Saturday, April 15, 2006

ID Cards on Trial

Hmm, I'd never heard of the site before, but Silicon.Com has an excellent series of articles on ID cards, the NIR, the potential commercial uses for the scheme, what will happen in the event of serious disturbance, etc.

In addition to this, John Pilger (a journalist I only sometimes agree with) has an excellent, if hyperbolic, article on the implications of ID, the NIR and the Leg/Reg Bill in this weeks New Statesman.
The dying of freedom in Britain is not news. The pirouettes of the Prime Minister and his political twin, the Chancellor, are news, though of minimal public interest. Looking back to the 1930s, when social democracies were distracted and powerful cliques imposed their totalitarian ways by stealth and silence, the warning is clear. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill has already passed its second parliamentary reading without interest to most Labour MPs and court journalists; yet it is utterly totalitarian in scope.
Those who fail to hear these steps on the road to dictatorship should look at the government's plans for ID cards, described in its manifesto as "voluntary". They will be compulsory and worse. An ID card will be different from a driving licence or passport. It will be connected to a database called the NIR (National Identity Register), where your personal details will be stored. These will include your fingerprints, a scan of your iris, your residence status and unlimited other details about your life. If you fail to keep an appointment to be photographed and fingerprinted, you can be fined up to £2,500.

Every place that sells alcohol or cigarettes, every post office, every pharmacy and every bank will have an NIR terminal where you can be asked to "prove who you are". Each time you swipe the card, a record will be made at the NIR - so, for instance, the government will know every time you withdraw more than £99 from your bank account. Restaurants and off-licences will demand that the card be swiped so that they are indemnified from prosecution. Private business will have full access to the NIR. If you apply for a job, your card will have to be swiped. If you want a London Underground Oyster card, or a supermarket loyalty card, or a telephone line or a mobile phone or an internet account, your ID card will have to be swiped.

In other words, there will be a record of your movements, your phone calls and shopping habits, even the kind of medication you take.

Like the constitution-hijacking bill now reaching its final stages, and the criminalising of peaceful protest, ID cards are designed to control the lives of ordinary citizens (as well as enrich the new Labour-favoured companies that will build the computer systems). A small, determined and profoundly undemocratic group is killing freedom in Britain.
The facts are correct. The conclusions? I'm not sure I even disagree with them either.


Tim said...

Congratulations on the site. I have family in law enforcement, including my old man, and they have all told me that they would not trust the police to respect people's prvacy once ID cards were in use. For example, imagine you are on a protest, and the police demand to see your ID. You can't refuse, because they can accuse of giving them reason to suspect you of a crime, if they so wish. So you have to show them. Then your name goes on a list and, straight away, you will be blacklisted form public service. And believe me, people who want to work for the government have to be very careful - my dad never signs a petition, and even refrained from taking some medication he should have used, because he didn't want his bosses to know. So if you think you might ever want to have a succesful career in the civil service, better not go on any protests once they have introduced ID!

People are going to tell em that ID cards will not be compulsory and that the police won't simply be able to demand your ID, but once it's in place, it's a very short step before they start asking what people who refrain from showing their ID have to hide.

Tim said...

By the way I love the motto "Great Britain not Little England".

MatGB said...

Oh, I'm not worried about career prospects; ID cards aren't going to last long once that sort of thing happens.

It'll be a cause celebré; no one actually wants them.