This paper compares some of the issues raised from the perspectives of statism and libertarianism
According to a British Government poll, nearly 80% of its citizens were in favour of National ID cards. Statists believe that this reflects that people understand the major benefits of this card, which can serve as a proof of identity, protect them from identity theft and fraud and confirm their eligibility to public services and prevent fraud in the same. Along with these more personalized benefits, the state they felt would be able to combat terrorism and organized crime and also tackle with the issue of illegal working and immigration to the UK. 2
Liberatarians argue that the Government poll may not reveal the complete picture. While many people do like the idea of a single document that serves as proof of identity, they are not as enthusiastic about paying for the card. Similarly the people do not like to reveal such a large amount of personal data to the state. 3
Identity fraud remains a serious concern in the UK. Over 500% increase in identity fraud cases has been noted in the period between 1999 and 2005.6 Similarly a UK Passport Service estimate based on research conducted in 2002 states that over 10,000 fraudulent passport are made every year. Another estimate by the Department for Work and Pensions using Regional Benefit Review (RBR) suggests that 20 million and 50 million of identity-related benefit fraud is committed each year. 4 In order to support the state in its efforts to wipe out or reduce the menace of identity fraud, statists argue that entitlement or ID created with the effective use of technology are the need of the hour.
Statists have hailed the use of biometric technology as state of art technology that can ensure accuracy and prevent fraud. Biometric includes fingerprints, iris scans, face recognition systems that are unique to every individual.5 Libertarians however feel that technology can never be completely secure. They believe that the increasing number of identity thefts merely reflects the states failure to curb technology related crimes. The question the very validity of the state's claim that the data collected as part of the National identity scheme will not be misused. The views of the libertarians are endorsed by organizations like privacy international. The organization believes that criminals have access to the same sophisticated technology as Governments. A supposedly 'infallible' card is likely to attract greater investment from the criminals and is likely to increase identity theft. The organization even predicts that on the introduction of an identity cards scheme, identity thefts are frauds in the UK are likely to rise to proportions in the USA.6
Another interesting issue raised by libertarians is how can one prove his/her identity while applying for an Identity card. While the existing Identity proofs like driving licenses and passports may be obvious choices, the question raised is how the Government can ensure that these are not forged. This process of issuing identity cards, libertarians fear may legitimize existing fake Ids.7
Also, Libertarians emphasise that no common law country has introduced the Identity cards scheme in peacetime. Doing so, they believe is an infringement of individual rights and privacy. 8 The state, according to Libertarians is using devious means to ensure that ID cards become a necessity for