Survey gives thumbs-up to ID cards

UK citizens support ID cards, according to a report commissioned by the world's biggest smart card maker. Privacy activists are not convinced four out of five UK citizens are in favour of the introduction of entitlement cards, including the use of biometrics, according to a survey published on Thursday. The research, which was conducted on behalf of technology company SchlumbergerSema -- which supports the introduction of entitlement cards --, saw 1,000 people interviewed by telephone between 17 and 19 January, 2003.

Of this sample, 60 percent said they strongly supported the introduction of the card, with a further 20 percent saying they supported it. Fifty percent of the sample also said they favoured the use of iris recognition as a biometric check, with 30 percent preferring the use of fingerprints. SchlumbergerSema itself supports the use of iris photography as a biometric test, but some observers have claimed that such technology is neither cheap enough nor reliable enough at this stage. Reasons cited for supporting entitlement cards included "were to address fraud", "to enhance control of illegal immigration", and -- in SchlumbergerSema's words -- "a general view that making it easier to identify individuals was a good thing."

According to SchlumbergerSema, the degree of acceptance towards entitlement cards showed little variation by social class, by age group or by extent of Internet usage, which the firm claimed "suggests a broad consensus spanning the so-called 'digital divide'." The government launched a consultation into the issue of entitlement cards back in July 2002, and it is due to close on Friday. Supporters of entitlement cards claim they will reduce illegal immigration and identity fraud, and make it easier for citizens to access government services.

News source: ZDNet |UK|

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