Can National Identity Cards Combat Fraud & ID Theft?

Ever since the proposal for a UK National Identity Card was first made there has been a great deal of controversy, political maneuverings and differing opinions with regard to it’s potential benefits and costs.

The cost of introducing the compulsory identity card in Britain has been priced between £5.4bn by the Labour government and £20bn by the Conservative opposition.

There are many reasons why a large number of people in Great Britain oppose it.

ID-cards

Those reasons are better explored on other internet sites, such as NO2ID, but briefly they include –

  • The excessive cost, which will probably be borne in part by the taxpayer
  • The perceived abolition of Habeas Corpus and the right to a fair trial
  • The furthering of the ‘Big Brother’ state
  • The intrusive planned fingerprinting of 11-15 year olds
  • The potential abuse by government, leading to politically motivated justice
  • Further profiling of the populace. For example, it is rumoured that those from ethnic minorities may be forced to have the new cards first
  • The proposed charge of £40+ for the above ‘rights’ and ‘benefits’

Of course the above views are not shared by all. In fact I would imagine many of the sheeple of Great Britain are probably blissfully unaware of the issues and will just blindly go along with whatever their masters tell them to do. After all, the National Identity Card will eliminate fraud, identity theft, immigration issues and terrorism in one fell swoop…. won’t it?

I guess your answer to that will depend largely on your own views, political or otherwise.

First ministers claimed ID cards were needed to combat benefit fraud, then to guard us against terrorism, then to fight identity fraud – having lost these arguments they now they claim they will be used to combat illegal immigration.

Damian Green, shadow immigration minister

In any event, the effect of an id card on immigration and terrorism are for others to discuss – I’m interested in the potential impact on fraud and identity theft.

The effectiveness of identity cards can likely be determined by the information they are planned to store, so what can we expect to be recorded on the UK cards, due to be released in 2009 and compulsory in 2010?

  • Name
  • Address
  • Gender
  • Date of Birth
  • Photograph
  • Biometric data, i.e., fingerprints and/or iris data and/or a facial scan

Will this aid the fight against fraud?

To a fair degree, this will depend on how an identity card is used as a safety precaution. If it was compulsory to use one to purchase goods and services then it is foreseeable that it would reduce fraud significantly. Of course there would always be groups of criminals able to produce fake cards, respective of the security measures implemented.

However, I personally would imagine that such a move would cause outcry. There would be privacy and civil liberty issues with such a requirement, not to mention the religious overtones (I’m not particularly religious but requiring an id card to make all purchases reminds me of parts of the Bible, namely the last chapter, Revelations).

In terms of identity theft, again, an identity card could certainly help to minimise it, especially when used in conjunction with a shredder. ID cards could be required when opening bank accounts, applying for mortgages or other forms of credit. I can see how having to prove your identity, and being able to do so with an official national identity card, could cut down on this type of crime.

The big negative point with regard to the above though, as I see it, is the fact that any form of security can be broken, rendered useless, manipulated or copied by someone who has the resources and determination to do so. The type of people to whom this applies are, I believe, likely to be –

  • identity thieves
  • fraudsters
  • illegal immigrants
  • terrorists

In other words, the people who are most targeted by the introduction of a national identity card are also those most likely to have the motivation, information, determination and resources to circumnavigate it.

I can only imagine what an identity thief could do if they got hold of someone else’s identity card – after all, it contains all their personal information, including the biometric data!

As you can probably tell, I am against identity cards. I do have concerns with regard to invasion of privacy and increased surveillance in this country so many people died to keep ‘free’. However, my main concern is that the identity card scheme will just be a big waste of taxpayers money.

What do you think? Are there any positives or negatives I have missed out? Do you agree with my views or am I completely wrong? Whatever you think, I’m very interested in hearing your comments.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

Comments

  1. David A Camp says:

    I hate to inform you guys but this is not the beginning of the big brother police state. That began a while back, furthered by the homeland security placing all law enforcement under one roof eliminating checks and balances and the next phase appears to be gps devices small enough to place into a drivers license or other govt sanctioned ID.

    Big brother is here and we no longer have to think for ourselves and with new efforts to profile, frame, inflame ,spy, and keep us on approved medications (provided by the pharmaceutical industries at a nominal cost).

    What can be done – at this point I am without a clue. People like me are powerless to combat the FDA, the pharmecutical industry, the energy companies, the world bank, the trilateral commission etc etc.

    If anyone ahs any ideas – please post them.

  2. Simon Perkins says:

    ID cards may have some of the benefits you describe but at the end of the day they are just another facet of the emerging Big Brother world we have lived in for much longer than people will ever realise.

  3. identity cards are another way of our leaders controlling us. another way of knowing who we are, where we are and what we are doing.

  4. Do you think that national id cards is the beginning of a police state?

  5. Thanks for letting me know about your site Greg, it looks interesting. I especially like the idea of the ‘yes/no’ page – I can see you having a lively debate there and a large number of visitors.

    I’ll be sure to pop over later for a more detailed read.

  6. > What do you think? Are there any positives or negatives I have missed out?

    Hi,

    We’re working on a wiki style site showing the positives and negatives of the id card debate.
    http://www.debatewise.com/debates/id-cards-and-the-national-identity-register-should-be-scrapped

    Greg

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