In a refreshing illustration of an administration coming into office and immediately taking steps to carry out a campaign promise, the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government in Great Britain, headed by Prime Minister David Cameron, has officially started the process of repealing the former, Labor government’s national ID card program.
The British national ID card program had been controversial from its inception several years ago, and actual implementation had started in 2008. Notwithstanding the controversial nature of the project, and despite its high cost, the Labor governments of former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown — reflecting their party’s penchant for surveillance and data-basing information – plowed ahead regardless.
During the recent parilamentary campaign, both Cameron and Nick Clegg, who heads the Liberal Democrat Party and is now the country’s deputy prime minister, vowed to begin undoing some of their predecessors’ privacy-invasive policies and programs. And so they have.
Privacy International, an international privacy watchdog organization headquartered in London, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, was a leading critic of the plan.
Here in the U.S., the federal government since 2005 has been attempting to force implementation of a national identification card under the guise of nationally-standardized drivers licenses. The federal “RealID” law, however, has foundered in the face of high costs that would be incurred by the states in meeting its mandates; and because of stiff opposition from privacy and other civil liberties groups. But, it is not yet dead.
Hopefully, the action by the new government in Great Britain will embolden and inject new life into the national identification card opposition here in the U.S.