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Saturday, September 26, 2009

No to ID card in the UK

Earlier today I was walking up North Bridge in Edinburgh when I saw a man holding a newspaper called "The Socialist Worker." In his other hand he is holding a petition, and so I am naturally curious.

To my surprise the cause is actually a good one. It was a petition against the UK Identity Cards. Putting aside the irony of a socialist desiring to put less power in the hands of the government, I happily signed the petition and accepted a pamphlet.

This is part of what the pamphlet says:

You can find out more about this anti-ID organization at no2id.net.

(I also saw a man with his head upside down in a bucket)

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on September 26, 2009 | Permalink


Thaks for noticing us. I should just correct an impression some of your readers may have got that NO2ID is connected in some way with Socialist Worker. We're not. It is just the supporter you encountered probably was. The organisation is genuinely non-partisan, and has as many conservatives and libertarians as it has socialists.

There's also a typo above: the London School of Economics' upper estimate for the cost of the scheme was £19+ billion, not £200 billion. However, that was in 2005, before the scheme was reconfigured by the bureaucrats in charge to protect it against cancellation by embedding it in other systems. (The Home Office still says about £5 billion over 10 years, but it is engaging in som pretty spectacular creative accounting to keep that figure stable.)

The principal objection to the scheme is one of principle not price, however: that the government should not control the identity of individuals, nor be enabled to keep a life-long central file of all a person's significant civil transactions - both of which are implicit aims of the scheme.

Posted by: Guy Herbert (General Secretary, NO2ID) | 2009-09-27 12:17:21 AM

Well Guy - not sure what the principle is as most of the other EU countries like France and Germany do have ID/Resident type cards and are very useful.

Other NA countries have photo ID for Driver's License and Health Care card (let alone a PASSPORT) so is this not a bit of a Red Cod?

Perhaps next you can debate adopting the Euro on principle and price or having 1 system of weights and Measures?

Posted by: The LS from Sk | 2009-09-27 10:03:29 AM

Well The LS from Sk - you might want to reread Guy Herbert's comment. The problem is not the ID cards themselves (although they are largely unnecessary) but the construction of a massive database recording every use of the card. Official snoopers will able to interrogate this database without our knowledge. Thus they will know where we have been and what we have been doing. Germany has a law that forbids keeping any records of how, when and where German ID cards are used. French ID cards are locally issued and the details are not recorded centrally. Neither country has massive penalties for failing to update card details. Nor does either country propose to construct a "citizen database" recording every aspect of our lives in one place. The UK ID card is seen by Home Office mandarins as a first step to constructing such a database.

If UK ID cards were implemented according to the Home Office wants then we will only live courtesy of their (fallible) technology. Not only is the UK ID card despicably fascist in its approach to the citizenry, it is based on technology that is inherently likely to fail, as it will use fingerprints and facial recognition, neither of which work with a database of 60m people.

Posted by: Simon Evans | 2009-09-27 11:03:34 AM

Sorry Simon,

Your comments about the French, German. Italian or Spanish "Residency" cards are simply slightly wrong. France is about 60 M also and Germany 80M.

They might be issued locally but all conform to the national standard in terms of size, data etc -and all information is available centrally.

The use in these countries is for immigration, registration (health care and tax), employment and transport via Schengen. Given the massive problems of illegal migrants - such measures should serve to not embarrass your Government anymore.

They are not yet Bar Coded nor require Fingerprints nor Facial Recognition however, given the pending USA Rules on Visas - they may all be blended into a common-passport that includes all of the above.

But given the number of Cameras and so on in the UK - this is the least of your worries.

Posted by: The LS from Sk | 2009-09-27 11:56:58 AM


For your edification;


Posted by: The LS from Sk | 2009-09-27 12:12:05 PM

In principle, the efficiency of a centralized information database changes the nature of privacy concerns.

Unless you think Google is identical to the local library, you should take this seriously. Unless you think cameras are the same as cameras which track your movement through the city, these database issues are reason for concern.

Posted by: Timothy | 2009-09-28 8:20:14 AM

The LS from Sk

Perhaps you should read the information contained at the link you sent me. I stand by what I said.

In neither France nor Germany is an ID card compulsory (although in practice almost everyone gets one as both countries tend to use them the way a driving license is used in the USA). The centrally recorded details are minimal compared to those required by UK legislation (which also allows the Home Secretary to add on any other registration information he or she thinks fit), Finally, there is no National Identity Register, recording details of every use of the card for all time. The continental systems are not comparable with the UK system - and harmonisation of the card formats and information will not make them so.
Your other comments have nothing to do with the UK ID card system. CCTV cameras are indeed a problem, as are illegal immigrants, but a domestic ID card does not address either of them.

Posted by: Simon Evans | 2009-09-29 11:15:59 AM

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