(timesonline) Make your identity known -- or face a fine of $1,000 (UK)

Submitted by Editor on Tue, 30/11/2004 - 21:27

People who fail to tell the Government when they move to a new address will face a fine of up to $1,000 under the Government's plans for identity cards published yesterday.

By Richard Ford,
Home Correspondent,
The Times - London

November 30, 2004

Failure to register for the scheme will also carry a fine of up to $1,000 and anyone caught tampering with the database containing the details of 40 million people could be jailed for ten years.

The fines and jail terms were outlined in the Identity Cards Bill published by the Home Office which admitted that full costings of the scheme could n ot be provided because the technology involved was still developing.

The scheme could become compulsory sooner than previously thought as the Bill makes no reference to previous ministerial assertions that 80 per cent o f adults would have to register for a voluntary scheme before it was made m andatory.

The identity card scheme will be phased in from 2007-2008 and is to be combined with a passport. Anyone applying for a new passport will have no choice but to receive the identity card.

Last month the Government said that the cost would be $385, but notes accompanying the Bill said that this figure was based on 2004 prices. The notes said that the actual fee would be made clear when the first chargeable cards are issued.

The Bill contained little new information on the cost of the huge project which has been estimated at between $1.3 billion and $3.1 billion. But it did reveal that card readers, which will be required at thousands of benefits offices, GPs' surgeries and other government departments, will cost up to $3750 each. These costs are not included in the overall estimates.

Failing to sign up to the database will carry a fine of up to $32,500 and individuals who submit a spoiled application could be fined up to $1,000. Not updating registered details such as addresses will be punishable with fines of up to $1,000 in the county courts -- or the sheriff courts in Scotland -- as will failing to renew a card.

This sanction will apply from the moment cards start being issued in 2007-2008 -- before Parliament has voted to make it compulsory for everyone to have the document.

Ministers expect that 80 per cent of the population will have the identity card by 2014.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, said: "The identity card scheme will give people confidence, convenience and security in an increasingly vital aspect of modern life -- proving and protecting their identity.

"Publication of the Bill marks a further step in the careful process of consultation and refinement which we began almost three years ago."

A host of new criminal offences will be created by the Bill to deal with people who try to abuse the new ID cards. Fraudulently using a card will carry up to 10 years' imprisonment, as will creating a false entry on the National Identity Register, or tampering with it.

Fraudulently obtaining an ID card, or altering one, will carry a sentence of up to two years. Officials with access to the database will face up to two years in jail if they disclose details without authorisation.

The ID cards will carry "biometric" details about each person such as fingerprints or an electronic scan of the iris of the eye. These details -- along with a photograph, signature, date of birth, address and nationality -- will also be stored on the central register.

Officials will be able to compare data on the card with the register, theoretically making the cards impossible to forge.

Under the Bill, the Home Secretary has the power to force anyone to provide information required for background checks in ID card applications. The register will also record previous addresses, a new register number for each person, National Insurance numbers, passport numbers and driving licence numbers.

It will record details of every person who countersigns an application for an ID card, and every time a card is amended, lost, destroyed or stolen.

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: "The case for ID cards is still to be made. First, what is its purpose? Second, does the technology exist to enable it to curb terrorism, serious crime and the avalanche of illegal immigration? Third, is the Home Office capable of introducing them?" Fourth, is it cost-effective and fifth, can we protect civil liberties and privacy, not just in the use of the ID cards but also in its associated databases?"

COST OF A CARD

The identity card scheme is to be phased in from 2007-08, when anyone who applies for or renews a passport will have to get a card

The estimated cost to the public of the passport/identity document will be $385, based on today's prices

The overall estimated costings are put at between $1.3 billion and $3 1 billion, not including the cost of machines to read cards, which will be $750 each

It will not initially be compulsory to carry the card but Parliament is likely to vote in 2014 on whether to make it a legal requirement for every citizen to have one

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1381222,00.html

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