it registered as "split".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Don't do that, then they will get your DNA as well.

  17. Nix

    3% lost

    If 50% are against, and 47% are for, then where are the other 3%? Surely if the figures were 53 - 47 then it would be scrapped. I can only imagine the information from the remaining 3% managed to become lost after a government minister accidently posted it through the front door of alquieda, apparently it was disgusied as a traditional british post box

  18. Spleen

    Nope, No2ID

    "Campaigners for No2ID said that with 25 per cent of people strongly opposed to ID cards the government could face the refusal of millions of people to carry such a card."

    This will never ever happen. Even if 25 per cent of Britons would refuse to carry a card because the government orders them to, 0 point 000 something per cent will refuse to carry a card if it means being unable to buy beer, or get treated at hospital, or get a job.

    If I sound like a broken record it's because I'm doing my best to compete with the Government, who sound less like a broken record and more like a ZX Spectrum during loading: a wall of continuous, irritating noise.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why, for probably atypical example, does AC @ 13:11 think, "Of course it's a good idea..." ? "Of course" implies s/he thinks his/her reasoning is obvious, but it is profoundly obscure to yours truly.

    Without ID cards (or, forget the cards, just the ability to positively identify somebody from the details that they give) we will never have border controls, we will never know who is in our country and out of the people who are in our country, how many of them should be. It's not about ID Cards as such, but border controls are very important and you can't have adequate border controls without positive identification.

    You may remember that a police force (can't remember which one) recently had in custody the number 1 most wanted paedophile but because of inadequate information at that time and the way the system currently works they let him go without realising who it was. If ID Cards were in force then this scenario would have a much smaller chance of occurring - if you can't prove who you are then you remain in custody until either you prove who you are and are released or prove who you are and are deported. It may not matter much to you but if this person continues to act on his paedophiliac tendencies would you like to be the one who tells their mother that ID Cards are a bad idea.

    I stand by my statement that ID Cards are a good idea. I also stand by my statement that politicians should beg forgiveness for even considering that they are competent enough to implement them.

    Apart from saying that any obvious reasons were profoundly obscure to you, you didn't actually give your objections to ID Cards. Apart from the obvious incompetence of the Government I have no objections to ID Cards in principle and would like to hear what your objections are Guy.

    Everyone here is objecting to the cost of implementation and the data protection angle - I agree. But apart from that, what objection is there to having an ID card? Most of us carry them anyway - I never leave my house without my driving licence - what's the difference?

  20. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters

    Re:Good Idea!

    ***"Of course it's a good idea having ID cards."***

    If you are talking of a piece of plastic with your name on it, then I have no problems with this. I have lots of those already.

    What I *DO* have a problem with is the huge, and probably insecure, expensive and unreliable database that backs this project.

    What I *DO* have a problem with is the government's insistence that the ID Database will be infallible.

    What I *DO* have a problem with is the the Government selling this data to everyone and anyone (just witness the lowlifes the DVLA will sell your details to).

    What I *DO* have a problem with is the way these cards ( and your inclusion on the database ) is being made compulsory by the 'back door'.

    Am I surprised that the UK has such an enormous population of retards who think this is a good idea? In a country where a survey of under 20's revealed the following.....

    20% thought Winston Churchill was a fictional character.

    27% thought Florence Nightingale was fictional.

    65% thought King Arthur was real.

    58% thought Sherlock Holmes was real.

    51% thought Robin Hood was real.

    Is it *really* any surprise that 47% are thick enough to think that our continual decent into a 'Surveillance Society' is a good idea?

  21. TheHempKnight


    Yes, it was all stored on a MacBook Air which was inside a Manilla envelope at the time too.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I didn't even notice until I read your post!

  23. BossHog
    Thumb Down

    Re-posted from another article - but I'd be interested to know your thoughts

    One question: When we eventually "apply" for our ID cards, how will they know that the identity information we provide is correct?

    There are three possibilities:

    1) They can't really check the identity info, in which case, surely we can all apply as "Gordon Brown" and see what happens...

    2) They can check the info based on existing records, which raises the question of why we 'need' ID cards in the first place.

    3) They don't care whether the information is correct, but whatever you send will become your new identity - there for tracking you from now on. This clearly signifies a shifting of the balance between subject and state. It also allows people to reinvent themselves (say, illegal immigrant to 3rd generation British subject).

    Since (1) is completely pie-shop, and (3) raises far too many nasty questions, I am sure the Government would suggest (2) as the correct answer. The reasoning would be something like "currently it *can* be done, but it's complex and painful - this will make it much easier". To me, that isn't reason enough!

