27 March 2007

Paranoid Luddites at NO2ID etc, etc.

It is fair to say I came in for a little criticism (here, here, here and here) for writing this post and in particular these comments.

The substance of the criticism seems to be the following;

That owning a mobile phone does not mean you give consent to being tracked (it does, because you know the mobile phone company can locate you).

That I made an untrue claim against NO2ID by suggesting they were hypocrites for owning mobile phones (as they surely must) and then campaigning against ID cards (NO2ID highlight the audit trail of ID cards as an invasion of privacy but say nothing about mobile phones - so my claim is true).

Dan Goodman makes this intelligent comment about Anarchism, asymmetry and privacy. This is the crucial point - it is not lack of privacy that necessarily causes harm but the lack of a reciprocal relationship in 'knowing someone else's business'.

The rest is mostly insults accusing me of being dim, lazy, a fascist etc. etc.

76 comments:

  1. That owning a mobile phone does not mean you give consent to being tracked (it does, because you know the mobile phone company can locate you).
    No it doesn't. The phone company only knows where you are if you switch the phone on. According to the tracking sites, it's illegal to release any data on where you are (or have been) to anyone else without your consent. Police can ask for it in investigation of serious crimes of course. But the fact remains, you can turn your phone off if you wish.

    That I made an untrue claim against NO2ID by suggesting they were hypocrites for owning mobile phones (as they surely must) and then campaigning against ID cards (NO2ID highlight the audit trail of ID cards as an invasion of privacy but say nothing about mobile phones - so my claim is true).

    No. You can't even get your own claims right. You said NO2ID were hypocrites for opposing the tracking devices needed for road pricing - go and read your post if you don't believe me. Now you're trying to shift the argument to ID cards - inconsistent and circuitous. You seem to have realised that NO2ID is about ID cards and tried to re-write the history of your own post accordingly.

    Dan Goodman makes this intelligent comment about Anarchism, asymmetry and privacy. This is the crucial point - it is not lack of privacy that necessarily causes harm but the lack of a reciprocal relationship in 'knowing someone else's business'.

    I'm glad we're finally getting to the root of this - we have a simple disagreement here. As long as I'm not breaking any laws I don't think what I do or where I do it is any of your, or the State's business - you obviously do. However, on a practical level, our government is so secretive so much of the time that it plainly couldn't work, ever.

    The rest is mostly insults accusing me of being dim, lazy, a fascist etc. etc.
    And calling people Paranoid Luddities was intended as a term of endearment, not sneering, I suppose?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Urko: What is the point of having a mobile phone if you never switch it on? This is ridiculous, of course it is going to be switched on.

    The point is, you are willing to give the mobile phone company your location details, but use this tracking argument against everyone else, why?

    "You said NO2ID were hypocrites for opposing the tracking devices needed for road pricing"

    This is the same point. They do oppose this because they oppose ID cards that track an individual (except mobile phones, internet etc. which is why they and anybody who supports them are hypocrites).

    "As long as I'm not breaking any laws I don't think what I do or where I do it is any of your, or the State's business - you obviously do. However, on a practical level, our government is so secretive so much of the time that it plainly couldn't work, ever."

    I agree the government are out of order in their secrecy (although they have passed laws to make govt more open than ever before), but I think the same argument applies to individuals. That is my point, lets open this up. Anything we do however private, impacts on other people, so in that way we all have a right to know as long as the relationship is reciprocal (and that is the crucial point).

    Paranoid: Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others.

    Luddite: In the popular conception sense of an irrational fright of new technology.

    This seems an accurate description of people posting here, if it is insulting then that is incidental rather than deliberate.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The point is, you are willing to give the mobile phone company your location details, but use this tracking argument against everyone else, why?

    1.It isn't the same data (my phone provider doesn't want my fingerprints)
    2.It is optional and controlled by me - i.e. I can give it up at any time by switching off the phone or terminating the contract
    3.There is a benefit to my having a mobile phone
    4.It doesn't interfere with my daily life.

    This is the same point.
    No, it's a different point and you have choosen to avoid the point about road pricing.

