Wednesday, January 23, 2008

the final push

The government has retreated again over ID cards: the information was leaked today that they have put back by two years the plans for mandatory ID cards for UK citizens. This latest twist in the sorry saga of ID cards just shows what an ill-conceived idea they are.

It is, in my opinion, wrong that I should have to carry a card to identify myself in the country where I live. However, philosophical objections aside, the scheme is going to be extremely expensive, and will undoubtedly fail to fulfill its stated aim of protecting us from terrorists (as the problem with terrorists is that they have access to bombs and guns, not that they don't carry ID). Add to that the fact that they are incapable of safeguarding the data they already hold about us (the lost child benefit data being a case in point), and the system will increase the possibility of identity fraud, as criminals will be more easily able to steal someone's identity - they only have to hack into one central database instead of several.

I note that the government's proposed incremental roll-out of the cards targets the vulnerable and marginalised (such as refugees) first - this looks suspiciously to me like some sort of "divide and conquer" strategy. First they came for the refugees, and I did nothing, because I was not a refugee... You know the rest.

The campaigning pressure is paying off - but we need to do more to turn delay into cancellation.

There are two simple things you can do today to help win this battle:

1. Sign the LibDems' petition or sign up for No2ID.

2. Write to one of these newspapers expressing your opposition to I.D. cards:

Your own local newspaper

Remember to include your postal address (for verification), the title, date and URL of the article you are referring to, and a daytime contact telephone number.

Letters pages are one of the best-read sections of newspapers, so this is a very powerful way of publicising your views. The letters can be brief: simply pointing out, for example, the huge costs of ID cards, the poor record of keeping within budget on previous IT projects, and what a terrible record the government has on safeguarding personal data (the recent CD disaster, for example).

No comments: