Public rejects high-street enrolment for ID cards

Less than 30 percent of the UK public wants to enrol for ID cards at private-sector retailers, despite the home secretary’s promotion of such locations.

Only 25 percent of more than 2,000 people questioned for the government’s Central Office of Information would consider having their fingerprints, photo and signature recorded for an ID card in a supermarket, according to research commissioned by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS). This increased to just 26 percent for a petrol station, 28 percent for a department store and 29 percent for a local shop.

People responded more positively towards post offices, which would be considered by 53 percent, local authorities (63 percent) and banks (66 percent). But the preferred locations for ID-card enrolment were passport offices and police stations, with results of 84 percent and 85 percent respectively.

Despite the findings, however, two weeks ago home secretary Jacqui Smith indicated her intention to press ahead with high-street enrolment. “Enrolment should be able to happen at the convenience of the customer, on the high street, at the nearest post office, or at the local shopping centre,” she said.

Philippe Martin, senior analyst at Kable, said: “It is surprising that the home secretary has decided to go ahead with enrolling people in high-street shops and shopping centres, when this Home Office-commissioned survey shows that the overwhelming majority of people would rather not provide biometric information in this environment.”

“It appears that they have more confidence in government buildings, and are not deterred by their possibly less convenient location,” Martin said.

Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesperson Tom Brake told GC News: “Signing up for an ID card isn’t like buying a lottery ticket. It’s clear ministers are desperate to find any means to get people to sign up for an ID card. This is just their latest half-baked attempt.”

A spokesperson for the IPS said the security of data was of the utmost priority and that the IPS would never introduce an approach which would jeopardise the integrity of a person’s biometric data.

“Any third party involved in enrolment would be accredited and audited to ensure they meet and continue to meet robust and strictly administered security standards,” the spokesperson added.

“System-design standards will ensure that no data is stored locally and that all data is transmitted directly to IPS using a secure communications link. In addition, all locations and personnel will be subject to strict security standards set by IPS,” the spokesperson added.