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Think tank urges UK to launch eID card scheme to prevent or mitigate Brexit harms


With the prospects of a People’s Vote and Hard Brexit looming, the UK urgently requires an advanced electronic ID card scheme like those used in several European countries in order to take back control of immigration and free movement, according to a lengthy report by independent think tank Global Future, forwarded by labour member of parliament Andrew Adonis.

The report, “Movement control: a blueprint for free movement that works for Britain,” discusses setting up a fund to invest the dividends of migrant labor in communities most affected by migration, and labor law changes to reduce illegal employment paying less than the minimum wage, as part of a strategy to use methods already in place elsewhere in Europe to control immigration.

The UK is the only country currently in the EU without a national ID system, according to the report, and recommends an overhaul, possibly including a biometric e-residence permit system similar to those used in countries such as Portugal and Denmark. It recommends a population register with minimal information, including no biometrics, partly in response to the privacy concerns raised by the failed National Identity Register. That program, passed into law in 2006, mandated the collection of information in 50 categories, including fingerprints, and was plagued by a range of major problems.

The National Identity Register was quashed by a government change in 2011, but is just one of several instances in which the UK has failed to keep pace with other European nations in controlling immigration, according to the report.

The UK government has been leveraging biometrics to establish the identities and rights of visitors and non-citizen residents, but has faced challenges such as a recent spat with Apple over the limitations on iPhone NFC readers which prevent them from reading passport chips.

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