We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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“Blunkett’s ID card argument is specious”

Those are the words of Simon Moores of Zentelligence (Research) writing in Computer Weekly.

In a review of last week’s London public meeting, Moores begins by saying:

Never had I seen a pillar of government policy look so demonstrably fragile and flawed.

He concludes:

Blunkett’s ID card argument is specious and really not worth the plastic it may be printed on.

Cross-posted from the UK ID Cards blog

Millions to March Against ID Cards

The Government is quick to latch on to polls that seem to support its position. Let’s see how they like this one:

A recent poll by independent research group yougov shows that 61% of people support ID Cards in principle, way down from the previously claimed 80%. Almost half objected to the proposals in the draft Bill to force innocent citizens to keep the Government informed of their address. Other measures in the draft Bill such as being fined for not telling the Government of a lost card were fiercely opposed.

It seems that the more the British people learn about Big Blunkett’s plans the angrier they get.

The poll found opposition to compulsory ID Cards was so strong that almost five million British citizens are prepared to join protest marches. In addition, a massive three million people would be prepared to take part in civil disobedience in order to scupper the oppressive plans.

Opposition was particular strong amongst those aged under thirty where 34% were “strongly opposed” to the plans.

Commenting on the results Simon Davies of Privacy International said: “What this survey suggests is that the government is staring down the barrel of another Poll Tax revolt, but on a larger scale.”

Full story at ePolitix.com.

Detailed poll results (pdf format) at: Privacy International

PS: If you’re in London, don’t forget the public meeting this afternoon.

Cross-posted from uk-id-cards.blogcity.com

Mistaken Identity – Public Meeting on ID Cards

A free public meeting is being held in London next week to discuss the Government’s Identity Card plans. A number of high profile figures will be speaking at this important meeting, so if you’re in London try to get along. Let’s show Big Blunkett and the media that there is massive public resistance to this scheme.

More details and registration information at:

Mistaken Identity

Blair to Rush Through ID Cards

The Independent reports that Blair is planning a short autumn session of Parliament. This is to allow a clear run to next year’s General Election.

In the limited time available, Blair has reportedly asked Ministers to prioritise two Bills: The Europe Bill and Big Blunkett’s discredited ID Card Bill.

So expect every political trick in the book to be used to get the Bill through both Houses with a minimum of reasoned debate.

It is often said that rushed legislation is bad legislation. When legislation starts out as badly as Blunkett’s ID Card scheme and is then rushed it can only get worse.

The imposition of ID Cards on innocent British citizens is a major constitutional change for which the Government has no mandate. Any vote on such a controversial issue must be a free vote.

To rush it through Parliament in this way would be an insult not just to the British public but also to democracy.

Cross-posted from The Chestnut Tree Cafe

Sky to Broadcast Pub CCTV Footage

Here’s one I almost missed:

CCTV footage sought for TV show

According to The Publican, Sky are seeking pub landlords who can provide them with “dramatic or funny” CCTV footage. Faces of those “not involved in the incident” will, of course, be blurred out.

Which implies that faces of those who are involved will be visible. Maybe acceptable if the footage shows a crime – but what if it’s just “funny”?

I don’t know about you but I reckon my friends would recognise me even with a blurry face (situation normal?).

My Mum definitely would.

Home Office Admits ID Card Costs Unknown

The Home office has admitted that it has no idea how much innocent citizens will be charged for being forced to have an Identity Card.

At Lord’s Question’s today, Home Office Minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal was asked to confirm the current estimate of £70 per person (already almost twice the figure that was being talked about a year ago). She refused to do so, saying that the Government would not be able to assess the costs until the compulsory phase begins.

So every single person in the country is effectively being told to write the Government a blank cheque.

The predicted cost has already almost doubled within a year. Given the Government record on IT projects, how much higher will it go?

Full report in the Scotsman.

Cross-posted from The Chestnut Tree Cafe

Compulsory ID Cards “By 2008”

The Independent reports that ID Cards could be compulsory within less than five years. This is much sooner than the ten year cooling off period originally agreed by Cabinet. Blunkett’s scheme apparently has Tony Blair’s personal support.

