Identity Cards Act 2006 United Kingdom

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The Identity Cards Act 2006 (c 15) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that has since been repealed. It created national identity cards, a personal identification document and European Union travel document, linked to a database known as the National Identity Register (NIR), which has since been destroyed.

The introduction of the scheme was much debated, and various degrees of concern about the scheme were expressed by human rights lawyers, activists, security professionals and IT experts, as well as politicians. Many of the concerns focused on the databases underlying the identity cards rather than the cards themselves. The Act specified fifty categories of information that the National Identity Register could hold on each citizen,[1] including up to 10 fingerprints, digitised facial scan and iris scan, current and past UK and overseas places of residence of all residents of the UK throughout their lives and indexes to other Government databases (including National Insurance Number[2]) – which would allow them to be connected. The legislation on this resident register also said that any further information could be added.[3]

The legislation further said that those renewing or applying for passports must be entered on to the NIR. It was expected that this would happen soon after the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), which was formerly the UK Passport Service, started interviewing passport applicants to verify their identity.[4]

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition formed after the 2010 general election announced that the ID card scheme would be scrapped.[5][6] The Identity Cards Act was repealed by the Identity Documents Act 2010 on 21 January 2011, and the cards were invalidated with no refunds to purchasers.[7] Foreign nationals from outside the European Union, however, continue to require an ID card for use as a biometric residence permit under the provisions of the UK Borders Act 2007 and the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009.[8][9]

Only workers in certain high-security professions, such as airport workers, were required to have an identity card in 2009, and this general lack of compulsory ID remains the case today. Therefore, driving licences, particularly the photocard driving licence introduced in 1998, along with passports, are now the most widely used ID documents in the United Kingdom. Given that many people do not carry their passport without advance knowledge that they are going to need it, a driving licence is often the only valid form of ID that can be presented if requested by an authority for a legitimate reason.[citation needed] In everyday situations most authorities, such as the police, do not make spot checks of identification for individuals, although they may do in instances of arrest. Some banks will accept a provisional driving licence only from young people, the upper age limit for which varies from bank to bank, while others will accept it from all ages.[10][11][12]