"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Who Needs ID Cards?

At first glance the government's proposal for a 'paperless society'  seems good: quicker, streamlined, tree-saving and cheaper with no more trips to the local job centre, doctor's surgery or finding you've just run out of stamps.  For time-pressed people who have no trouble getting around on the internet it seems too good to be true - imagine being able to book an appointment at your doctor's surgery at two in the morning.

Reality check:

"Tens of thousands of public sector jobs will go".   Go where?  To the dole queue?  Another created public sector job?
"Jobcentres, tax offices, DVLA local centres, passport offices and housing benefit offices will be phased out."  Will the money raised go back into the public purse and be spent on projects that actually benefit British people and lift living standards?
The government's track record on IT projects is questionable to say the least;  they're way overdue and vastly more expensive than original projections.  Has one of them ever come in on time and on cost?
Restricted access: not everyone has broadband or even a computer.
Privacy issues - not only from data theft but the government itself.

Consider this:

"A unique identifier will allow citizens to apply for a place for their child at school, book a doctor’s appointment, claim benefits, get a new passport, pay council tax or register a car from their computer at home...the secure site will be expanded to allow people to interact with their children’s teachers or ask medical advice from their doctor through a government version of Facebook."

A unique identifier, your ISP logged, every movement between government departments tracked and collated.  In theory some government jobsworth in a windowless office in Whitehall could have a red alert when you sneeze.

Tim Berners-Lee, Martha Lane-Fox and the Conservatives are on board.

Like the:
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Anti-terrorism Crime & Security Act 2001
Civil Contingencies Act 2004
Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005
Coroners & Justice Act 2009
in the hands of less than benign government the effects of this proposal could be draconian and have hidden consequences.

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