Identity Cards, Phone Calls and You

UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair is defending for the nation’s plan to have identity (ID) cards for non-EU immigrants from year 2008. Similar ID cards will be compulsory for locals from 2010. Although not considered as a comprehensive solution to combat illegal immigration, welfare fraud, and terrorism, setting up the identity system, known as the National Identity Register, will improve protection and enable effective checks, Blair said.

This news ought to cause a few seat adjustments from the civil rights groups.

The Register may store about 49 types of information, see the link “What data will ID cards store?” below. The most accurate identification tokens that will be recorded will be fingerprints and other biometric information, which I believe will be at least the iris and facial photograph. Multiple-token recognition is statistically accurate, down to the one in hundreds of million odds.

Malaysia and Singapore have both adopted national ID cards for their citizens. The set of data that is contained in the card is similarly large. Fields such as addresses, race, religion, signature, physical attributes, and biometrics are stored; in the case of Malaysia, on a 32KB computer chip. Cards are issued for newborns, and it is an offence not to bear the ID card outside of the citizens’ homes (see links below).

The national ID card is meant for bringing products and services to the electronic form of identification for purposes of consumption or access privileges. It is supposed to combat identity forgery and enable effective security checks. At the same time, the card abolishes civil privacy and makes the citizens vulnerable to bribery, identity theft, and breaking laws that were created just for the card system.

Again in these two countries, mobile phone numbers and their interconnections are recorded in a main system that the mobile telcos have to route to. This is a regulation or law of their respective media or communications ministry, created to fight against crimes such as terrorism. Singapore is the first country to implement such a mobile phone call “brokering” system affectionately known as the mobile number portability system, Malaysia is in the pre-implementation stages. All calls that you have made using your mobile phone can be recalled from the system, including pre-paid numbers since these need to be pre-registered with your identity.

Big brother is watching you. Be a good lemming, mate, or don’t get caught! :)


BBC News – Blair defends identity card plan

BBC News – What data will ID cards store?

Wikipedia – British national identity card

Wikipedia – MyKad

The Star – NRD (National Registry Department) warns of RM20,000 fine or three years’ jail

Singapore Police Force – Information On Police Procedures

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