Many of the countries where biometric national ID (NID) has been successfully implemented, especially those in Europe, have social systems and a legislative framework where carrying the NID has value for the citizen.

In the UK, after having spent £292 million, the project to produce a biometric NID was repealed, even though research proved that the initiative would ultimately lead to savings of between £0.5bn to £1.2bn per annum, and improved levels of government service. The NID project did not have the support of the people, in large part because the legislation focused on security.

The best success stories come from countries that have relatively small populations - (Sweden, Switzerland, Estonia) where government serves the people, and the police are efficient and highly regarded.

There are numerous failures, like Senegal and the UK, where the legislation did not have buy-in from the citizens. In Senegal, the biometric NID including the voter registration card was introduced in 2005. Because there was no civic buy-in, citizens did not bother to continue registration or to provide notification of changes, and so Senegal was obliged to conduct a voter registration update for the election in 2012.


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An assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill & its implications