Sunday, March 09, 2008

ID cards: the idea that won't die

It has been over five years since I became interested in the ID card proposal and over seven since it was first introduced. During this time I have written to the Home Office (and political parties, NO2ID, Individual MPs and others) expressing my criticisms to the scheme. I've supported Spy Blog and NO2ID. I've questioned MPs over it.

Essentially I've been one of the people who, despite not having anything to hide, believes I have a lot to fear from this scheme (and the numerous others introduced in the name of security) and have made my voice heard: ID cards are a bad idea; totalitarianism is a bad idea. There are too many people who unquestioningly accept the "law" as a moral code or standard, as if it replaces ethics and virtue, respect for humanity and the right to life.

Even with the recent government data fiascoes and the function creep of their legislation and schemes, they are still demanding this extension of power.

So lets consider a few of the ways the government has tried to get the scheme through:

Benefit fraud
Identity fraud
National Security
"Everyone else has one" - in reference to the other EU nations that have cards (without the database I hasten to add)
Mandatory with passport
Optional with passport
Increasing the passport fee to reduce the costs of the cards (Passports now cost £72!, ID cards and a passport was originally going to cost £70)
Needed to get a job/benefits
Ignoring/discrediting opponents - The LSE report against ID cards was dismissed on the grounds that one of the contributors was a civil rights campaigner
"Biometric data will make it secure"
You won't need to provide biometric data initially
Everyone has to have one - Blunkett
Not everyone has to have one - Clarke onwards
Use of other legislation to circumvent need for ID cards + give the government other powers
America demands biometric passports anyway
And so on

Pretty underhand and coercive eh? The state is there to serve the people, not to control them. Indeed virtually all of the above arguments have either been entirely refuted or at the least are highly questionable.

There latest gimmick involves following the US strategy of attacking the liberties of foreigners who visit, migrate or study and getting them onto the scheme. Then it's just a small step to increasing the categories of people who must have a card. Military personnel, teachers, doctors, criminals, civil servants, the unemployed, anyone who goes to apply for a new job and needs to prove their identity and so on.

Sadly what the advocates of the scheme and the government fail to understand is that the reason I am against the scheme is because I am a patriot. I want the UK to be a beacon of success, prosperity, liberty and freedom. Identity Cards threaten these values to a far greater degree than terrorists, who we have grown very sophisticated at handling. America has proven to be so successful because the economic (e.g. private business) and civil spheres have not been intruded upon by the state.

We are in the middle of a dangerous descent towards authoritarianism. Technology should be used to improve the quality of life for humans, not merely as mechanism for coercion and control.

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At Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, Anonymous Watching Them, Watching Us said...

Thanks for your support in the struggle against the Police / Nanny / Database State.

Console yourself with the idea that your experience of thinking and writing about things like the National Identity Register and ID cards etc. now means hat you are more knowledgeable than most of the civil servants and private sector consultants working on the project. They generally only stay a couple of years with a project, before bing promoted or moved sideways, or, like Home Secretaries, end up resigning.

At Monday, 17 March, 2008, Blogger caesar said...

Thanks for your feedback wtwu. Good luck. I'll keep on supporting you and the work you are doing for democracy. :)


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