ID Cards

Further results from YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph suggest that people largely agree with the arguments against ID cards, but continue to support them. Overall 52% of people support the introduction of ID cards with 37% of people opposed. This is almost identical to the proportions supporting and opposing ID cards after YouGov’s last poll on the subject, taken last Summer.

Having asked people about whether they supported ID cards or not, YouGov gave people a list of arguments for and against ID cards. The pro-arguments met with somewhat mixed support – there was strong agreement that ID cards would help prevent benefit fraud (64% agree) and “health tourism” (62% agree) and with the statement that people with nothing to hide would have nothing to fear from ID cards (60% agree). A majority (55%) of people also thought that ID cards would help the police track down bogus asylum seekers attempting to avoid deportation. People were far more sceptical about whether ID cards would help catch criminals (43% agree, 45% disagree) or help make life more convenient or easier (42% agree, 43% disagree). A clear majority (63%) rejected the suggestion that ID cards would help prevent terrorist atrocities.

On arguments against ID cards, 50% of people thought that machines to read ID cards would often break or fail to read cards accurately and 55% thought a lot of cards would envitably end up containing false information – though given that some error and mechanical breakdown in any project this size would be enevitable, both these questions depend more on respondents’ definition of “often” and “a lot” than anything else. More importantly, 80% of people think that determined criminals would always find a way of forging the cards, 75% think the cards will be far more expensive than the government says, 60% say their introduction will cause huge inconvenience, 71% think the data on people’s cards will not be secure and will be hacked into, sold on, etc and 61% think the data would be passed on to foreign governments.

All in all, people are dubious about the arguments for ID cards, and broadly receptive about the arguments against them. Despite this they continue to support ID cards, implying that people give greater weight to the perceived benefits than the perceived drawbacks – yes, they think ID cards will be expensive, inconvenient and open to abuse, but they want them.


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