We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

1984 Arrived A Little Late

January 1, 2008 12:00 AM
By Ian Taylor, Chair of Dover and Folkestone Branch of NO2ID in Opinion article submitted to Kent on Sunday

man with ID card and no2id logo - the anti-identity card (id card) and national identity database campaignQuestion: Do your windows have curtains, blinds, nets? Do you draw them at night? Why? Mainly to protect your privacy - you may not "have anything to hide" but some things are simply private, nobody else's business. It is the same with all of your most personal life details: you may occasionally need to reveal some details to officials for specific purposes, but do not want to have your personal life on public display.

This is the essence of the case against the proposed national ID card and the Identity Database that will sit behind it - and potentially be linked to many others. It is not just another harmless bit of plastic in your wallet. It will change the nature of UK citizenship and fundamentally shift the balance of power away from the citizen to the state. Showing ID will become an everyday part of British life. Your life will be open to inspection by thousands of bureaucrats. ID will give ever more "reasons" to "check" people. Demands for ID for everyday activities will grow. You face being fingerprinted, eye-scanned and "tagged" like a criminal. Over 50 categories of "registrable fact" are set out in the ID Card Act, and they could be added to. Total lifelong surveillance. Any errors will be your responsibility. What happens when the scanners fail or there's a mistake?

Why? Countering terrorism, illegal immigration, benefit and identity fraud are the reasons given. ID does not establish intention. There is no link between ID card use and terrorist atrocities. People will still enter Britain using foreign documents, genuine or forged. ID cards are no more deterrent than passports and visas. False identity is a mere estimated 2.5% of benefit fraud. As for identity fraud, collection of data by government and its easy transmission between departments will create vast new opportunities for data theft putting us more at risk. If your PIN is stolen you can change it; but not your fingerprint.

Some data protection still exists. However, consultations are already ongoing to allow more data sharing, which means promises of safeguards cannot be taken seriously - and the police have been given powers to obtain most records Can governments be trusted with all this sensitive information? No! - proved beyond doubt by recent events.

Then there's cost. The original estimate of £5.8 is looking silly. We shall be charged for our cards, and changes to information; the cost of e-passports has already rocketed. The bandwagon is being pushed by high-tech companies who are making vast amounts of taxpayers' money from providing equipment and (poorly functioning) computer systems to run biometric ID systems.

Beware signing up to what we call "Trojan horses" because they are ID by default that could end up linked to that database, as will e-passports and driving licences. They are the NHS database, the Contact Point children's database and even bus passes that are really multi-purpose entitlement cards.

The NO2ID campaign seeks the repeal of the ID Cards Act and by alerting people to the threats to liberties to restrict the harm caused in the meantime. The NO2ID Pledge has just been launched as a legal way for people to declare their refusal to comply. Information is available at www.no2id.net as are contact details for local branches in Kent, in Dover/Folkestone, Canterbury and Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells.

I write this wearing an old sweatshirt that I acquired some years ago while a DJ on the legendary Radio Caroline. It bears a slogan that I consider more appropriate now than ever: "1984 Arrived A Little Late".