the Disillusioned kid: Mistaken Identity
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Mistaken Identity

Legislation to establish an ID card system throughout the UK passed its second reading in the House of Commons last night. There are a whole load of reasons why this is a bad thing and consequently the idea has attracted opposition from across the political spectrum. Unfortunately I don't have the time to examine all or even most of these reasons here. Instead I'll point you in the direction of NO2ID, a recently established coalition campaigning around the issue, whose supporters range from Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party to the Bournemouth West branch of UKIP via the Libertarian Alliance. Check out their website for information on ID cards and information on the campaign.

One of the recurring mantras among supporters of the scheme has been the threat from terrorism, which we are to take it ID cards will go some way towards reducing. Both NO2ID and Justice Not Vengeance offer useful analysis of this argument concluding that it doesn't really stand up. Privacy International produced a report in April of this year, examining this issue. This presented one of the first serious attempts to research the relationship between terrorism and ID cards and drew a similar conclusions. The report examined data from the US State Department and the Israel-based International Policy Institute for Counter-terrorism revealing the 25 countries which have suffered most heavily from terrorism since 1986 (using, of course, the official definition of terrorism which excludes the examples perpetrated by western powers such as the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan). On the basis of this information, they noted,
Eighty per cent of these countries have long-standing identity card systems, a third of which contain a biometric such as a fingerprint. While it is impossible to claim that terrorist incidents have been thwarted as a result of an ID card, the above data establishes that the cards are unable to eliminate terrorist incidents.
For more concrete evidence, consider Spain which requires all those over 14 to carry ID cards, a rule which did nothing to stop the bombings in Madrid.

NO2ID National Coordinator, Phil Booth suggests on their front page that the backlash against ID cards "could far exceed the impact of Stop the War and the Countryside Alliance and could turn into Labour?s Poll tax." I hope he's right, but the muted response thus far leaves me far from sure. One thing does seem certain though. Once we've got ID cards it's going to be very, very hard, if not impossible to go back. If we want to stop them and everything they entail we need to do so ASAP.

NO2ID - Stop ID cards and the database state

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