February 13, 2006

ID cards

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4707608.stm

Sweet Jesus and Mary chain! The House of Commons has passed the ID cards bill; people applying for passports from 2008 will be issued with ID cards – expected to cost anywhere from £90 to £300.

This is the latest in a worrying trend; recent changes and additions to the law include an extention to the time "terror" suspects can be held without charge (to twenty-eight days – though if Clarke gets his bastard way it'll be ninety!) and the power for police officers to arrest anyone for the slightest offence (though they don't have to charge you for a month!).

Everyone is now a potential criminal – anyone can now be arrested and held for a month without trial or charge. Sure, these powers could stop terrorism (well, non-state endorsed terrorism at least), lower crime, etc., etc.. But with more far-reaching powers like these, that can affect anyone and everyone, brings more chance of miscarriages of justice. I belong to the subset of humanity that would rather see a guilty man walk free than an innocent man lose x days/months/years of his life for someone else's crime.

Stepping back to the more immediate problem of ID cards – they won't work. That is, they won't do the jobs that their propenents say are the main reasons for having them; namely, combatting terrorism and stopping identity theft. You don't generally need ID to plant a bomb, or hi-jack a plane (the 11/9 terrorists managed to get on board the planes with perfectly legal ID. Keeerrazy!). As for stopping identity fraud – criminal gangs will almost certainly be able to make fake IDs. Of course, this does rest on your particular definition of "identity theft"; most defnitions include credit card theft/unauthorised use thereof. ID cards will not impact on this at all – you won't need your ID card to make a purchase with a credit card. We are then left with a rather vague and threatening definition – wholesale theft of our very personae! Very likely, I'm sure.

And then, of course, we have the rather more mundane and pratical failings of this whole Machavellian scheme. Biometrics are rather shite. They will improce, of course, but there will still be an error rate. How big this error rate will be remains to be seen – it may be 1%, 0.1% or 0.01%. That is, there will be insufferable problems for some proportion of the population – anywhere from 500,000 to 5000 people.
What about implentation? Knowing this government and it's obsession with hare-brained PFI schemes (see eyes passim… Read the Private Eye), it will be privatised: Jarvis and EID will bid on it, it will go to a consortium of banks and finance companies, it will be over-budget and over-due. It will cost the taxpayers ten to hundred times more than the government say it will, and it won't work.

In summary: Drink. Feck. Girls. Er…
I mean, ID cards bad, pineapples good.

For more information on ID cards, and how you can help stop them, please visit no2ID.

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