A YouGov poll in the Telegraph suggests continuing unease over ID cards and the national database, and the potential for outright refusal to co-operate with any scheme from a minority of the public.

50% of people said they were in favour of ID cards, with 39% of people opposed. This is very similar to the last two times YouGov asked the question.

Asked how much they would be willing to pay, only 11% of people said they would be willing to pay extra, although it may well be that people misunderstood the question. The wording asked how much people would be willing to pay for a combined biometic passport and ID card, given that passports currently cost £66, and I suspect some people interpreted as how much extra they would be willing to pay.

Of the 39% opposed to ID card, 25% think they will do more harm than good and 30% think they will be too expensive, but 43% say they are opposed on principle. The poll suggests that many of those people would refuse to co-operate once cards were introduced. 21% of those opposed to cards said they would refuse to have a card even if it meant paying a small fine, 7% said they would refuse even if it meant a long fine. 15% said they would refuse even if it meant a prison sentence.

This works out at about 17% of the population who say they would refuse to co-operate with the ID card scheme. Of course, a large proportion – probably a large majority – of this will turn out to be empty bravado. It is far easier to claim in a survey that you would be willing to go to prison rather than have a card than to actually go to prison. However, if even a small proportion of that 17% of people actually do stand firm then there could be a severe problem with non-compliance and media focus on “ID card martyrs” (not having an ID card will not be an imprisonable offence, but the ultimate punishment for not paying fines for not having an ID card would be).

The survey also asked about the national database that will back up the ID card system. 43% of people thought that the information held upon it would be accurate and reliable, but 48% thought it would not. 66% said they did not trust the government to keep such data confidential and 82% thought there was some danger than civil servants working on the data would divulge it improperly to others. Taking these things into consideration, 52% said they were unhappy about a national database 52%.

The survey also asked about CCTV cameras, also regularly cited in articles about increasing state surveillance, and in contrast to ID cards and the national database found strong support for them. 37% of people said that “CCTV cameras and so forth” made them feel they were being spied upon, but when asked if they approved or disapproved of CCTV in various places, approval was overwhelming. 97% of people approved of CCTV in banks, 93% on public transport, 86% outside pubs, 85% on high streets. The lowest support was for CCTV in taxis, but even then 65% of people supported it.

On other facets of the “surveillance society”, 72% supported photographing airline passengers, 56% of people supported roadside fingerprinting of alleged suspects, 50% supported speed cameras and 45% supported fingerprinting airline passengers (39% were opposed). A majority of those expressing an opinion of people (48% of people overall) were opposed to maintaining DNA records of people who have not been charged or have been acquitted, with 37% of people supporting it. The idea of using the chips within ID cards to track people’s movement met with sharp opposition – 70% said they would disapprove with only 16% approval.

Overall people are supportive, but uneasy, about increasing state surveillance. CCTV cameras have wide support, as do security provisions on flights (presumably because of memories of past terrorist atrocities). However, there are doubts about whether the national database will be secure or accurate and public attitudes towards ID cards are ambivalent – around half of respondents still support them, but a minority seem to be staunchly opposed to the extent that they claim they will be willing to break the law rather than accept them.

Comments are closed.