The Lava Trolley: What have you got to hide?

The Lava Trolley

Or is it the lavatory???

...Either case, this little nook on blogasphere is the natural dumping ground for the sort of crap that erupts
when you find a wee Chink in the Britworks...

But hey, I promise you this is steamingly hot shit...which is probably why it's all looking a bit brown!

 

30 May 2005

What have you got to hide?

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"The horrendous economic costs of the ID card scheme are clear; the social costs will be with us for decades."
I’ve got an answer to that, and it involves two fingers.

Yet again, we bear witness to more bickering amongst the powers-that-be…and this time, it’s over the issue of Identity Cards…

Hmmm…to ID, or not to ID…that is the question…

Before we carry on, let’s just look at all the arguments against compulsory ID…

Even quicker than any of us can say ‘yay or nay’, we have human rights activists crying ‘FASCISM!!!’ up and down the country…

What is this? China? Let me know when the
BNP (and their hidden agenda) have taken over, and then I’ll start panicking…But as I look at magazines on the top shelves, the heroics of notorious Greenpeace protestors, and antics of drunken teenagers roaming the streets late at night, I can’t help but feel that premonitions of an autocratic regime are pretty far-fetched at this stage.

Quite frankly, I find the thought of that quite laughable. Surely, our government is far too incompetent to mobilise any sort of political schemes, let alone anything resembling a dictatorship. It took them long enough to ratify a bill banning fox-hunting…and it’s not looking likely that this newly proposed legislation will ever come to pass…at least not for another…oooh…millennium?

As for how much the ID card scheme will cost…Well, if we spent a little less money on constructing more housing for useless layabouts, this particular discussion would not even be taking place.
“Civil liberties groups complain the cards will
compromise fundamental individual freedoms.”

Er…such as?

Anyone would think ID cards could somehow bestow on our authorities the capacity to tap into our minds, or harness all our bedroom secrets…The biggest concern expressed by opponents of this idea is that it would create a Big Brother scenario.

Yeap yeap…Fair point…I’ll wager Big Brother has been watching us (or at least attempting to) long before George Orwell got his inspiration for 1984. Well, our national peeping-tom can permanently wire himself up to binoculars for all I care…

I don’t deny that ID Cards will allow government departments greater access to all our details, and that we will lose certain privileges pertaining to privacy. However, why should we fear them tracking our movements if we haven’t done anything we ought to be ashamed of? I doubt the average Joe Blog (that’s you and me in the eyes of the big shots) would attract enough attention to warrant any extreme surveillance.

The question that should be on our minds is – What are they going to do with the information they get from us?

Broadcast it from the rooftops? Steal our identities? Create clones? Send MI5 assassins after us for complaining about the price of petrol?

I’m sure you can come up with any number of conspiracy theories which I’ve probably never even heard of…They may even seem pretty legitimate…

You know, there’s a medical term reserved for such a condition, and it’s called Paranoia.

So maybe ID cards will turn our nation into a nanny state, but perhaps Great (er hem) Britain is in desperate need of Nursey’s loving attention. Actually, I’m very much in favour of tearing down this whole country, and re-building it from scratch, but that’s another matter…

I’m not too sure how ID cards will stop terrorism, but ask any expert on forensics or any member of the police force, and he/she will tell you that this system will be a great boon to those trying to solve crimes. At the moment, the only fingerprints and DNA that CID have on their records belong to past offenders...Not very effective, is it? Yes, it is true that burglars can simply get around this by wearing gloves, but how likely is it that they would do that 24/7? After all, stolen goods do have a habit of turning up somewhere else…eventually.

Anything that makes life more complicating for criminals will have my support.

“Rather than requiring more information from people,
he said the cards would ensure a ‘less intrusive’ way
of collecting details than the national census.”

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not dumb enough to believe Home Secretary Blunkett’s spin on this, or any politician’s for that matter…Require less information? Hmmm…I’m not convinced…

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I am fully aware that slapping a barcode on ourselves will open even more windows to tempt Big Brother’s snooping inclinations, but like with everything else, there are pros and cons…

This could work both ways...Think about how convenient it would be if all our information could be consolidated and represented by just one document. One reference number for everything…NHS, Social Security, NI Contributions, Taxes, Travel, Driving License (currently, you still need to have your old license to accompany your photocard for it to become a valid form of ID), Passport etc etc…This means no more form-filling, waiting or queuing. It cuts out a lot of red tape and needless bureaucratic paperwork…I can see how this could prevent fraud, particularly Benefit fraud.

Those who object to ID cards frequently delight in pointing out that countries who use them have not experienced all that much reduction in criminal activity…But what they do not tell you, is that ID cards are voluntary in most of those countries, or that those systems did not get the fully comprehensive biometric treatment…Let’s face it, an ID card that isn’t compulsory makes it rather pointless…Either make it mandatory or not have it at all…Why waste all that money and effort on half-arsed measures?

Here’s one country with a compulsory ID card scheme that DOES work – Singapore. That same card/number can even be used in all their public libraries and banks (for registering purposes and proof of ID). Furthermore, ID cards are not only exclusive to Singaporeans. Immigrants have to apply for them too…There’s no need for those living in the Lion City to re-register each time they switch doctors, or apply for housing etc etc… All they need to do is inform the relevant department (note that the noun here is singular) each time they move…That is all.

It also only costs them a mere S$10 each…roughly equivalent to £3.

Singapore makes the UK’s organisational structure look primitive…Perhaps the laws there do come across as a tad draconian, but it’s a little extreme to describe it as arbitrary since the majority of the Singapore population is in favour of ID cards. Whatever you might say about that country, it is clear that its form of compulsory ID does what it sets out to do. And it is the RESULTS that count.

But more important than that, streets feel a lot safer there, giving the inhabitants of Singapore peace of mind...I don't consider it terribly democratic when my home and interests are not protected, as is the case right now...It is a fact that the crime rate in Singapore is much lower than in most countries…Many are fond of pointing out that this has more to do with demography (population: 4.3 million) than ID cards. But does size make such a huge difference in this case? Puerto Rico (population: 3.8 million) is just as small, but 695 murders were committed there in 2000 as compared to Switzerland’s 69. And incidentally, Switzerland (population: 7.3 million) has an ID card scheme as well…Coincidence? I think not.

The point is, the benefits of ID cards offset the disadvantages…But there must be a way we can all meet in the middle, by ensuring only information that is necessary is collated, and high standards of security are achieved etc etc...That an ID Card system is a highly effective and potent tool is not in dispute…True, putting all our info-data eggs in one microchip basket is a risk…but no more than depositing all our money in a bank.


Having said that, ID cards in the wrong hands could be the ultimate disaster, which is why reservations about those currently in our nation’s driving seat are entirely justified. Perhaps it is high time they got their act together by doing their job…such as running our country without turning it into the mess that it is today…

…Introducing compulsory ID would be a start.


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Relevant Articles:
Government Re-Introduces ID Cards Bill
Blair Defends Identity Card Plan
Blunkett Launches ID Cards Bill

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