ID cards herald a snooper state

IT IS simply wrong of James Hall, CEO of the Identity & Passport Service, to suggest that the personal information stored on the National Identity Register is equivalent to the data already collected for passports (Debate, 19 July).

The passport database requires only a single name and address at the time of application, together with a copy of the holder's passport photograph.

Schedule 1 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 (http://tinyurl.com/IDsched1) describes 50 classes of information that may be stored on the ID database.

These data include every name by which an applicant has been known, every place of residence (in the UK or elsewhere), a photograph, signature, fingerprints and "other" biometric information (eg iris scans), national insurance number, driver number, passport and identity card numbers issued by other countries, and much else besides.

Anyone enrolling on the ID database will be subjecting themselves to lifelong reporting requirements. There are severe financial penalties for failure to keep the authorities notified of any change of detail.

Furthermore, the ID database will store information of a kind that no government department has ever had access to before, except where the security services have placed suspects under surveillance.

The national identity register's audit trail will record every occasion on which an identity is verified, such as stays in hotels and visits to clinics, providing a detailed profile of every citizen's life.

Dr Geraint Bevan, Glasgow

UNDER the Identity Cards Act 2006 the Identity and Passport Service has become a branch of the snooper state. Everyone registered for an identity card will subsequently have to report every change in their circumstances on pain of a fine of up to 1,000, and be forced to re-register every ten years or face more large fines. Greatly increased amounts of information about citizens will be kept on a new 6bn database, funded by inflated 77 passport fees. Logging ID card usage in the database will allow government to monitor citizens' daily lives.

No democratic government has ever tried to track its population's movements in this way. Whitehall's identity cards scheme has no place in our country, and must be scrapped immediately.

Andrew Watson, Cambridge

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