    ..... which is why they and anybody who supports them are hypocrites).

    Another redefinition of a word from the English language. You're pretty free with the invective for a guy who can't even grasp the difference between compulsory and voluntary.

    I agree the government are out of order in their secrecy (although they have passed laws to make govt more open than ever before), but I think the same argument applies to individuals. That is my point, lets open this up. Anything we do however private, impacts on other people, so in that way we all have a right to know as long as the relationship is reciprocal (and that is the crucial point).

    The philosopical point assumes some kind of utopian Anarchy in which no-one has any information advantage over anyone else. In modern-day capitalist Britain, where poor people have just been handed a tax rise, and the ("if you've nothing to hide") government spends thousands trying to prevent us finding out the costs and details of ID cards, how the heck could that ever work?

    Paranoid: Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others.
    It isn't irrational to fear the misuse of my identity and my privacy by you and/or the government. I find your assumption that we all need to be tracked and watched much more akin to paranoia.

    Luddite: In the popular conception sense of an irrational fright of new technology.
    I embrace a huge range of new technology. I know a lot more about much of it than you will ever know, as you have demonsrated. Just because we can make advanced chemical and nucleur weapons with the great progressions in technology - does that make the weapons good?

    This seems an accurate description of people posting here, if it is insulting then that is incidental rather than deliberate.

    It's inaccurate and insulting.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's inaccurate and insulting.

    Indeed. Urko, you said everything I want to say but will just add this: I am neither paranoid nor am I a luddite. I am perfectly capable of looking at the lessons of history to see where such a society ends up.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Urko:
    1. You are changing the subject, fingerprint data is harmless but I'm not making that argument.
    2. You may be able to 'give it up at any time' but that once again is not the point - you choose to be tracked willingly so your argument against tracking is ridiculous. Compulsory or not makes no difference.
    3. There are benefits to you in terms of reduced crime etc.
    4. Mobiles interfere with you life no less than what I'm suggesting.

    If you object to ID cards audit trails, you will certainly object to road tracking, so it is essentially the same point.

    A hypocrite is someone who argues against something in public (i.e tracking), but in their own life contradicts this.

    "some kind of utopian Anarchy in which no-one has any information advantage over anyone else...how the heck could that ever work?"

    You mean by putting all the tracking and/or biometrics on the internet for ALL to see. Seems simple enough, no-one would have an information advantage and everyone would police it, pretty easy really.

    "It isn't irrational to fear the misuse of my identity and my privacy."

    How would this do that? Remember you would have equal access to everyone else's data. You might as well argue that everyone should be blinded because they might be able to follow you home if they saw you in the street.

    "I embrace a huge range of new technology."

    Which is why you are being irrational now rejecting the benefits this could bring society.

    ReplyDelete
  6. owning a mobile phone does not mean you give consent to being tracked (it does, because you know the mobile phone company can locate you). Not quite. They can, in the sense it's physically possible for them so to do, but if they do it without your explicit consent then they're breaking the law. You might just as well say that owning a car means you give your consent to it be stolen because you know cars can be, and are, stolen all the time.

    Dan Goodman, in the post to which you allude, also made the points that I don’t want to defend this Neil Harding person who I’ve never heard of and who sounds rather foolish and that it has to be seen in context. What the government and (it appears) Neil Harding are proposing is nothing like an information symmetry but greater surveillance which is clearly asymmetric.

    I think there are some good arguments in favour of the anarchist no-privacy scheme (although ultimately I find it hard to agree with personally), but they are senseless in the context of modern Western forms of government which have so many asymmetries of power, wealth, education, etc. I think perhaps it's worth bearing in mind that some of the government's and its supporters' arguments in favour of these surveillance measures are not intrinsically wrong, but merely politically wrong (deeply so)


    I'm not sure I'd count that as a ringing endorsement for your proposal.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "if they do it without your explicit consent then they're breaking the law."

    So when I went to Sweden the other day, my mobile company broke the law by sending me and my friend texts saying 'Welcome to Sweden'. Don't talk such rubbish. If you trust mobile phone companies, ISPs and banks, etc. with your personal data then the government are benign in comparison.

