The ID Card scheme is not just a harmless new bit of plastic in your wallet. It requires a massive and intrusive database that will change the nature of UK citizenship and shift the balance of power even further away from the citizen to the State. Showing your ID Card to officials - any officials, anywhere, from local government jobsworths at the town hall to security grunts at the airport or railway station, from the litter warden in the street to the nice receptionist at the doctor's - will become a normal part of British life.
With the National Identity Register and ID Card, the Government will control your identity. It will decide who you are. Although you will be responsible - on pain of fines or imprisonment - for ensuring the information is accurate, you won't be able to change it if it is wrong.
Government computer systems are a catalogue of disaster, yet this is to be the biggest and most complicated government computer scheme ever, anywhere. Hands up all those who think it's going to work perfectly?
The cost will be astronomical. At present the minimum cost is projected to equal six Millenium Domes, and that estimate has doubled since 2004. And it only counts Home Office costs, not penalties for errors or the cost of policing it. Taxpayers and businesses will be forced to pay for special scanners in doctors' surgeries, benefit offices, banks and even hotels.
Nor will the scheme achieve its alleged goals - and I use the word "alleged" because it is patent that the government knows full well the Card will be ineffective in fighting terrorism or crime, so they must want to put it in place for purposes of demographic control. Stalin may be long dead, but his spirit lives on in New Labour.
Terrorists and illegal immigrants will be able to access false ID Cards because there has never been a card or passport yet that can't be forged - why the government think theirs will be any different is one of life's deeper mysteries. Recent newspaper reports have already shown that the new biometric passports have been cloned while the ink is still wet - see also here, here, here and here. In fact having a single master document like the ID Card will actually make identity theft easier, not harder.
The former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, admitted that ID cards would not have prevented the 7 July 2005 bombings in London, saying: 'I doubt if it would have made a difference'. In Spain ID cards are compulsory, but they did not stop the Madrid bombings in March 2004.
ID cards won't prevent illegal immigration: foreign visitors will not have to have an ID card if before disappearing into the back streets of Bradford they say they're not going to stay in the UK for more than three months.
ID cards won't prevent human trafficking: ID cards are no substitute for a border police force and proper checks on people entering and leaving the country. In 1998, the Government abolished border controls, but its replacement, a computer-based e-borders scheme will not be fully installed until 2014.
And the system will inevitably go wrong. Data will be lost. The wrong details will be ascribed to the wrong people - and putting it right will be a nightmare, though not for the government, obviously. Even now about 100 innocent people a month are being condemned as criminals and banned from working with children because of mistakes by the Criminal Records Bureau. ID Cards will be scanned several times a day.
And there are more sinister dangers than simple error. Animal rights terrorists have already infiltrated the DVLA and stolen drivers' details. The DVLA sells drivers' details to private firms. What makes us think the National Identity Register will be any different?
Worse still is news of a proposed EU police force which will, no doubt, be entitled to access all the information on your ID Card and will then lose it, sell it or otherwise spray it all over Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, the Ukraine, Russia and points East.
I suppose there are still a few deluded idiots who remain capable of saying "I've done nothing wrong so I've nothing to fear". The answer is simple: if you've done nothing wrong, why should you be tagged and registered like a cow?
Although it is currently playing the issue down, the government has announced that the ID Scheme will be starting with foreign residents this year, and everyone else in 2009. In one year's time, all your personal details will be gathered together in one place, accessible to a multitude of petty officials who have a right to it, and probably to the fraudsters and activists who haven't. Welcome to the Brave New World.
The highly effective (though let's face it, not effective enough so far!) No2ID Campaign need to step up their activities at this dangerous time. They are appealing for donations and for new members. The GOS has joined, and so should you. We all need to do something before it's too late.
The GOS says: While it's some consolation to know that the Conservatives have undertaken to scrap ID Cards when they come to power, we can't rely on this. By then, it'll be too late: your details will already be in the public domain. ID Card or no ID Card, there'll be no going back to the halcyon days when your own business was your own business and your life wasn't a commodity to be bought, sold and pawed over by a bunch of lowlifes in a Prague tower-block.
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