Manchester ID card trial: I don’t get it

I wouldn’t apply for an ID card even if I was paid £30, so I certainly won’t be paying £30 to take part in the Manchester trial. My guess is that Manchester’s criminal and terrorist communities feel much the same way (although the former will be rubbing their hands with glee as they contemplate the opportunities for data theft).

While the arguments for ID cards are naive, this voluntary introduction in one city is bonkers.

Introducing voluntary ID cards makes much tactical sense for those who believe in them. They could quickly become a practical requirement if private sector organisations, like banks and nightclubs, started asking for them and piled bureaucracy on those without. That won’t happen if only residents of Greater Manchester are able to volunteer, because nobody will want to exclude visitors and national organisations will want to have the same procedures in all their branches.

Unless ID cards make life easier in some way, not even the politically naive will have any incentive to sign-up. Even the softest target, students and other young people who are frequently asked for proof of age, will surely find it cheaper and easier to stick with nationally recognised proof of age schemes. It’s likely that using your Manchester ID card as proof of age elsewhere won’t work because other cities’ bouncers won’t come across them often enough.

The palaver of obtaining an ID card, perhaps more than the £30, is likely to put quite a lot of people off too. Volunteers will have to supply photos, biometrics, all sorts of documentation and more. Why should anyone bother, when it’s so much easier to use your passport and a couple of utility bills, just like the rest of the country?

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