October 27, 2005

ID Cards

The longrider has a really nice post attaching the arguments for ID Cards
Charles Clarke poses with an inane grin brandishing an Identity Card while telling us that this is not Big Brother, it is the means of controlling Big Brother, a means of controlling and asserting our identity. What tosh! I am perfectly capable of asserting my identity should I so wish. The reality is that for much of the time, I simply don’t need to. How frequently do we need to prove who we are? Most of the people with whom we do business couldn’t care less who we are; simply that we have the wherewithal to pay them. What we have here is a self-fulfilling need. A need created by government for a problem that does not exist.
He goes on
Presuming that scenario – that technology works, the database is accurate and everybody involved is competent and incorruptible, the nature of the database and the audit trail makes profiling a doddle in a manner previously not possible. In the event of it not working as it should, profiling will still go on; it’s just that the results will be flawed. For the victim this could have devastating consequences.
Now when you consider ChoicePoint and Acxiom, two of the U.S.'s largest data brokers had databases had inaccuracies in over 65% of their entries, or the US terrorist watch list has lead to the detention of babies and even stops US Senators it seems likely that the NIR will be inaccurate, probably so inaccurate as to affect hundreds of thousands of people. So creating problems that where never there before, and would never had been there was it not for the existence of ID Cards. He concludes with some thoughts on the need for ID Cards
A few months back I read a comment written by a Swede. He claimed that their system was an excellent one and that it made access to services so much simpler, they couldn’t possibly manage without their ID cards. Of course not. If the government makes living without one all but impossible, naturally they will make life easier. They are a self-fulfilling need. In the real world, we simply do not need them.

Neil Harding is still trying to justify ID Cards, using the Identity Theft argument and this corker
But the general refutation is that the govt will obviously only support a scheme that works. The govt would be utterly stupid to foist an over budget, technically flawed system that is open to abuse, on the public just before an election in 2009. It just won't happen.
So everything that the government does works, especially in the field of IT. Then there is Identity Theft, an argument Andrew destroys in the comments
Neil: Nice try, but even if the scheme makes savings of 65mn a year by totally obliterating identity fraud (which it won't), and assuming that the government's estimate for the start-up costs of 6bn are correct (which they aren't), it would take over 900 years to recover the costs of the scheme.


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