Dominique Lazanski is an experienced digital consultant and a regular writer and commentator on Internet policy and regulation from a free market perspective. She has over 10 years of experience in Silicon Valley with spells at Yahoo! and Apple and has spent the last several years in London as a consultant to the music industry and media agencies.
I have been a resident of the UK since 2005, having emigrated here from the USA – my home country. At first I was a graduate student, then -according to the Home Office - a highly-skilled migrant worker. Recently I married a UK citizen and I had to renew my visa for the fourth time in 4 years. This time, the situation is different. No longer do I have a ‘vignette’ sticker in my passport. Instead, I have been compelled to have a UK ID card which holds my biometrics and visa. I have to carry both my passport and my ID when I travel in and out of the country.
This compulsion is due to changes to the UK Borders Act of 2007 ‘updating’ the original act. In 2009 a provision was added allowing the Secretary of State to demand an immigrant’s biometrics. From the convoluted and obtuse language contained in the updated text, it appears that if the Secretary of State requests a record of biometrics from an immigrant, say me, when I am at a random location, say an airport, then I need to give it to him. How do I give him a record of my biometrics? – by handing over my ID card.
The law states (though not clearly) that:
(6) Regulations under subsection (1)(b) may, in particular, require the production or other use of a biometric immigration document that is combined with another document; and section 16 of the Identity Cards Act 2006 (c. 15) (prohibition of requirement to produce ID card) is subject to this subsection.
Roughly translated: the Government seems to think that this means it's now OK to force ID cards on immigrants. This is troubling on so many levels, but there are two points in particular here. First, since the ID card is required for all non-EU immigrants, then it is a very small step to mandate them for all citizens and residents of the UK. Secondly, and more importantly, the revision of the UK Borders Act of 2007 provides for the Secretary of State to have more power to mandate laws directly, thereby bypassing the need for legislation to be passed by Parliament. We have already seen such power introduced in the Digital Economy Bill, but we are now experiencing that power through this backhanded introduction of compulsory ID Cards. These ever-increasing powers of the Secretary of State are far more dangerous and more widespread than we could ever have imagined. Perhaps the Secretary of State will be our real ‘big brother’!
Related link: previous post from this guest author