I am not a number

Tomorrow I will have my biometrics taken by the UK passport office trial of biometrics, which is being used as the government to trial the enrollment process for National ID cards. Something I am totally against.

ID cards force us to replace the standards of trust we currently have, based on judging people on the basis of what we know about them, how we judge their behaviour and other non technical methods that we all use every day in our interactions with other people.

The government proposes to replace these standards with a plastic card with a chip mounted on it. Something we will not understand. We will all have to join queues every five years in order to obtain one of these cards. Whilst the government will not actively pursue anyone who refuses to take a card, such people will have reduced access to public services they are currently legally entitled to and pay for through taxes one way or another.

ID cards will not rescue us from terrorism. They will not prevent illegal working and tragedies like Morcambe Bay. They will not prevent illegal immigration. They will not prevent identity fraud. ID cards will not have a significant impact on any of these things.

This is not an issue of people not having anything to fear if they have nothing to hide. I don’t have anything to hide. But that doesn’t mean I have to show everything. There is a difference between secrecy and privacy, and it is the difference that we exercise when we:

  • close our curtains whilst getting undressed
  • go ex-directory
  • don’t respond to a survey

ID cards will make us all immigrants in our own country. We will have to prove our right to be here. We will be made to jump through the same hoops. The government will make us apply to be British Citizens. Imagine if they turn you down.

ID cards were got rid of fifty years ago because they were a bad idea. Now technology businesses are lobbying the government trying to sell biometric systems as a knee jerk solution to complex problems. Knee jerk politicians such as David Blunkett seem to have had the concept sold to them. But it is people like you and me that will have to live with the results. Say No2ID!

Imprisoner image courtesy of Infinite Ideas Machine.

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