    I agree with Dan Goodman that what the government is proposing is asymetrical which is why I stated in the original offending comment that I agree with NO2ID that the current govt ID scheme is flawed (a paragraph that immediately preceded the one promoting tracking but 'strangely' ommitted by most of my critics.

    Dan is kind enough to say 'sounds like' and 'it appears' when calling me foolish.

    Hey maybe it is foolish to say what I think in the face of overwhelming opposition but what the hell eh? I'm here to make my points and you are here to argue yours. Rather than just following the crowd, stick to pointing out the logical errors and flaws in my argument (so far I fail to see them). I don't think appealing to the crowd makes any difference to the strength of anyone's argument, it is sometimes a sign of weakness.

    Dan points out that there are powerful arguments for a 'no-privacy' state, even if he feels that it is not a practical possibility.

    I have heard nothing but 'it is obvious' when it comes to why we can't do this and we can't do that. Lets get to the nitty gritty of WHY something is actually 'obvious'.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Neil, I'm going to give it another go.

    I object to the government having my fingerprints because they have no business taking them (unless I commit a crime - and I haven't).

    I object to the compulsory licencing of my identity as proposed by the government and the creation of a compulsory audit trail by dint of all the extra times I will be compelled to identify myself whilst simply going about my lawful daily business (which incidentally is what I mean by disruption).

    You keep saying ID cards would have benefits but anyone can see that just isn't the case. I suspect their effect on crime will be neutral or possibly they'll result in an increase in crime. There is no chance and no evidence that they will reduce crime and even the government has pretty much given up suggesting otherwise.

    There is zero (did you hear that, zero) relationship between that and the fact that my mobile can tell the phone company where the phone (and not necessarily I) am when it is switched on - all of which is voluntary.

    If the government is so benign why does it need my fingerprints? There is no reason for it to hold such a hideous amount of my personal and ID data - none. Phone companies know my name and address and phone number and where my phone is and what numbers I've been calling, and if I don't like their service I can stop it at any time.

    As to your point about why we can't have a totally open state in which all information is freely available - try asking the government that is spending thousands trying to stop an FOI request on ID cards - that'd be a start if you're looking for examples (I've mentioned this repeatedly but you have ignored it)

    ReplyDelete
  9. So when I went to Sweden the other day, my mobile company broke the law by sending me and my friend texts saying 'Welcome to Sweden'. Don't talk such rubbish. If you trust mobile phone companies, ISPs and banks, etc. with your personal data then the government are benign in comparison.

    That is merely an automated response triggered by the phone registering on another network. That is hardly "tracking" in the sense being discussed here. They need this information for billing purposes, so no, they are not breaking the law. The only person talking rubbish here is you and a jolly fine job you are making of it, too. I recommend that you put the JCB away and stop digging.

    ReplyDelete
  10. A hypocrite is someone who argues against something in public (i.e tracking), but in their own life contradicts this.
    Would that definition include someone who realises that the current government's ID card proposals are a total disaster but still votes for them?
    I have gave up my membership of the Labour party on this issue after more than 12 years as a member (my house was the constituencey comittee rooms in the 1992 election) and many more as a supporter because I thought I'd be a hypocrite to support something I so profoundly disagree with so I won't take any lectures from any of their lackeys on hypocrisy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. ....so your argument against tracking is ridiculous. Compulsory or not makes no difference.

    It makes ALL the difference, and I now accept that you can never grasp that difference. Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Thatcher, all introduced draconian laws compelling citizens to do things, but they were the government so they were automatically benign - anyone knows you can trust the government to do the right thing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Urko: I have agreed with you in a previous comment that the govt is out of order in it's secrecy (though it is still much better than past govts). Explain to me how, if everybody's fingerprint data and other info was on the internet, this would be something I could use against you (or why I would want to)? There are millions of people (including me) who have access to the most personal data of many people every day and the chances of even the most minor inconvenience coming about because of this is small, yet the benefits people get from these records being kept are usually massive.

