Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Hmmm – Phil says he can’t get excited about ID cards and flatmate 2 is all for them (tho fm 1 against). As Phil is an avowed member of the ‘Tony should seek psychiatric help before he kills any more people’ club it leads me to think that perhaps I’ve been a bit vociferous in my opposition. OK I still don’t want one, in fact I won’t have one and the expense is incredible but I guess some aspects would make it more reasonable than others:-

1) There is no requirement to carry the card with you.

a. Courtesy of recent home secretaries there are now a very large number of debatable reasons for nicking people. As the law currently stands if the police want to do you they’ll generally be able to find some reason for dragging you in, even if they can’t hold you. If it was an offence to not have your card this would pretty much give them carte blanche to haul people in as and when they liked.

b. “So what?” I hear you say, until I remind you that there is no right to silence in the UK, courtesy of ‘something of the night’ Michael Howard. Obviously they can’t make you talk but if you don’t answer their questions straight away the police can interpret this as a sign of guilt in court. And all this before you have any right to see a lawyer. Amazing huh. Plus of course the questions don’t have to apply to whatever you were originally arrested for.

Is anyone getting my drift here?

2) A sufficient level of technology is used to make counterfeiting impossible. Two aspects to this :-

a. Identity theft.

Where someone assumes another persons identity, then applies for and receives a legitimate card with the relevant photo, fingerprints, iris etc. I can’t see any really robust answer to this. I suppose cards should be sent registered through the post to addresses that match against the electoral roll.

Unfortunately the people for whom this will work are not really the people that DB wants to catch out. These people are often unregistered to vote and move house frequently and on an ad hoc basis. Let’s face it – the ID card is aimed at the underclass, consisting as it does almost entirely of dole cheats, illegal immigrants, dope dealers and petty thieves (© David Blunkett – My Life) and the very fact that they are the underclass makes ensuring everyone gets a card with their real name and identity on it pretty tricky.

Plus getting on the electoral roll requires the following :

i) An address.
ii) A form from the Post Office
iii) Filling the form in with your name and address.
iv) Ticking the box marked ‘All of the above is absolutely true, I am totally allowed to vote and am not lying, honest.’

b. Fake cards with fake names

A sufficiently robust technology will make this pretty tricky – inbuilt photos, iris scans & fingerprints + smart chips but it’ll never be perfect. I guess plod will have to continue to look for forgers. The best we can hope for is that the expense of obtaining a fake card outweigh the benefits of having it – at least in the short term. This may deter benefit cheats but won’t have any bearing on serious criminals evading identification.

3) I can’t see any kind of robustness without a centralised database of somekind – and where will that lead us – who knows????

Actually reading all of my posts on this subject I’m beginning to sound like some sort of fringe issue libertarian loony so this will be my absolute final word on the subject – at least until we know fir sure whether they’re going to press ahead with it or not. Phew!

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