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21 December, 2004

It's not about the cards

NØ2IDThe UK Identity Cards Bill passed another stage of Parliament last night.
Still, several MPs, both from the Government (pro-cards) and from the Opposition (er, pro-cards), voted against their party instructions or abstained, so the Government isn't automatically getting its way.

There's a common fallacy about the ID cards, which was repeated in a TV news report: the cards will contain much less information, in a less accessible form, than existing loyalty cards, with which millions of people seem perfectly happy.  That may be true, but is deceptive, confusing data on the physical card itself with those stored in the national database.

The Bill doesn't even specify the parameters to be available on each card's chip, but does itemise over fifty categories (not items - each category could contain multiple parameters) of information required for the register.
These obviously include name, address, photo, National Insurance number, and similar identifying characteristics, but also factors the Government has no obvious right to know (e.g. the serial numbers of identifying documents issued by other nations) and wildly open-ended categories which could be interpreted far too loosely: "Information recorded in the Register on request" and " The number of any designated document which is held by the applicant that is a document the number of which does not fall within any of the preceding sub-paragraphs" - of course, any document could be 'designated' at a later date.
There's a full list at NO2ID.

I'd urge all visitors from the UK to read through that website - whatever you do, don't rely on the mass-media for a full account of the issues.

One other point: in April, then Education Secretary Charles Clarke, rejecting the idea that ID cards could be used to deny free education to the children of illegal immigrants, said outright that:

"This is not an entitlement card. It is an identity card."
Now he's Home Secretary, in charge of implementing the ID Cards scheme, let's see how long he holds to that assertion, which self-evidently precludes linkage between the ID card and access to state services. To quote the NO2ID FAQ again, under the terms of the current Bill:
You will not be required to use a card unless you wish to work, use the banking or health system, travel or receive benefits.
Oh, that's alright, then.


I tell you what, if the powers that be can find me a dentist in this town then I will *consider* carrying an ID without customising it with expletives... I mean how much is this all going to cost, really?
Now I'm no anarchist, immigrant, terrorist and I don't break the law (that often), so why do I feel like these cards are aimed at turning me into one.
I will refuse to carry any form of ID I urge everyone else to do the same.

Posted by Unity Flow at December 21, 2004 12:34 PM
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