The majority of British voters are opposed to government plans to introduce a national identity card scheme, a new poll has revealed.
In a YouGov poll carried out for the Daily Telegraph, 48 per cent of respondents said they were against ID cards, with 43 per cent in favour of the proposals.
The cards will be introduced for foreign nationals from next year, before a 2009 introduction for all British citizens applying for a new passport.
The new YouGov poll reveals the steady decline of public support for the plans – some 78 per cent of voters backed the plans when they were first mooted in 2003, and a 2005 poll – shortly after the July 7th London bombings – revealed 45 per cent favoured an identity card system.
With recent concerns over government accountability – following the loss of 25 million people’s child benefit records – public backing for a national database of personal information has plummeted.
While ministers are determined to proceed with the proposals despite the lack of popular approval, Whitehall has abandoned plans to build a new database for financial reasons, with a ‘piggy-back’ approach to be implemented using an existing system.
A Home Office spokesperson said in response that “a significant number of people still support ID cards and previous research over a number of years by the Identity and Passport Service and others has shown the majority of the public support ID cards”.
“It is natural that people will be concerned about data security in the wake of the HM Revenue and Customs [HMRC] incident,” the statement continued, “but the National Identity Register is not yet in place so we will learn from any mistakes in the HMRC incident – for example by ensuring that a failure by a single individual could not lead to data loss.
“Biometrics however will provide additional security to protect our data – the point of the scheme is to hold basic identity information more securely and in a way that allows you to verify your identity safely and conveniently.”
The spokesperson added: “By recording fingerprint biometrics it will be possible to link a person securely and reliably to his or her own unique identity. It will therefore become much more difficult for people to misuse another person’s identity even if full biographical information is already known.”