Renew Your Passports ASAP

March 18, 2008

Excerpt from part of
The Identity Cards Act 2006 may soon turn your passport into a one-way ticket to government control of your identity. That means lifelong surveillance, and untold bureaucracy. This website, produced by the NO2ID campaign, is about how getting a new passport can help you avoid being forced to register your life on the ID database.

There are two different cases:

• If you have not yet had your first ‘adult’ 10-year passport, but think you may ever need one, then apply at once. If you are between 16 and 18 now, it is the ideal time.

• If you already have a passport, whether it is expired or has some time to run, then you probably have a bit more time to renew safely.

It’s still not too late to renew.

The Identity & Passport Service (IPS) has not yet changed passport renewal procedures, but has now opened most of its network of ‘enrolment centres’.

The price of an adult passport rose in October 2007 to £72. The one week renewal service costs £97, and the one day service £114. More steep rises can be expected. The price has more than tripled since 2002 to hide some of the cost of introducing ID cards.

Getting a passport is about to become much more complicated and inconvenient…

From May 2007 onwards, a new network of 69 government ID interrogation centres has been quietly opening across the UK. From February 2008 they are all supposed to be operating. Now if you apply for your first adult passport, you may be called for a compulsory “interview” at one of them. Those under 18 are not being interviewed yet, according to the Home Office.

Formerly it took around two weeks to get a new passport. The new way – called “Authentication by Interview” – is expected to take between four and six weeks. Not only will you have to fill in a bigger form, but you could be made to travel at your own expense to your nearest interrogation centre for official questioning. The government admits the questions will be “intrusive”.

The IPS itself predicted that because of the changes as many as 1 in 4 young people might not receive their new passport in time to make their trip. One day and one week application has been abolished for first passports. In an emergency you will still have to wait to see if you are selected for interrogation.

…and make a government file on you for life.

First time passport applicants are now among the guinea-pigs for the Home Office ID scheme. Processing will eventually include fingerprinting. One day soon a passport application will ask for lots of information about you: official numbers, addresses for the last few years, maybe about your family or education… and you’ll sign to declare that it’s the truth.

That information could be used to look up everything recorded about you on all the available government and business databases: school records, social services, police, credit, perhaps family details… all currently separate and private… to build a single file of personal information on you for official use. This is what ‘ID cards’ really mean: government collecting more information about you and linking it up.

The interview will check that you can give answers about private details of your life that match the official ones. If you can, you’ll get your passport. If not… it is not clear, but trying to get a passport “under false pretences” – if the computer says “no” – could be serious. If nothing else, it means more waiting. And “suspicious” details on file for life.

Apply now and tell your friends.

Get a passport now and you avoid this processing at least until you need a new one – 10 years. Once the system is working (for the government, there’s nothing in it for you) it is a way to force “identity management” on everyone. But if you stay off the system, the system will be delayed, and it may never work.

Keep your privacy. Tell your friends. Help save everyone else’s privacy, too.

You can apply for or renew your passport online right now at the UK Passport Service website [use the link marked ‘Launch online application form in a new browser window’] or request that it posts you a paper form to fill in yourself.

Act now.

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