So, just why do we need ID cards, exactly?

Most people who know me will already know that my politics have only ever leant one way – quite a way to the left. So it really does hurt to see the current purportedly left-wing government imploding on a daily basis – even more so because I originally voted for them (and shockingly, I thought Gordon Brown might actually be better as Prime Minister than Tony Blair – don’t I look like a fucking idiot now?).

The latest chapter in their ongoing clusterfuck to the next election is the continuation of the utterly pointless ID Cards scheme. This is a scheme which will involve you paying for another piece of plastic as well as your passport and (photo) driving licence, which is a front for the government to compile and link huge swathes of government data about you into one big database. Which might or might not then be accidentally left on a train.

The scheme itself has gone through at least three Home Secretaries (Blunkett started it, with John Reid and Jacqui Smith continuing the stupidity), and two Prime Ministers and not once have they actually answered the question of “How will this actually help us?”. When the idea was first floated after the terrorist attacks in New York, it seemed remarkably opportunistic. At that point it was being sold to us as “It’ll stop terrorism!”. But no-one ever actually explained how it was going to stop terrorism. Do they think terrorists will carry ID cards? If the four men who carried out the 7th July bombings in London had applied for or carried ID cards, would that have prevented the bombing? They didn’t lie to anyone about who they were. Could terrorists not carry fake ID cards with their own picture on them (you know – like spies always do in the movies)? Please, if anyone can shed light on how a plastic card can prevent terrorism, feel free to leave a comment.

Then, when we started to remember that we aren’t a paranoid nation, people started to ask what else these cards were meant to do. Surely preventing terror wasn’t all these ingenious plastic cards could do? No – they’d prevent illegal immigration too. Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. How will illegal immigration be prevented by ID cards? By their very nature, illegal immigrants are illegal – so why would they give a fuck about carrying a plastic card, or obtaining a fake one? That makes no sense. Again, if you can explain how ID cards prevent illegal immigration, add a comment.

With the logic behind the ID card scheme disappearing up the government’s own collective arsehole, it was time for the big guns. Having an ID card will make things easier for people – because they’ll only have to carry one card, and it’ll help prevent identity theft.

Right.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t tend to carry my passport with me on a trip to the shops. I don’t carry my passport unless I know I need to carry it (like, I’m flying somewhere). I do tend to carry my driving licence with me, but then again, I also carry my debit and credit cards with me everywhere, as I do my mobile phone & keys. So where exactly is this convenience factor with carrying an extra card? Unless it’s replacing my debit & credit cards, and/or my driving licence, it’s another thingI’ll have to carry around with me and that I could lose – although this one obviously has a bit more importance if I lose it.

And as for preventing identity theft, how exactly will an ID card do that? Won’t ID cards make it easier to steal people’s identity, since once you have the card, you have a huge amount of personal data that can be used to impersonate someone when buying goods & services over the phone? Comments please if you can shed some light – as per the above.

So far then, we have absolutely no coherent argument for an ID card scheme.

So let’s look at a couple of the reasons why we shouldn’t have identity cards.

Creating ID cards, issuing them to 60 million people, capturing biometric data for that same 60 million people, renewing the cards every 10 years, performing rudimentary background checks on applicants, creating and maintaining a database capable of the number of hits and attempted ID checks on it, and building a network/infrastructure capable of servicing all of the agencies that will want access to the data is going to cost us AN ABSOLUTE FUCKING FORTUNE. These costs are going to be paid for by the general public, either coming out of general taxation, or by you paying upwards of £150 for a card (note that the £150 is because while the government is claiming the ID card will only cost £60, you also need a passport first – which will set you back £102 beforehand, making the full price of a card well over £150). The benefits of the scheme will only go into one place – the pockets of IT companies like Fujitsu, EDS, Accenture, Capita – the same companies who have spunked government money up the wall on other failed IT projects like the NHS central records backbone, and will no doubt take the cash and under-deliver on this project too.

There’s also the small matter of what that card actually represents. I have a driving licence because I choose to drive a car and I’m required to prove that I once passed a test confirming my ability to drive (although you do wonder with some fuckwits on the roads – but that’s for another post some other time). If I wish to leave the country and travel abroad, I can choose to carry a passport (currently I don’t – I haven’t renewed my passport when it recently expired, due to the exhorbitant cost and the fact that my last one didn’t see a lot of action, as some of my work colleagues will testify ;-D). So what does my ID card represent? A licence to exist? Proof that I’m a British/European citizen? I already have that proof – I have a birth certificate, a driving licence and an expired passport. Do I now have to prove who I am to anyone in some kind of authority that asks me to do so? Not on your fucking nelly.

And last but, by no means least is the issue of data security. Working in the IT industry I’ve heard more than my fair share of “CDs left on trains” stories. And you don’t need to scour the BBC news website for too long to find plenty of government data loss stories, to know that national ID registration database data will end up somewhere it shouldn’t within months of the database being created. But if those previous stories don’t concern you, maybe the chilling prospect of your local Boots, Snappy Snaps or ProntoPrint counter-monkey taking your fingerprints and photos and passing them on to the government might?

So with no coherent argument for, and plenty of arguments against, the only thing it remains for me to do is debunk the most used and least thought-through argument of all.

“If you haven’t got anything to hide, why wouldn’t you want to carry an ID Card?”

Ah, yes, that old chestnut. Here’s a revelation… we’ve all got something to hide. We don’t all walk around naked. Societal norms mean that (most of us) cover at least some parts of our bodies from those around us (although those norms do tend to get tested wandering around Newport on a Friday night). So we hide something about ourselves from those around us – to protect our own modesty (or quite often to protect everyone else from seeing something that might scar them for life). It’s the same argument that was raised when thousands of CCTV cameras popped up across the country – if you’ve got nothing to hide, then you’ve got nothing to fear. That might be true – but I don’t think I ever want to meet someone who has nothing to hide – they’d be a complete and utter basket-case. If you don’t feel you’ve got anything to hide, why not put a 24/7 live streaming video camera in every (note every) room in your house so we can all watch if we feel like – just to make sure you haven’t got anything to hide. Nope, didn’t think so. Guess we’ve all got our limits.  I shouldn’t have to prove that I’m not doing something wrong – if someone else says I’m doing something wrong, they should have to prove it.

So my basic point is, I voted for this government. So I’m partially to blame for the mindless fuckwittery that is the ID cards scheme. But rest easy kids. When Dave Snooty and his mates sweep into Downing Street next year the whole thing will be canned…. unless they can find a way of making a quick buck out of all of that personal data…. Of course in the meantime, resistance is the only way forward.

To join the campaign against ID Cards and the database state, look here, or use the link on the right hand side of this page.

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~ by richiebabee on May 7, 2009.

3 Responses to “So, just why do we need ID cards, exactly?”

  1. No wonder you needed to take a day sick, that must of taken it out of you!

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  3. […] What are ID cards all about? :Link […]

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