Disillusioned Discordian


Cameron & Brown Clash over ID cards
July 4, 2007, 1:24 pm
Filed under: ID Cards / Surveillance

Brown’s first PMQ perhaps unsurprisingly focused on the issue of security. In response to the media’s hype over a pathetic attempt by so-called ‘terrorists’ (They didn’t inspire too much terror in me) Brown feels the need to act tough. So when Cameron attacked Brown’s tough authoritarian credentials then he responded by citing the Tories opposition to the national ID card scheme.  really seems that the ID card debate has taken a step backwards to the old claims that they will help prevent terrorism. This is despite Dame Stella Rimington  former head of MI5 claming that they are a bogus security measure. I mean is there any empirical evidence that Brown can produce that proves that ID cards will make us safer? Do they represent value for money in terms of an investment in our security compared to say extra anti-terror police. Identity fraud is not a major component of the current terrorist threat. If you are a suicide bomber then you don’t need to conceal your identity. This is why the 7th July bombers were all carrying valid ID when they blew themselves up.

 I can’t help but feel that the only so-called benefit that the ID card system will bring to anti-terrorist measures will be the data log that the cards will create. This means that every time you interact with the state and other services e.g. financial it will be logged and linked to one of the key fields on your ID card. We will then have a total surveillance society. In this society it might be slightly easier to detect potential terrorists or suspicious behaviors. The price we will pay however is that of living in a state where nothing we do is private and everything and all our actions are constantly under scrutiny. No matter how much you invest in technology or security measures, the only real way to achieve security is to act in a manner that doesn’t cause others to want to bomb you. As well as trying to prevent Terrorism we also have to look at preventing the causes of Terrorism.  Frankly I think that our freedoms are worth more than a slight increase in national security. I think that as soon as we start to compromise our values of a free society then we undermine the ideological position against extremism in all of it’s guises.  Brown has been mentioning ‘British values’ a lot recently and how we mustn’t let the terrorist threat destroy them, but by introducing ID cards he will be doing just this. 

Personally I simply won’t have an ID card, and I’m pretty sure there are enough of us who are prepared to resist the scheme to make it unworkable. Ok they might try and fine us and lock us up, but locking up free Britons for simply ‘being ‘and refusing to carry a card that’s meant to ‘prove’ themselves and ‘validate’ them as human beings isn’t really very British is it. As soon as this starts to happen, New-Labour will have a rather large revolt on their hand.  The sooner Brown recognizes this, the better for all of us. Otherwise I might have to do something very drastic and vote for Cameron.

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2 Comments so far
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You said

I can’t help but feel that the only so-called benefit that the ID card system will bring to anti-terrorist measures will be the data log that the cards will create. This means that every time you interact with the state and other services e.g. financial it will be logged and linked to one of the key fields on your ID card. We will then have a total surveillance society. In this society it might be slightly easier to detect potential terrorists or suspicious behaviors.

Experts like Bruce Schneier think that attempting this sort of “Data Mining” of massive ID card transaction logs looking for “suspicious patterns of behaviour” won’t work at all. See:

http://www.wired.com/politics/security/commentary/securitymatters/2006/03/70357?currentPage=1

It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the government knows that ID cards have nothing at all to do with preventing terrorism, but allow the public to believe this in the hope they’ll then accept ID cards, which can be used for other purposes. I wonder what?

Comment by Andrew Watson

Hi Andrew,

Yes it is debatable whether this type of data mining would work. To give the Pro-ID lobby credit, there might possibly be an instance where being able to pull up a data log on a suspect could provide some useful information. Most likely they would already have to already be a suspect otherwise you would get so many false positives that the system wouldn’t work.

The point I was trying to make was that even if we accept that ID cards may help provide some surveillance information (something you show is highly questionable) the price we would have to pay for this increase in security is too high. ID cards are an overreaction to the current level of threat faced and I can’t help but agree with Cameron that if you are going to spend money on security then police and spooks are a better investment.

Comment by moon23




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