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29 August, 2004

National ID cards again

NØ2IDI'm not going to rant about my opposition to these things (this time...), as this article in the Guardian includes a more positive proposition.

Dave Birch's central point is that national ID cards will really be national ID computers; the physical form will be less relevant than the information it stores, since the instances of it being used to confirm 'real', physical identity (e.g. a police officer visually matching a photo on a card to the face of the bearer) will be insignificant compared to the number of times it will be used electronically to confirm 'virtual' identity i.e. provide non-physical information such as account numbers.

If this is to be the case, we need to ensure that the way these virtual identities are created and used is what we, as a society, really want from the future. There is one particular thing I really do want from them: anonymity. Why should the virtual identity stored on my national ID card be limited to Dave Birch? Why can't I have a couple? Why can't my card tell the pub that I'm virtually King Arthur when I'm proving that I'm over 18? It's none of their business who I really am.
It seems to me that this could be one of the most interesting features of identity computers: their ability to reveal relevant facts about a person (this person is allowed to enter this leisure centre, for example) while simultaneously keeping the person's identity private.
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