  24. Fiona
    Black Helicopters

    @Steve Foster

    Am I the only one who sees that icon as a face with a mohawk hair-do? Looks to me like a 'No Punks Here' sign...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ John Macintyre


    I know of another Gordon Brown who strongly disagrees, so only 50% of the Gordon Browns I know support ID cards.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apparently 49% is not a title, funny... stupid title rule - dump it

    probably the same 49% that think our security forces are doing a good job, that if you encrypt data you're obviously a criminal and that shooting that Brazilian was totally justified and his own fault.

  27. Jack


    I'm pretty sure that under the law as it stands not identifying yourself to a police officer if asked to do so is an offence and you can be detained until such time as you are able to positively identify yourself (PACE Act I think), so there was really no need for that situation to have happened.

    As for border control, there already exists an ID mechanism for that, it's called a passport and I can't see why an ID card would change the situation.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Am I surprised that the UK has such an enormous population of retards who think this is a good idea? "

    Using my headline and then making this statement you seem to be saying that I'm a retard while at the same time making exactly the same point as I made. It looks like I'm at least in good company.

  29. Aram

    @Martin Gregorie

    I read your comment & agreed so wholeheartedly I jumped straight to the bottom of the page to post a reply myself.

    The money earmarked for the ID card scheme would be far, far better spent on practically anything else!

  30. Mark

    Re: Nope, No2ID

    I'll refuse and if I cannot live here without such an ID I will stop living here. If I'm stopped and asked to show, I'll say no. If I'm forced or arrested for saying no, I will consider that an attempt at kidnapping.

    I will require the ID of anyone asking my ID and I will require access to an independent device to verify their ID.

    And then I'll refuse.


    If I'm arrested I will fight.

    If I'm subdued and placed in prison, I will no longer require a home or a job. When released I will be unable to GET a job and will still not have ID (I will destroy it). I will then be unable to live legally and will therefore live illegally until I am caught and put in prison again, where once again I will not have to have a job or ID.

    I will not go quietly.

  31. heystoopid

    A word from Captain Vallo

    "Not I . All my life I've watched injustice and dishonesty fly the flag of decency . I do not trust it . "

  32. Ros
    Paris Hilton

    At least Reg readers aren't split

    It's a moronic, hairbrained scheme.

    In 2005 they were saying it would cost around £18bn. What are the chances of that price going down?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there a pattern emerging here...?

    So, 50% of British people are against ID cards while 47% support them? (Not quite "equally split", is it?)

    As I recall about 50% of Americans support Dubya, the War on Terror, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, and for all I know the planned wars in Iran, Pakistan, etc., etc., etc.

    And about 50% of Americans have not read one single book in the last year.

    It looks as if about half of our populations share certain characteristics which can easily be imagined to go hand in hand.

  34. Mike


    The price of passports & photo licences went up a long time ago to pay for all new ID Cards. Will the government now drop the price of these documents and refund all those who have paid. I think not Come on Gordon make your mind up i need a new passport this year along with my 2 kids.

  35. Charles Manning

    The irony

    While people bitch about having an ID card safely tucked in their wallet where nobody can read it, they'll happily drive around in a car that has number plates that can be read from a hundred metres away and looked up by anyone for a small fee at the motor vehicle licensing dept.

  36. BitTwister

    @Charles Manning

    > While people bitch about having an ID card safely tucked in their wallet where nobody can read it, [number plates can still be read]

    It's not an ID card, as such, which most people are objecting to - we already carry plenty of stuff which would identify us. It's the shifting, unfounded and rather silly reasons "why" we need one (AKA "lies") and the insidious purposes behind the accompanying ID & DNA database which causes the worry. Well it worries the crap out of me, anyway. The criminally poor record of just about *any* aspect of IT involving the government doesn't exactly add confidence either.

  37. Sid

    Irony is...

    ...someone who thinks ID Cards are a 'good idea' but posts anonymously.

  38. Nealle Page

    Come on..

    As a South African I have lived with a Government ID book my whole life. In the past it contained, Drivers Licence, Firearm permits etc. (the older generation called it the "Book of Life"). It was proven so fallible that the Drivers licence and all the rest were removed and issued as separate cards. It is still used to prove ID for banking transactions etc.

  39. Eddie

    Another Survey

    1. £18bn+ for a ropey database with all your details on it & ID card to carry round.

    2. £15bn to BT to replace all the copper phone lines with fibre and move the country into the 21st Century.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nice idea

    @AC - 7th February 2008 14:41 "if you can't prove who you are then you remain in custody until either you prove who you are..."

    Sounds like a nice place to live. I think this sort of thing pretty much went out with feudalism; it's called freedom. Perhaps you could try reading this:

  41. Robert T

    I want an optional ID card for travel in the EU!

    I don't want fingerprints, DNA, or retina information on my card (although if it's there, I don't want it stored in a central database). I want something with traditional security measures that serves the same purpose as a passport within the EU. Many EU countries dictate that you must carry your passport or passport equivalent with you at all times, which is of course a ridiculous requirement for us manly men who don't carry handbags or bum bags. I want a card that will fit in my wallet along with bank cards, health cards and travel tickets.

