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Entitlement card

This one falls into the class of political euphemisms. The British Home Office (the government department responsible for the police, judicial system, and related matters) has proposed that all British citizens be issued with identity cards. The aims include reducing the levels of identity fraud (especially using stolen credit cards) and to reassure people who are concerned about illegal immigrants gaining access to employment and services. It is suggested that the cards — which would be smart cards containing an embedded chip — might contain biometric data such as fingerprints or iris records as well as information about the holder. To help sugar the pill, the Home Office decided not to call them identity cards, a concept and a term that has been consistently and successfully opposed by libertarians in Britain. Since the cards would prove the holder was entitled to medical and other services, the consultation document that put the idea out for discussion earlier this month called them entitlement cards instead.

The Home Office believes that by building the entitlement cards into newly issued driving licences or passports it can make the scheme self-funding. Of the 51 million UK residents who would require entitlement cards, some 38 million already hold driving licences and 44 million have British passports.

Independent, July 2002

An entitlement card would make it far harder for firms to claim they did not know someone had no right to work in the UK. And it would help tackle one of the major “pull” factors for people traffickers who claim it is easy to work illegally in the UK.

Birmingham Post, July 2002

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Page created 20 Jul 2002