    "I object to the government having my fingerprints because they have no business taking them (unless I commit a crime - and I haven't)."

    Do you object to birth certificates, passports, NI/NHS numbers, health records or the countless personal data held about you by a myriad of private companies and government on the grounds that 'they have no business taking them (unless I commit a crime - and I haven't)'?

    Of course you don't, because this is an absurd argument.

    "You keep saying ID cards would have benefits but anyone can see that just isn't the case."

    Anyone? This is strange when you consider that more liberal countries than ours have the majority of their citizens that can see the benefits of ID cards. So I am sure you can see that to say 'anyone' is not correct.

    All this stuff about 'voluntary' and 'compulsory' is disingenuous. People used the same argument against the smoking ban. The point is, without compulsion, people's rights are over-ridden by inertia and once compulsion comes in, the massive benefits to the majority far outweigh the slight inconvenience to the minority and most people agree once the law comes in.

    Try living your life avoiding direct debits, debit cards, cashpoints, libraries, interactive tv, the internet, mobile phones etc. etc. if you wish, but I prefer these benefits of modern society.

    ReplyDelete
  13. "That is merely an automated response triggered by the phone registering on another network. That is hardly "tracking" in the sense being discussed here. They need this information for billing purposes, so no, they are not breaking the law."

    So nobody gets to see this info? Of course it is tracking. You are the one talking rubbish.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Urko: "Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Thatcher, all introduced draconian laws compelling citizens to do things, but they were the government so they were automatically benign"

    Your argument is getting worse. The government passes laws 'compelling us' not to harm others so neither is the government automatically malign. We have governments because they are by a long way mostly beneficial to us (especially in the more democratic developed world which the UK is a part of).

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Would that definition include someone who realises that the current government's ID card proposals are a total disaster but still votes for them?"

    It would have to be an enormously negative issue to overide all the good this govt does. Even if the government completely waste £30bn on ID cards and it brings no benefits whatsoever, I would still prefer Labour to the Tories.

    The Casinos bill is a far bigger negative but even that is not enough to warrant accepting Cameron's Tories destroying public services.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We have governments because they are by a long way mostly beneficial to us
    I thought I agreed with you about Thatcher, but maybe I don't - I don't think the Thatcher government was "by a long way mostly beneficial" so there's an example in living memory of a facist demagogue who was a big fan of that champion of human rights, General Pinochet - is your view of the Thatcher government that it was "by a long way mostly beneficial"?

    ReplyDelete
  17. the massive benefits to the majority
    But ID cards don't offer any benefits to the majority at all.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anyone? This is strange when you consider that more liberal countries than ours have the majority of their citizens that can see the benefits of ID cards.

    Which countries? On what evidence? You can have a bonus point if you name one country with a system in existence such as the one this ogvernment is propsing

    So I am sure you can see that to say 'anyone' is not correct.
    No. I can see that I am agruing with someone who doesn't know anything about ID cards in other countries.

    ReplyDelete
  19. So nobody gets to see this info? Of course it is tracking. You are the one talking rubbish.

    Oh, do grow up, Neil. If I don't agree to this happening or don't want the service(and therefore billing), I either switch the phone off or don't take it with me. The only people who see this are those with whom I have a voluntary contract.

    Get your dictionary out and look up the words "voluntary" and "compulsory".

    Your argument is getting worse. The government passes laws 'compelling us' not to harm others so neither is the government automatically malign.

    No, it is your argument that is getting worse. Did you have a logic bypass at some point? Government as a principle is for the good, but government must be subject to close scrutiny by the electorate if it is to remain benign. Given this government's obsession with secrecy to the point of spending our money on a court case to keep from us that which we have a right to see portends a disturbing trend. Your defence of the indefensible is becoming more absurd with every comment. Like Urko, I was a member of the party, like Urko my house was used as a committee room during elections, like Urko I could no longer reconcile my principles of a free and fair society with the control freakery being exhibited by the New Labour elite. Like Urko, I did the decent thing and walked away from something that had become thoroughly rotten.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Firstly, you are tracking the mobile phone, not the person. Suppose the bills for Pay Monthly are paid by someone other than the holder?

