The world just lurched much closer to a global ID card standard with news that the United States wants Britain's proposed identity cards to have the same microchip and technology as the ones used on American documents.
The aim is to "ensure compatability". But this will mean that information contained in the British cards can be accessed across the Atlantic. So what about European IDs? Will they be compatible too? Leading to a de facto Global Standard ID?
Michael Chertoff, the newly appointed US Secretary for Homeland Security, said Thursday: 'It would be very bad if we all invested huge amounts of money in biometric systems and they didn't work with each other.' He proposed that British citizens wishing to visit the US should consider entering a 'Trusted Traveller' scheme to allow 'fast- tracking' through the US immigration system. A pilot scheme is already scheduled to start within months between the US and the Netherlands, allowing Dutch visitors to use a Trusted Traveller card.
The American government has said it wants 27 countries whose citizens do not need visas to enter the US for short stays to issue new passports by 26 October this year containing a computer chip and a digital photograph.
Mr Chertoff said compatability and the checking system was intended purely to track down 'terrorists and criminals' and the main aim was to provide a 'fair and reasonable system'.