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ID policies

Without proper safeguards against abuse, ID policies can facilitate social exclusion and serious grave human rights abuses.

Since 1990, PI has been fighting against intrusive and disproportionate ID policies across the world; we've run campaigns and policy-interventions in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Western Europe and South-East Asia, and at international institutions. Throughout history, ID systems have been central to dozens of grave human rights abuses, and with the advent of biometrics, smart cards and real-time connections to national registers, they are now dramatically more invasive. Without legal, regulatory and technological safeguards against abuse, modern ID policies can increase social exclusion, identify political and religious dissidents and other suspect populations, and restrict rights like freedom of movement and freedom of expression. We have led research initiatives at leading academic institutions, including the London School of Economics, engaged with technology experts, worked with policy-makers and Parliaments to inform the policy debate, communicated the risks of specific policies and technologies to broad audiences, and both founded and run several anti-ID campaigns.

ID policies

Blog
Shannon Kisch's picture

Since mid-2012 the Hebrew University International Human Rights Clinic has been collaborating with Privacy International to produce research about the state of privacy laws and protections in Israel and worldwide.

Last week marked the launch of a long-anticipated pilot of a controversial Israeli biometric database, a project that has been the target of civil society protest and the subject of a challenge in the Israeli Supreme Court.

While there is no shortage of institutions maintaining databases containing personal information of large sections of Israeli society – Israel’s Defense Force, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and the Election Authorities, to name just a few – this latest effort raises particular concerns about privacy and the protections of civil liberties.

Event
Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 13:30 to 17:00
Location: 
The Old Theatre, London School of Economics Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

The government has introduced draft legislation for a national identity card. The card system will cost at least £3 billion and is likely to become an essential part of life for everyone residing in the UK.

If the draft legislation is accepted by Parliament, everyone will be required to register for a card. Biometric scans of the face, fingers and eye will be taken. Personal details will be stored in a central database. A unique number will be issued that will become the basis for the matching of computer systems.

RSVP necessary?: 
Yes
Event
Wednesday, December 11, 2002 - 14:15 to 17:30
Location: 
The Old Theatre, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

In July, the Government announced a six-month public consultation on proposals to create a compulsory national Identity Card to establish entitlement to benefits and services, including healthcare, welfare benefits, education and public housing. The consultation period ends in January. This event at the LSE will be the only public meeting during the consultation exercise.

RSVP necessary?: 
Yes
Press release

The London-based human rights organisation Privacy International today urged Japanese citizens to boycott their new national identity numbering system. The organisation has called on the Japanese government to acknowledge the dangers created by the system, and to immediately dismantle the project.

Privacy International has warned that the scheme will lead to the most dangerous and comprehensive violation of privacy in recent Japanese history. In the two weeks that it has been operating, dozens of municipalities have experienced computer failures and leakages of personal information. 

Simon Davies, Director of Privacy International, warned:

This situation will become more horrendous with each passing day. The technology and the administrative systems for the system cannot cope with the vast amount of information generated. Countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia have rejected similar proposals because of the risk to personal privacy and individual rights. Japan would be well advised to abandon this dangerous and discredited idea."

Blog
Privacy International's picture

On July 3rd 2002, the UK Government published a consultation paper on a national identity card. Privacy International has investigated such proposals across the world for more than a decade. Here, we answer all the questions the government has failed to answer.

Blog
Dr Gus Hosein's picture

In 1994, in an attempt to discover the problems caused by ID cards, Privacy International compiled a survey containing reports from correspondents in forty countries. Amongst the gravest of problems reported to Privacy International was the over zealous use or misuse of ID cards by police - even where the cards were supposed to be voluntary. One respondent wrote:

On one occasion I was stopped in Switzerland when walking at night near Lake Geneva. I was living in Switzerland at the time and had a Swiss foreigner's ID card. The police were wondering why I should want to walk at night to look at the Chateau de Chillon. Really suspicious I suppose, to walk at night on the banks of the lake to look at an illuminated chateau (I am white and dress conservatively). I had to wait for 20 minutes whilst they radioed my ID number to their central computer to check on its validity."

Correspondents in most countries reported that police had powers to demand the ID card. A correspondent in Greece reported:

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