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THE QUESTION - Identity cards

THE QUESTION: The recent terrorist act on New York has prompted renewed debate over identity cards. Are they a good idea or a breach of civil liberties?

How can anyone say an ID card is a breach of civil liberties and human rights? The majority of us have passports, driving licences, credit and store cards all containing personal details. Half have mobile phones which can pinpoint your location at any time (ring the traffic lines! ).

People who are against them obviously have something to hide. Even so, issuing cards will not prevent acts of terrorism as they are usually committed by people from outside the country so would have no obligation to carry ID cards.

Dave Garratt, 32, project engineer, London

Freedom within a democratic society has always involved a restriction on civil liberties. After all, 'no man is an island'. Many other European countries have similar systems and if it helps the police to prevent terrorism then they should be introduced. It could also help in many other battles against crime.

Nigel Horwell, 40, group engineer, Truro

ID cards will never have the desired effect. Any selfrespecting criminal will spend £20 and get a forged one. I can't see the government spending even £5 a card making them forgery proof.

Kenneth Brown, 29, structural engineer, Edinburgh

I can't help feeling that it is only people with something to hide who object to the idea of compulsory identity cards. They are not a new idea anyway - my mum tells me that during the second world war everyone had compulsory ID cards. As it is we have bank cards, store cards, passports, driving licences (even ICE membership cards! ), all with a certain amount of data about us on them. I can't see that ID cards are so very different. I feel my civil liberties are much more at threat from the levels of crime in the country, making me feel unsafe travelling at night, particularly on public transport.

Sandra Rolfe, 33, principal pipelines engineer, High Wycombe

I fail to see what infringement of my civil liberties would be caused by being forced to carry an ID card. It could be linked to a central database containing information relating to possible conflicts with the law together with potentially beneficial data such as blood type and medical history. I'm sure there are many ways to mount a legal challenge against being forced to carry an ID card but perhaps EC anti-terrorist rulings could be used to prevent this. It is a cliche but victims of crime (who outnumber criminals) have human rights too and ID cards would make a difference. However, it would be a brave, non-populist government to implement this and I don't see any of those in power at present.

Bring them in, it would help me remember who I am after a hard night on the beer.

Bruce Walton, 29, assistant project manager, Manchester

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