What you need to know about ID cards

Whether you back the looming ID system or not, here's what you need to know about government plans to create an identity database.

monitor immigration and prevent terrorism

The IT firms supplying the cards likely haven't much complaint, as they're earning millions from the project. Of course, two have already stepped away from the potentially lucrative contracts.

Nor will the post offices and other shops which could benefit from Smith's plans to take fingerprinting to the private sector especially if Smith's prediction that the market could be worth 200 million holds true.

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And based on all those public opinion polls, anywhere from a third to three-quarters of surveyed people are fine with the scheme.

But NO2ID - and all the other major political parties - aren't the only ones protesting the plan. Scottish parliament recently slammed the registry, on the back of a poll suggesting Scots aren't very much in favour of it.

As they're likely to be the first Britons to receive the cards, air transport unions have slammed the plans. The British Airline Pilots Association has threatened to strike over being used as "guinea pigs".

Cambridge academics have today sent a letter to newspapers, worried about the affects the card and registry will have on overseas students and researchers. Ross Anderson, Cambridge University's Professor of Security Engineering, said to the Cambridge News: "This will place yet another burden on non-EU students and spouses in Cambridge, on top of the recent huge increases in visa fees People will have to trek to Croydon to get fingerprinted and interviewed. In fact one of my own foreign students is hurrying to write up and leave the country before his current visa ends in January precisely to avoid this."

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And, as noted above, celebrities aren't exactly happy to be fingerprinted. In a letter to the Telegraph newspaper, celebs such as author Peter Pullman, musicians Neil Tennant and Brian Eno, and comedians Mark Thomas and Lucy Porter wrote: "If this scheme is continued... fewer of the world's leading performers in every field will choose to make their homes here than do now."

For more informationBetween the government's own claims, letters to the newspapers, and lobbyists like NO2ID, it's really quite hard to figure out what exactly is going on and that's with any issue, let alone something as complicated as the national registry.

All of this information has been made public, however. So if you find yourself confused and with a lot of time on your hands sift through it for yourself.

Here are a few places to start. The Identity and Passport Service has a dedicated website regarding the cards and database, while those from overseas can find out more from the Border Agency here.

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The original ID card legislation is here, while the more recent secondary legislation which is not yet passed is here (pdf). The difference between the two is that the first round of legislation made it legal to create such a card, and the second outlines the detail of when they will be rolled out, what form they will take, and how the database will work.

If you'd like to know what the Home Office and other government officials have said about the cards, click here, while NO2ID's news blog is here.

And for IT PRO's coverage of the issue, click here for our most recent timeline, and here for more stories.

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