My Life

ID Cards are such a bad move

So, the government has got over the first hurdle of getting biometric ID cards for every person in the UK. I admit it's rare for me to agree with anything that Tony et al get up to but normally I can at least see where they are coming from even if I think it's wrong. This time I struggle to see anything other than sinister motives involved which really worries me.

My main objection to ID cards is one of principle - it is my belief that the government should exist because of us, the people, not the other way around.

However, even if we set that aside the purely practical and economic aspects of the planned project are so overwhelmingly bad that I just don't understand how this is going to work.

Not a week goes by without a story in the press about some cock-up of a government IT project, we have had the Inland Revenue tax credits fiasco, the Child Support Agency, the Passport Office, Swanwick and many others too numerous to mention, cost more than estimated and not actually working properly in some cases. What makes the government think that it is capable of implementing a system which would be bigger and have more of an impact on peoples lives than anything it has tried before?

An interesting article out today addresses the argument put forward by Charles Clarke that because there will be different biometric identifies used (fingerprint, iris and facial recognition) that the reliability of the systems will be improved. In fact, rather than improving the accuracy as might be assumed, it will actually make things worse.

Assuming we have a lovely sparkly new ID card system in place which works and didn't cost a fortune, now how do we actually identify everyone who needs an ID card? The point, presumably, is to have a reliable method of identifying everyone in the country. So I'll have to go along to some government office with my birth certificate (very easy to get copies of), my passport (I can't imagine it would be difficult to get one under a false name) or my driving license (again not difficult to get one under a different name). Now I have a government endorsed ID card that says who it thinks I am, but it ain't necessarily so. As the old IT mantra goes - if you put crap in you'll get crap out.

And finally, possibly the most important point of all. What is it that ID cards are actually meant to achieve? We have had numerous different arguments from the government, firstly it was to combat terrorism but noone could actually identify how they will help there. So we moved on to catching benefit cheats and illegal immigrants, always good ground to get the Daily Mail brigade but this assumes that every government IT system is tied into the ID Cards database which Charles Clarke has had to specifically prevent to get the bill through Parliament! So what are they for?

In the end I am left with the impression that the government just wants to take a bit more control over our lives and I, for one, am not interested. Like Boris, I will refuse to carry the card when it becomes compulsory and only use it as a very expensive passport in the way I currently do.