    Suppose the owner has purchased (or otherwise acquired) a Pay-As-You-Go phone?

    Of course data is still stored in these scenarios, but how do you tie it to a particular person?

    Secondly, the data stored relating to mobile phones and those who are able to access this data is incomparable to what is allowed by the Identity Cards Act.

    Thirdly, the fact that mobile phone use is voluntary and the identity card registration and use will eventually be compulsory (under current proposals) is entirely relevant.

    Of course it matters whether or not something is voluntary, and of course it matters whether or not how the organisation storing the data is covered by the data protection legislation.

    With regard to the latter a clear distinction can be made between the public and private sectors.

    In addition there is the matter of choice.

    I can choose whether or not to have a mobile phone, loyalty card, direct debit, debit card, cashpoint, library card, or access to the internet.

    Not only can I choose to have none, one, or more, of any of those things, I can also choose between providers.

    All else being equal, I will be less likely to choose a provider with a poor record of protecting my data than a provider with a good record.

    There is no such choice available under the identity card scheme.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Longrider: "The only people who see this are those with whom I have a voluntary contract."

    You are voluntarily agreeing to being tracked, so therefore how can you argue against tracking? If it is ok for you to 'volunteer' to be tracked (along with most of the population) then there can't be anything wrong in principle with being tracked. To say otherwise is hypocritical, whether it is compulsory or not is irrelevant to this point.

    "Government as a principle is for the good, but government must be subject to close scrutiny by the electorate if it is to remain benign."

    That is all I am saying. Put everything on the internet, all government documents, everyone's location, everyone's biometrics. We can all police it and scrutinise to our hearts content.

    "Like Urko, I did the decent thing and walked away from something that had become thoroughly rotten."

    Rather than stay within the only decent(ish) party that has a chance of being elected and try and improve it. It doesn't sound very decent to me, it sounds like a cop out.

    Ukliberty: "There is no such choice available under the identity card scheme."

    So if ID cards were provided by a number of competitor private companies you would be happier about it?

    "Of course data is still stored in these scenarios, but how do you tie it to a particular person?"

    Well in the majority of cases where the police or security firms use it, it provides the police with useful tracking information - so this info we happily entrust to the mobile company, who knows who gets to look at it and frankly I don't care and neither do you and most of the population - because we both choose to have mobile phones in the full knowledge of this, why? Because we know it is very very unlikely to be a problem.

    It would be nice to have some honesty here. Most people I know carry their mobile phones with them at all times and keep them switched on most of the time. I have some friends who are very careful about their personal details and they are no to ID, tracking, the govt, you name it they are anti, but do they switch their phones off, or not carry them with them all the time? Do they heck? Get in the real world not the pretend world in your head.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Mr Harding:

    "So if ID cards were provided by a number of competitor private companies you would be happier about it?"

    If identity cards were voluntary, there were a number of competitors, and customers were adequately protected by legislation, yes I'd be happier about it.

    "Well in the majority of cases where the police or security firms use it, it provides the police with useful tracking information"

    Assuming you can eventually tie it to a particular individual, of course.

    " - so this info we happily entrust to the mobile company, who knows who gets to look at it and frankly I don't care and neither do you and most of the population - because we both choose to have mobile phones in the full knowledge of this, why? Because we know it is very very unlikely to be a problem."

    That's right, what we do (or should do) is make a trade-off between the risk of entrusting the provider - whether it provides phones, bank accounts, or loyalty cards etc - with a particular set of sensitive data, and what we perceive to be among the relative benefits, which include their privacy policy and their record of upholding it, of giving our custom to that particular provider.

    As there are relatively few reports of data abuse/misuse, fraudulent transactions and so on, especially (it seems to me) with mobile phones, people generally opt for a provider on cost grounds.

    But of course I care who gets to see the data - all else being equal, it would seem irrational to opt for a provider with a poor privacy policy or a relatively bad record of data protection, wouldn't it? Or are you saying that you wouldn't care?

