Britain unveils ID cards for foreign nationals 2008-09-26 05:59:46   Print

    LONDON, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Britain's Home Office unveiled on Thursday the identity cards to be issued to foreign residents in the country.

    The plastic wallet card shows the holder's photograph, name, date of birth, nationality and immigration status. A secure electronic chip holds their biometric details, including fingerprints, and a digital facial image, said a Home Office press release.

    The first cards are scheduled to be issued in November 25. Within three years all foreign nationals applying to enter or remain in Britain will be required to have a card. And by 2014, 90percent of foreign residents in Britain should have identity cards.

    The introduction of national identity cards for foreign residents will be followed by the first ID cards for British citizens from 2009, targeting workers in sensitive roles such as airports. One year after that, ID cards will be available to young people who want them, and from 2011, cards will be available to the general population.

    Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said the announcement of the cards for foreign residents shows the government is fulfilling its commitment to protect identity.

    "ID cards will help protect against identity fraud and illegal working, reduce the use of multiple identities in organized crime and terrorism, crack down on those trying to abuse positions of trust, and make it easier for people to prove they are who they say they are," she said.

    According to her, ID cards for foreign nationals will replace old-fashioned paper documents, making it easier for employers and sponsors to check entitlement to work and study, and for the UK Border Agency to verify people's identity.

    "This will provide identity protection to the many here legally who contribute to the prosperity of the UK, while helping prevent abuse," she added.

    ID cards are among the many other measures that the British government has implemented to enforce tighter security at the border. To date, 2.8 million visa applicants have been fingerprinted, whereas 12.5 million biometric e-passports have been issued.

    Government records also show that 3,500 cases of identity swap in Britain have been identified and dealt with.

    However, critics say the ID card is not only costly, but also infringes on the highly cherished individual liberty.

Editor: Yan
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