Advocates of the scheme want to set up a "smart border." But we should be wary before handing over so much information to the governmentby Dylan Bhundia / August 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
It seems that ID cards have always been on the political agenda in the UK since World War Two, without ever being important enough to make the leap from an idea to a fully implemented policy. Once again, it has been put back on the political agenda. The Conservative leaning think-tank Policy Exchange have proposed reintroducing a “national IDsystem” in response to the Windrush scandal.
David Goodhart, head of demography, immigration and integration at Policy Exchange, said that the ID registration system that will be used for EU citizens in the UK after 2020 should be extended to current UK citizens.
ID cards have been used before in the UK, most notably from 1939-52 to help authorities distribute rations and heighten security during and after World War Two. More recently, the Identity Cards Act was passed in 2006 before the coalition government killed it off in 2010.
It is important to clarify a difference between these examples and the details of the report. In the report, Goodhart and Norrie make clear that such a system “should not require a physical ID card or BRP (biometric residency permit)”—it should be a digital system instead.
Concerns about illegal and mass, uncontrolled immigration fueled the vote to leave the EU in 2016—according to a report by Kirby Swales, 20 per cent of leave voters cited immigration as the most important factor in deciding their vote. By giving each and every citizen a digital ID, the report suggests we can continue to have the levels of immigration that are required for the economy, whilst also ensuring that our border is secure and efficient.
Goodhart argues that in a sovereign, post Brexit Britain with control over its own borders, it is very much the time not for “the elimination of borders… but for the smarter border.”
Harvey Redgrave, senior research fellow at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, rallied behind the proposal. Whilst Policy Exchange proposed an initial voluntary scheme, Redgrave took it a step further, proposing “compulsory digital identities” for everyone in the UK.
He cited the example of Estonia, where “encrypted ID’s allow people to authenticate themselves online, so that they can vote, submit tax claims, or manage medical prescriptions without leaving the house.”
Alongside this increased efficiency, Redgrave argued…