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Universal right to be overseen by the state

Guy Herbert brought my attention to a question in a survey being run by the Biometrics Institute, “a global, independent membership organisation for biometrics users, researchers, and suppliers”.

The question begins with, “below are a number of views that have been expressed at various Biometrics Institute meetings” and respondents are asked to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with a variety of statements, including:

The allocation of a formal, biometrically-based identity by the State should be a universal human right for every child

I think that is what they call a “positive right”.

This sort of backwards thinking is quite common. The Guardian reports on the bureaucratic horror show in India that makes it hard for poor people to do certain things (like book train tickets). Rather than tackle the bureaucracy, UNICEF talks about “what remains to be done” to “achieve universal registration”.

The right to have all your interactions with others overseen by the state is not much to celebrate.

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17 comments to Universal right to be overseen by the state

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The right to have all your interactions with others overseen by the state is not much to celebrate.

    That would be absolutely terrifying.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    This feels much like saying “all children have a universal human right to be infected with Plasmodium falciparum” or “all children have a universal human right to be truncheoned by the police”.

  • The Pedant-General

    Organisation that stands to benefit from universal adoption of biometrics promotes universal adoption of biometrics. Who knew?

  • Mal Reynolds

    How can they not notice how dystopian totalitarian that sounds? Could be a key plot point in 100 sci-fi near-future flicks.

  • Watchman

    If the biometrics institute is a global organisation, who is “the state” in this context? I assume whoever expressed this view (I’m being fair to the Institute and noting this is a view expressed at one of their meetings) may have missed the global part, or made the normal statist assumption that all states are like their own (it’s wierd how internationalists often miss the minor fact of huge differences between different countries).

    And a formal biometric identity. Pretty certain I have this – it’s my DNA, physical appearance etc. I am not sure the state can allocate this yet…

  • Paul Marks

    Perhaps we should have a visible number from this “registration” – to confirm our collective “identity”.

    Say the number “666” upon our bodies.

  • Watchman writes: “And a formal biometric identity. Pretty certain I have this – it’s my DNA, physical appearance etc.”

    This need clarification. DNA is shared by identical twins. But identical twins have differences, particularly in their fingerprints, iris patterns, etc. So, in one view, DNA alone is insufficient – but DNA plus some particularly good aspects of physical appearance might be sufficient.

    Best regards

  • Laird

    Something like this should work just fine.

  • If people want it, they’ll pay for it. If the Biometrics Institute, Barclay’s Bank and a dozen other biometrics companies with amusing names like Sheila’s ID and BIO4U.com were competing to provide secure ID in India and elsewhere then it would swiftly become cheap enough for everyone who wanted one to have one.
    But of course, that’s not what the unnamed individual at the BI wants, they want a government mandated monopoly.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    The use of “people have a right to X” to mean “people have no right to refuse X” is of long standing in the world of education.

    A couple of years ago I made a post called “What do the Maori and Welsh languages have in common?”, in which I said,

    “Allowed access to Maori,” is another variant of “entitled to learn Maori” or “have the right to learn Maori”. As used here all of them actually mean “will be forced to learn Maori”. It just sounds prettier if a pose is maintained that someone – probably an Englishman in imperialist headgear – is trying to stop eager pupils from learning Maori or Welsh, and the “right” or “entitlement” or “demand for access” is being asserted against such oppression.

    Perhaps these biometrics experts, like the teachers and educational administrators mentioned in my post, have let the fact that they are surrounded by comparatively ignorant people go to their heads. As Orwell said, “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” Intellectuals of a certain bent are clever enough to twist words to mean their opposites and stupid enough to be fooled by their own cleverness.

  • NickM

    All your bases are belong to us!

  • Laird

    “Intellectuals of a certain bent are clever enough to twist words to mean their opposites and stupid enough to be fooled by their own cleverness.” A great line!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Second Laird!

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Intellectuals of a certain bent are clever enough to twist words to mean their opposites and stupid enough to be fooled by their own cleverness.

    QOTD!

  • auralay

    It will come.
    Bio-metric and DNA analysis from every baby.
    It will come.
    The whole population micro-chipped like pet dogs.
    It will come.
    Chips coupled to GPS tracking. Your location recorded for every second of every day.
    It will come.
    Chips coupled to your sensory inputs. What you hear and what you see recorded for every second of every day.
    And all for your own safety.
    There will be no place to hide.
    It will come.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Paul, some early versions of the BoR have the number 616. So one hand could have the number 616, and the other 666, or your forehead could.
    In those days, some alphabets didn’t have separate symbols for numbers, but used the letters. A=1, B=2, etc. So 616 or 666 could really stand for a name put on your body somewhere.

  • DP

    Dear Mr Fisher

    When government defines who you are, you are livestock.

    The more strongly your identity is defined by government the more completely it can be stolen. If you are defined for state purposes by your DNA and fingerprints on a government database, anyone with access can switch your identity with another.

    The ‘other’ person may then be found conveniently dead.

    @ auralay May 14, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Don’t forget the ricin capsule on that chip.

    DP