Sunday, March 6, 2011

209 - Keeping tabs around the world

Keeping tabs around the world

• Compulsory national identity cards are used in about 100 countries including Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain

• ID cards are not used in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Irish Republic or Nordic countries

• German police can detain people who are not carrying their ID card for up to 24 hours

• The Bush Administration resisted calls for an identity card in the US after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001

• In Australia street protests in the 1980s forced the Government to abandon its plans for a card

• Plastic cards are favoured over paper documents because they are harder to forge

• Most identity cards contain the name, sex, date of birth and a unique number for the holder

• South Korean, Brazilian, Italian and Malaysian ID cards contain fingerprints. Cards in some countries contain information on any distinguishing marks of the holder

• Objections to card schemes have focused on the cost and invasion of privacy

• Supporters say that they prevent illegal immigration and fraud

• In the European Union some cards can be used instead of a passport for European travel

Sources: Privacy International; Times database