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13 May, 2004

Call me Mr. Mouse

NØ2IDThe Guardian describes a hypothetical situation:

Two police officers arrive to arrest a man involved in a fight. He identifies himself as Mickey Mouse.

Once, Mr Mouse would have spent a night in a police cell until his identity was established. But once the compulsory phase of Home Secretary David Blunkett's biometric identity card scheme is underway, the scenario could be quite different.

If the arrested man is not carrying his ID card - there will be no legal requirement to do so - the magic of biometrics will take over.  A policeman could point a mobile scanner at the man's iris and, within seconds, the government's National Identity Register (NIR) would provide his name and address.

It seems I, and others opposed to ID cards, have possibly been missing the point: it's not having to carry the card that's the problem, but being on the database in the first place. There will be no legal requirement (initially) to carry an ID card. Any claim that that's some sort of concession or compromise is evidently bogus, as the card itself isn't needed.

The full article considers other aspects of the scheme, even if it does portray some of them as beneficial.

Bottom line: I want the state to know the absolute minimum about me, and I don't want branches of government to correlate their knowledge with that of other branches. If 'the authorities' wish to know something about me, they should have to ask, on each individual occasion, and I should be able to withhold the information.

Real bottom line: the state should exist to serve the individual, not the reverse.

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