A draft Bill will be introduced next month with legislation proper in the November 2005 session (assuming Labour are still in power). The “fast track” Bill will allow compulsion to be introduced without further legislation being necessary, probably by 2008.

The Independent also reports an unnamed Minister repeating Blair’s line that “The argument has moved on from concern about civil liberties”.

It hasn’t.

The civil liberties issues with ID cards are just as strong today as they were fifty years ago. If the Government doesn’t want to talk about them then we must do so, loudly and publicly. We need to make this an election issue.

If we give up our civil liberties then the terrorists will have won.

Cross-posted from The Chestnut Tree Cafe

“One billion people to get biometrics and RFID tracking by 2015”

No, that’s not some sick April Fool joke. In fact it’s a headline from the respected silicon.com

The article reports that civil liberties groups worldwide are objecting to plans by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to incorporate biometrics and RFID chips in all passports. This would be linked to a global identity database.

The plans, to be discussed by the ICAO next week, would make biometrics and tagging compulsory by 2015.

The ICAO’s preferred biometric is facial recognition, which was recently described by the Economist Intelligence Unit as having the potential to ensure that “privacy, as it has existed in the public sphere, will in effect be wiped out”.

Cross-posted from The RFID Scanner

Blair Repeats Support for Identity Cards

Speaking at his monthly news conference, Prime Minister Tony Blair has repeated his support for David “Big” Blunkett’s plan to impose compulsory national Identity Cards on innocent British citizens.

Blair claimed that there was “no longer a civil liberties objection” to ID Cards and that the only thing holding them back was logistics.

This statement shows Blair’s lack of understanding of the concept of civil liberties. Identity Cards turn citizens into suspects and deprive people of privacy.

The civil liberties objections to ID Cards are as strong now as they were fifty years ago.

Update: In the Guardian: PM hints at imminent ID card move.

Cross-posted from The Chestnut Tree Cafe

Home Office Admits All ID Card Data to be Tracked

The Home Office has tried to assure us that David “Big” Blunkett’s plan to impose compulsory National Identity Cards on innocent British citizens is not a threat to privacy. Yesterday that argument was finally blown out of the water.

The Guardian reports that ID Card usage will be tracked centrally. Stephen Harrison, the head of the Home Office’s identity card policy unit, admitted yesterday that the Government is “minded” to log every single ID Card usage and store the data centrally.

As ID Cards become used for more and more things, this data shadow will become larger and larger. Every time you use your ID Card for any purpose this information will be recorded. All available in a central government database at the touch of a button.

Of course, Harrison assures us that the data is only being collected to guard against abuse and that there will be “safeguards” to protect it. Some of us have heard such words before and don’t find them very reassuring.

Harrison’s admission yesterday confirms that compulsory ID Cards will effectively mean the end of privacy in the UK.

Cross-posted from The Chestnut Tree Cafe

Big Blunkett to “Fast Track” ID Cards

Well, I expected Big Blunkett to try and take advantage of the Madrid atrocity to pursue his own political ends. Even I didn’t expect him to do so this quickly or this blatantly.

The Sunday Times reports that a row has erupted in cabinet after Home Secretary David Blunkett attempted to change the agreed government position on compulsory ID Cards. According to the report, Blunkett is attempting to sneak in to the draft Bill a clause that will allow a rapid move towards compulsion. This move is bitterly opposed by Jack Straw, Alistair Darling, Paul Boateng and Patricia Hewitt.

Although the draft was apparently published “earlier this month”, it seems clear that Big Blunkett is relying on public fear after Madrid to cynically push through his pet scheme.

We need to remind people at every opportunity that Spain already has a national Identity Card system – and it did nothing to stop the Madrid bombings.

Cross-posted from Big Blunkett – Watching David Blunkett

European Parliament Rejects US Demands for Passenger Information

The BBC reports that the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee has rejected the EU Commission’s agreement to automatically pass personal information about transatlantic passengers to US authorities. The committee concluded that:

“The agreement with the United States is not on a level that… gives enough protection to EU citizens”

Unfortunately, as the BBC article points out, the infamous EU democratic deficit means that “The parliament’s opinion has no legal force”.