"Various forms of coercion" could be used to accelerate the rollout of ID cards, the idea being that ID cards will remain 'voluntary' for as long as possible, while not having an ID card will become more and more uncomfortable. This, precisely what the government has intended to do all along, is stated baldly in an Identity & Passport Service leak cited by the Sunday People.
The IPS gives designation of a document under the ID Cards Act as an example of "coercion", and suggests driving licence applications as an area where this approach could be used. Effectively, this would mean that new applicants for licences would be forced to get an ID card. "There are advantages to designation of documents associated with particular target groups, e.g. young people who may be applying for their first driving licence" says the document. But "universal compulsion should not be used unless absolutely necessary."
The recent National Audit Office report into use of IT by the UK vehicle licensing agencies suggests how this might happen. The report found that 90 per cent of people applying for a provisional licence were unable to complete the transaction online, and that although 25 per cent had been forecast to apply online for a provisional licence, only 4 per cent actually did so.
One of the two obstacles was that most applicants didn't have a new format digital passport. For those who do, the procedure simply involves filling in the number of the passport, and then the picture and signature for the licence card is taken from the passport records. Otherwise the passport needs to sent off for checking, or ID checked via the post office's check and send service.
'Coercion' could therefore be applied here via the delivery of a speedier service online with the aid of a digital passport or ID card, or (heavy coercion) by abandoning the post office end of the service for 'reasons of security.' Similarly, speed of processing can and has been used to illustrate how ID cards can 'help' people working with children and vulnerable groups get their CRB check processed faster. Next stop, compulsory ID cards for teachers? But as it won't be "universal compulsion", they're still not compulsory, right? ®