Sunday, 31 January 2010

Government Targets Surrey for ID Cards

On 25 January, the government brought into force ID cards by stealth, for adults under 25 years old in two specifically selected areas, Greater London and the North West . On careful examination, the Order includes a range of post codes in Surrey – including Molesey and Thames Ditton in the Esher & Walton constituency.

ID cards are intrusive, ineffective and – at an estimated total cost of £19billion – ludicrously expensive in tough economic times. Introducing ID cards by stealth is just the latest illustration of the creeping authoritarianism of this government. Targeting young adults in Surrey is an insult to their intelligence. I am campaigning to make sure people have all the information on ID cards.

ID cards won't stop crime (they are not compulsory to carry), benefit fraud (the vast majority of which involves lying about personal circumstances not identity), illegal immigration (visitors don't need a card for the first 3 months in the UK) or terrorism (one former head of MI5 labelled them 'absolutely useless' as a security measure).

In fact, they risk making us less – not more – safe, because this government has a woeful record of safeguarding personal data. It exposed the personal records on hundreds junior doctors, lost three million driving licence applications and mislaid the entire nation’s child benefit records. So why would anyone trust them with vast amounts of our personal information on a mammoth new national identity register? Microsoft's National Technology Officer has warned that the ID card regime is so vulnerable that it could 'trigger massive identity fraud on a scale beyond anything we have seen before.'

On top of these flaws, ID cards will cost £30 per person - plus the cost of replacement when your details change. If you forget to tell the government of any changes in your circumstances - such as change of address or marriage - they can fine you £1,000. Is this really what 16-24 year olds - whether students or working - need right now as we struggle out of recession? A Conservative government will abolish ID cards, and focus on security measures that work, like a dedicated border police force.

On Friday, I will be down in Molesey and Thames Ditton asking local people for their views, and posting their responses on this site via podcast.


Anonymous said...

Hear hear. This government has got away with far too much by way of creeping 'anti terrorism' measures that are really nothing of the sort. The government belongs to us, not the other way around, and it's time they were reminded of that fact.

Anonymous said...

The residents of Molesey and Thames Ditton (of which Mr Raab is not one) will be grateful for any initiative that makes it harder for those who are under age to buy alcohol. Thames Ditton - Weston Green in particular- is plagued by drunken youths, particularly on Saturday nights. In summer, they congregate most evenings on the green and it can be very intimidating. The police do nothing.

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