Monday, September 03, 2007

Britain To Expand Police State Apparatus and ID All Subjects by 2009

The United Kingdom is now selecting companies to develop a compulsory multi-billion pound national identity card programme to complement the massive surveillance system monitoring the movements of British subjects.

The Labour government called the œ5.7 billion ID programme "another milestone" in the fight against terrorism, organised crime, and illegal immigration, while opposition parties and civil liberties groups argue the programme smacks of the police state and is another milestone in eroding the freedoms and the privacy once enjoyed by Britons.

Under this scheme Britons would be compelled to take up biometric national ID cards containing all ten fingerprints, which at some later date would also incorporate iris and face-recognition technology. Starting in 2009, all Britons applying for passports or renewing their passports would also have to apply for the ID cards. Britons have not had mandatory national ID cards since World War II, when the island kingdom was in a national crisis fighting for its survival against Nazi Germany.

"It has become increasingly clear that the methods we have traditionally relied on to prove ID are outdated, inefficient, and increasingly open to abuse," stated Home Office Minister Meg Hillier. "That has to end, and that is why we are taking the scheme forward." The government issued a notice (published in the Official Journal of the European Union) inviting firms to bid for contracts, worth between œ50 million and œ500 million, to build and run the national ID programme.

However, the Conservatives pledged Thursday to "scrap the costly white elephant" if Britons vote them back into power. "This project will do nothing to improve our security," said David Davis, the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary. "In fact independent experts like Microsoft and the LSE (London School of Economics) have pointed out that it could well make our security worse while costing the taxpayer 20 billion pounds in the process."

The Home Office's claims, that the biometric cards will add to Britain's security problems are supported by a 2006 investigation by the UK's Guardian newspaper. The Guardian proved that the new UK biometric passport - another scheme of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) - could be hacked easily by their computer expert and even more easily by those with the resources to do it - those terrorists and crime lords the system is supposed to thwart. (See here) The ID cards will use similar technology, which the EU-funded Future of Identity in the Information Society (Fidis) called "poorly conceived" and a threat to the privacy, security, and identity of EU citizens.

If Britain continues with its plan to ID all subjects biometrically and place them under surveillance, the democratic nation will have adopted major hallmarks of the police state nearly indistinguishable from communist China. The 12.4 million citizens in Shenzen City, for example, will soon have to carry new biometric ID cards containing home address, work history, background, ethnicity, religion and medical insurance. The government plans to place them under watch with a network of 20,000 cameras, in addition to 180,000 existing private security cameras in the workplace that are also monitored by the government. This programme is meant to identify criminals and social or political dissidents. About four million Britons a year are expected to get the biometric cards when they renew their passports once the scheme is off the ground.


British Tories urge 'firm immigration plan'

Controlling immigration to the UK will lead to greater community cohesion, the Tories said. Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said a "firm immigration policy" was necessary to enable local authorities to provide services for people arriving in the country. Tory leader David Cameron said that immigration into Britain had been "too high" and called for "tough and rigorous" action to control the numbers coming in.

Mr Green, speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, said recent waves of immigration had put public services under strain. He said: "Local authorities in various parts of the country have pointed out the difficulties. "For instance, in Slough, they found themselves suddenly having to find school places for large numbers of children who they didn't know were there, who couldn't speak English. That puts a huge strain on particular social services. "Inevitably many of the incoming communities do cluster together, it's a natural thing to do, and therefore if that's unplanned and unexpected then it's very difficult for the local authorities to cope. "So actually having a firm immigration policy is a way of contributing to better community cohesion in this country."

Mr Cameron used an appearance on the BBC's Newsnight to call for tighter immigration controls. He said: "I think the levels of migration we see in the early part of the decade of this Government, when the asylum numbers were very high, and the later part of the decade, when immigration settlement numbers were very high... I think we have put too great a burden on public services and I think it needs to be better controlled."

Mr Green denied the Tories' recent emphasis on classic right-wing issues such as crime, Europe and immigration was a plan to woo their traditional supporters. He said: "In no way is this a move back to a core vote strategy. When you look at what David Cameron has been talking about over the past few weeks, he has talked about health, he has talked about crime, he has talked about social breakdown. He was asked a straight question about immigration policy last night and he gave a straight answer."

Mr Green added: "What's happened over a long period is that all mainstream politicians have been very sensitive to the fact that, if you deal with issues like immigration, you have to deal with them in a moderate and sensitive tone. But I also believe very strongly that it is an issue that mainstream democratic politicians need to address because otherwise it leaves the floor clear for extremists, particularly on the far right."


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