It was reported yesterday that private shops and post offices might be recruited to collect biometric data for the government’s ID card scheme. This is another addition to the elaborate plan for introducing the UK's new form of identification. Starting next year, some 200,000 airport workers will get identity cards as a condition of employment. The following year, students will be encouraged to apply for a card when opening a bank account, and eventually, the Identity and Passport Service hopes to distribute a substantial number in connection with issuing British passports.
Yet the Home Office is already encountering (justified) opposition to this plan. Many are protesting the £30 charge for an ID card, when most of the population do not see it as necessary. Airlines such as British Airways, Easy Jet and Virgin Atlantic have expressed opposition because they claim the scheme is unfounded and will not increase security. Despite the good intentions of the government, it is obvious that this scheme will build up its already mounting costs. In the next ten years, the ID cards are predicted to cost £4,740 million for British and Irish citizens, and an additional £311 million for foreign nationals. In times like these, who really wants to think about further spending on plans most people contest?
As the government tries to move forward with the ID card scheme, the British people may not be the only opposing force that they face. As mentioned earlier, the Home Office is looking to "use market forces and competition" by enlisting the services of private companies, organization and retailers to enrol UK citizens in the program. Those outside of the Home Office, however, speculate whether private companies would be willing to invest millions into a program that very well could be scrapped by a new administration.
So, we must wait and see how the execution of the ID card scheme pans out in the next few years. But getting fingerprinted while shopping for groceries at the supermarket is still a rather worrying thought.