Monday, December 25, 2006

Foreigners in UK face biometric ID cards

Foreigners living in Britain face compulsory biometric ID cards: Photo and fingerprint scheme for 700,000. Visitors to be screened before flying to UK. Alan Travis, home affairs editor Wednesday December 20, 200 Guardian

Compulsory powers to fingerprint and photograph 700,000 foreigners a year who live in Britain as part of the national identity card scheme were announced yesterday by the home secretary, John Reid, as the scope of what critics see as a future Big Brother state became clearer. At the same time, 150 screening centres around the world are to be set up in 18 months so that biometric data - electronic fingerprints and photos - can be taken and stored from passengers coming to Britain from 169 countries outside Europe.

But Mr Reid had to confirm that the Home Office's original plans for one huge new "clean" database to store the details of everyone resident in Britain have had to be scaled back on the grounds of expense as the government tries to cut the estimated £5.4bn cost of introducing ID cards. The controversial national identity register, which will store everyone's biometric fingerprints and photographs as well as personal biographical details, will now be housed on three separate existing government computer systems.

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