25 October 2005

How ID cards and a national register work in Sweden.

This is from open-democracy, and it makes a far more detailed case for ID cards and a national register, than I have so far. It looks at how it works so well in Sweden and how Swedish people see the National Register and ID card as a right not an intrusion. For example, benefits are automatically sent to those entitled whether they have claimed them or not. Everyone is compulsorily registered at birth or when they enter the country. They all have a personal register number and the administration savings are significant. I implore all of you to read this article to see how ID cards can be of benefit. Even Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, acknowledges that her European partners who campaign on liberty issues, do not wish to see ID cards removed. Those campaigning on liberty issues in Europe who have ID cards, ask her why she is so against them. This says it all really.


  1. Thanks Neil - I did read the article. I note the Sewdish system relies on a number rather than biometrics. Sadly there were no figures about how much of a problem identity theft is in Sweden. I find your attack on Shami Chakrabarti a little strange. Many other European countries have ID cards but that's like saying they have, say, toilets. Their schemes are not comparable to this Government's plans.

  2. If Neil is so keen on the current ID card (and let us not forget the massively intrusive database behind it) then why doesn't he explain why instead of extolling the virtues of a scheme in a completely different country? Swedes may see there ID card as a right but I certainly see the proposals as an intrusion and nothing else.

    The governments current proposals require the collation of more data on citizens than in any other western democracy, with pathetically weak safeguards preventing its abuse. Even the Microsofts security chief has raised doubts about the security of the data collated.

    The Swedish system also does not require the entire population to be fingerprinted like criminals, and does not rely on the use of sinister and flakey biometrics.

    In short the currently proposed ID scheme has very little merit, changes the relationship between citizen and state for the worse, will not achieve the stated aims and will run massively over the stated budget. It should be dropped at the earliest oppurtunity.

  3. To be honest, I really like Shami Chakrabarti, on a lot of issues we agree, but I think even she recognises her argument against ID cards (in principle) is very weak. Her European counterparts campaigning on liberty issues see no problem with ID cards and they ask her why she opposes them. In the article I linked to, she is reduced to an unsure argument about how it is for the govt to make an overwhelming case. I think the case is there to be shown.

    I share your concerns about some aspects of the govt's proposals, but if you look at the history of these things, by the time it happens (if indeed it ever does) a lot of these concerns will have been taken into account. Like I say the govt has to make it work and work well, it is cutting its own neck by introducing a flawed system. It will realise that concessions will have to be made.

  4. she is reduced to an unsure argument about how it is for the govt to make an overwhelming case.

    She's right though. The government do need to justify this scheme. They've singularly failed to do this prefering to dissemble, spin and mislead instead.

    it is cutting its own neck by introducing a flawed system. It will realise that concessions will have to be made.

    I agree with the first part of this. The second isn't so clear to me. There have been many many oppurtunities for them to improve this abysmal legislation and they've singularly failed to do this.

    On a related subject why is that disgraceful excuse for an mp Blunkett buying shares in DNA screening companies?

  5. Have you a link for the blunkett story, sounds interesting?

  6. link to blunett story ( I wasn't the poster who mentioned this origninally)


  7. Cheers, I've seen it on the news now. I'm not sure about this. Accuse me of being naive if you like, but I tend to believe this might actually have been 'an honest mistake' as Blunkett claims.

    Who knows, maybe I'm wrong. He certainly is very accident prone. I wouldn't be particularly bothered if he does resign.