So you think you want an ID card?

I feel a bit guilty about this as I’ve generally got quite a bit of time for Neil from the Brighton Regency Labour Party blog, but as its ID cards and Neil’s comments exhibit clear naivety as to what all the fuss is about then not only is a response called for but also a good fisking of comments.

So, on with the show…

The government have persuaded me, I want an ID card.

Thirty quid for a ten year card that allows you to travel around Europe, not much really, is it?

Houston, we have a problem right from the outset.

You see as Bernie Herden, head of the UK Passport Agency, admitted in July, the shelf-life of biometric identity systems – in this case passports – is gong to be rather less than 10 years, vis:

Herdan was pretty candid on forgers’ ability to circumvent new security measures, saying the agency would have to keep changing designs and would have to change its technology “more frequently than every ten years

  • Katherine

    Whilst I (mostly) understand and agree with the technical arguments you have laid out, my opposition to this idea is more one of principle. Technical arguments could, I suppose, be overcome in a perfect world (which of course this isn’t and never will be), but the principle will always be there. Which is this:

    ID cards fundamentally alter the relationship between the state and the individual. Currently, I exist and the state must prove itself to me in order to hinder or otherwise control me. With ID cards (if they ever became compulsory, I concede, but this is a very slippery slope we are on and it is clear that this government would just love to make ID cards compulsory if they thought they could get away with it) that balance changes – I must prove myself to the state. As far as I am concerned, the basic unit of our civilisation is the individual, not the state, and it should answer to me, not I to it.

    And the argument about information held by credit card companies, supermarkets, banks etc is a spurious one. Certainly they can hold much information, but only if you choose to give it to them. If I don’t have a mobile phone I don’t give them info. If I don’t have supermarket store cards, then I don’t give them info. In point of fact I do not have any store cards or loyalty cards for that very reason. My choice and if I choose to sign up, it is for an entitlement (to a phone or loyalty points) not to prove existence.

  • Unity

    I’m actually in full agreement with you on the principles at stake – the NIR does make the fundamental changes in the relationship between citizen and state – in effect the state will own your identity.

    It’s not that we’ve lost sight of the principles here, its that we can, and have, been able to fight this one the government’s ground; on matters of technical feasibility, cost, etc. We can, on this occasion, put forward the same kind of hard-nosed business case against ID cards that the government are trying to use to sell them to the public and, were it a level playing field and the government not hiding behind ‘commercial sensitivity’ its an argument we would win hands down because the government’s business case for ID cards no more stacks up that their disregard of principles.

    The argument on credit cards, etc is extremely valid because for every individual like yourself who exercises caution in the personal data they disclose to the private sector there are how many? 10? 100? 1000 more who disclose that information without ever realising where it could lead.

    Only recently is came out through DPA requests that Tesco’s have compiled a massive database of information from its loyalty cards, a database designed specifically to circumvent DPA regulations – who knows what other companies might hold and what might be possible once the NIRN gets into the wild.

  • My response to this is over at my site. Tried to post it here but kept coming up invalid for some reason.

  • Katherine raises a point between the relationship between the state and the individual. She fails to consider the relationship between Individual and Individual or State and State.

    We can ignore the relationship between State and State in this debate by arguing a Passport/visa can require any level of information to guarantee travel. Yet we also wish to have a non-passport ID card for people who won’t require a passport. (The “