    With regard to honesty, yes I have a mobile phone and I leave it on most of the time. But that is my choice.

    I would appreciate you explaining how the data relating to mobile phone use is in any way comparable to the data that can be stored and accessed under the Identity Cards Act.

    I'll finish my response by saying that there is plenty of precedent to suggest that abuse of data will continue to occur and sometimes this puts the victims in physical danger.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You are voluntarily agreeing to being tracked, so therefore how can you argue against tracking? If it is ok for you to 'volunteer' to be tracked (along with most of the population) then there can't be anything wrong in principle with being tracked. To say otherwise is hypocritical, whether it is compulsory or not is irrelevant to this point.


    Jesus H Christ on a fucking pogo stick! I have not agreed to be tracked - can't you read plain English? The phone, not the user can be located - with the express permission of the holder. For crying out loud. I have given no such permission EVER!

    What I have agreed to is billing and when the phone registers on another network, that has to be logged for billing purposes. This is not nor can ever be constituted as tracking. There is no hypocrisy here, merely your intransigent dunderheadedness. Choice is entirely relevant as everyone understands except you.

    I give up at this point, I really do.

    When you have learned to converse in English, when you have learned the principles of logic and when you have taken the time to look at history and human nature and understood what it is you have looked at, then maybe we can engage in reasonable discourse. Until then, my time is wasted.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Rather than stay within the only decent(ish) party that has a chance of being elected and try and improve it. It doesn't sound very decent to me, it sounds like a cop out.

    I can't speak for Longrider - we weren't in the same CLP or else I'd know him outside of cyberspace, but my (Labour) MP was nasty sarcastic and unpleasant when I contacted him about ID cards. He didn't answer anything personally but just arranged for the Home Office to send me some lies and propoganda. So I tried, but no one in the party wanted to know. Sadly, Neil, you seem typical of the people I met - on any given issue there seemed to be an attitude of "things are already bad, so making them worse is ok" and that was from the few prepared to debate the issue at all. Like Longrider, I recently received a laughable pile of managementspeak in a standard letter begging me to come back to the party and trying to pretend Labour cares what I think. As you and my MP have demonstrated, that is only true if I am prepared to support the indefensible. How much work have you done within the party to persuade people to rethink a policy that you accept is crazy, Neil?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Neil - I see you have sidestepped my questions about Thatcher and other countries ID cards.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Longrider: In most cases, mobile phone companies can determine to within 150 yards where a particular mobile phone is - in anybodys book this is tracking.

    If you were honest you would admit that most people (including I suspect you) keep their mobiles on all the time and keep their mobile on their person without caring what info the mobile company has on them.

    Ukliberty: So you trust private companies more than the government? I think it is more irrational to trust people who are only interested in your money than people who are elected. It is this fear of government (fed by the papers no doubt) that is fuelling your opposition rather than any concern about the process itself.

    Every phone call you make and text message you send could be viewed. I imagine this is just as sensitive as anything on an ID card database. Then there is your ISP, search engines on the net...you obviously trust them more than government as well. We both know the chances of any detriment from any of this is negligible but the potential benefits (admittedly not under the present scheme) could be huge.

    urko: I admit the present UK scheme is flawed but Sweden for example has an ID card system that most of the people would fight to keep. I mentioned my ideas on tracking etc to a Swedish friend this weekend and she had no objection at all. She was amazed when I told her the sort of reaction I would get in England. They think we are a strange lot, and to be honest they are right.

    Thatcher was a malign influence to be sure but although she worsened the government, it was still a benign influence overall despite her best efforts to destroy public services etc. Much damaged and worse but still mostly beneficial (no thanks to Thatcher of course).

    ReplyDelete
  27. Mr Harding:

    "So you trust private companies more than the government? I think it is more irrational to trust people who are only interested in your money than people who are elected."

    Why?

    You said yourself that some politicians are dishonest and that "Honesty rarely wins you votes".

    You aren't alone. It seems the majority of the public distrust politicians.