  42. Tony

    @The irony

    >> drive around in a car that has number plates<<

    I remember reading a number of articles that highlight how many people drive without a licence, without tax or MOT. I believe this was about 1 in 6?

    I lived in a big city a few years ago, and the police were having problems with "community vehicles" - those that were being driven by maybe up to a dozen different people over the course of a week.

    It seems that if you are reasonably honest and law abiding you will be the one they come for; if you take a chance and don't do what you're told, the chances are that you'll get away with it!

  43. Ascylto


    Politicians lie all the time. Politicians manipulate statistics all the time. Politicians have certain areas of their (publicly paid-for) lives we are not allowed to view. Politicians lose our data frequently. Politicians lie all the time again.

    Q: Who want us to have ID Cards?

    A: Politicians.

    Case closed.

  44. Spleen

    Re: Mark

    That's how I'd like it work, and it may work for you. But I see my own future as an ID refusenik as follows: lose my job (my current job is pretty secure, but there are no jobs for life anymore), be forced to go and live with my parents, disappoint not only them but a large proportion of my own self, probably eventually give in, having achieved absolutely nothing. Some martyrdom. The movie-scene image of the police demanding "Ihre Papiere bitte" will probably never happen, as I'm white, very middle-class and not inclined to obvious criminal acts. What am I going to do when the law gets passed? March into a police station and demand to be arrested? I can see their faces already.

    You might remember various stories about elderly pensioners who refused to pay council tax and were jailed - for about a week. Their martyrdom completely failed to influence anything except sales of local papers, and I believe that they all paid up in the end - at least, I don't think any of them are still in jail. Any opposition to the ID card will be on about the same scale, only we'll have even less credibility. Old lady thrown in for not paying obviously unjust tax = cool. Tech geek thrown in for refusing to carry an ID card, because of privacy and security arguments none of the other lags understand = fail.

    In one of the council tax cases I distinctly remember an old lady's daughter paying the tax herself, without her mother's consent, to get her released. The mother was livid. If I was her, I would have been rewriting my will. It illustrates that martyrdom can only occur when the majority are already behind the cause you're being martyred for. If you martyr yourself for an unpopular cause, you don't inspire people to join the movement, you're just considered a crank. Martyrdom does result in changing public opinion; changing public opinion results in martyrom.

  45. Spleen


    "does not", obviously.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...someone who thinks ID Cards are a 'good idea' but posts anonymously.

    Posting from work can be hazardous to your career especially when I work for the company who will more than likely get the admin contract for the ID Cards. Deal with it.

    Get off my case - I've still not had an answer to why ID Cards are a bad idea if you ignore the cost and the fact that the Government will be managing another IT project that is certain to fail. In principle though, can anyone give me a reason why ID Cards are a bad idea?

    Put up or shut up.

  47. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down


    ***"Posting from work can be hazardous to your career especially when I work for the company who will more than likely get the admin contract for the ID Cards. Deal with it."***

    So you are worried about your job, then? Very sensible.

    ***"Get off my case - I've still not had an answer to why ID Cards are a bad idea if you ignore the cost and the fact that the Government will be managing another IT project that is certain to fail. In principle though, can anyone give me a reason why ID Cards are a bad idea?"***

    I think you answered that yourself in your first paragraph....

    There are times when it is justified and sensible to remain anonymous. The Government ID card scheme badly erodes that right. The real worry is that this, or some future, cash strapped, Government will see ID database information as a 'nice little earner' and sell that information to people you or I might not want to have it.

    They *already* do this with our vehicle registration documents, selling our names and addresses to cowboy clampers. I have little confidence they will not do the same with the much more personal (biometric) information in the ID database.

    Oh, and BTW. If your employer is *that* paranoid, I'm fairly sure they are monitoring your Net activity anyway. But that's OK isn't it? Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right?

  48. Mark


    fine, you put up with an ID card. Don't use that as a reason for ME to have it.

  49. Mark


    Fine but you're still playing their rules.

    If this goes ahead, I will stop playing their rules. I discard them utterly. I have no dependendants and I refuse. I'm not doing it to make a change for others, I'm doing it for me. If nothing else changes, I will still refuse and will still disobey any law since disobeying this one element makes me lawless. I will act no longer within it.

    I will die one day so in a sense anything I do will end with no change to the universe. The only change I can enable is the change in me.

  50. Ascylto

    @Anonymous Coward

    As you are an IT worker (allegedly) ... do your own homework! Educate yourself by going to the NoToID website. Don't expect people who have already armed themselves with knowledge to fill your gaps.

    I'll go this far, however, as a beginning to your path of discovery by listing some reasons why ID cards are bad ...





    Dachau ...

    and if you think an ultra-right wing government is not yet available to use the information on your ID card just imagine what the electorate can vote in when the Moslems REALLY piss them off!


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