    "It is this fear of government (fed by the papers no doubt) that is fuelling your opposition rather than any concern about the process itself."

    No.

    Fundamentally there is competition for my money in the private sector. If there is sufficient public concern about privacy we will inevitably see businesses competing on that ground. This just does not happen in the public sector. The public sector gets my money regardless of my satisfaction with its service.

    As I mentioned earlier there is also a difference between the protections and remedies relating to personal data if it is an organisation in the private or public sector.

    The newspapers have nothing to do with it.

    "Every phone call you make and text message you send could be viewed. I imagine this is just as sensitive as anything on an ID card database. Then there is your ISP, search engines on the net...you obviously trust them more than government as well."

    Why do you say I obviously trust them more than the government? I don't wholly trust any organisation with my data. What I do is assess the pros and cons of entrusting a particular organisation with some of my data. Again, I have a choice in the private sector.

    You seem to be missing five key points.

    First, there is choice and competition. I can choose not to use any of these things, or use any number of them.

    Second, depending on the service, there are ways for me - if I was so inclined - to prevent the authorities from tying such data to me or at the very least make it difficult.

    For instance, I am not forced to use a particular ISP, nor am I forced to even have an account with an ISP in order to access the internet. Someone else might pay for the mobile phone or I pay monthly. And so on.

    Third, the data you mention is being held in separate databases in different organisations and there are different degrees of data retention.

    Fourth, and very important, the difference between the protections and remedies relating to personal data if it is an organisation in the private or public sector.

    Five, and perhaps most important, the data that may be stored in the National Register, and who has access to it, and what the implications are for any meta-databases.

    * every name you’ve ever been known by;
    * every address you’ve ever lived at;
    * every immigration status you’ve ever held;
    * a photograph of your face; your fingerprints;
    * the number of every official identity document issued to you, such as driving licences, passports, visas, etc; and,
    * the details of every occasion on which your identity is checked, and who it was checked by, and thus a record of, for example, each time you register with a doctor/clinic, sign up for benefits, enroll your kids in a state school, access any public services to which you have to prove entitlement, open a bank account, apply for a credit card or take out a mortgage, or purchase alcohol.

    Note: may be stored, not will.

    Incidentally, do you think this is what the majority of the public have in mind when they say they support identity cards in principle?

    "We both know the chances of any detriment from any of this is negligible but the potential benefits (admittedly not under the present scheme) could be huge."

    I am not talking about a hypothetical scheme. I am talking about the present scheme, which goes a lot further than simply verifying I have a particular identity.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Sweden, where you have to show your ID card for every trivial transaction - why?

    And if you are not Swedish, but are there legally, they will paralyse you economically by refusing you a card, ah yes, a dream of a system. I notice you don't allude to the fact that their scheme is totally different from the one our benign and wonder ful government wants to foist upon us all. As for the Swedes thinking we're mad - so what? I think the Americans have some pretty strange ideas - what does that prove?

    ReplyDelete
  30. "if they do it without your explicit consent then they're breaking the law."

    So when I went to Sweden the other day, my mobile company broke the law by sending me and my friend texts saying 'Welcome to Sweden'. Don't talk such rubbish. If you trust mobile phone companies, ISPs and banks, etc. with your personal data then the government are benign in comparison

    No, they weren't breaking the law when they sent you a text welcoming you to Sweden, but that's not what we were discussing. They would have been breaking the law had they told anyone else, without your permission, arrived in Sweden, just as they'd be breaking the law were they, without your permission, to keep on pinging your phone so as to track your movements in real time; possibly you didn't understand the article , but that's what Ben Goldacre was describing. They didn't tell him where his girlfriend was when she made or received a call, nor did they tell him what national network she was using (i.e. what country she happened to be in). They enabled him to track her, in real time, to within 150 yards so long as her phone was on, which is a completely different kettle of fish.

    My local corner shop could tell you that I went in there last night at 2030 to buy some cigarettes; they couldn't tell you what else I'd done in the day without following me, however, and I've certainly not given Mr Patel permission to stalk me.

    There is, in other words, a complete difference between the phone company keeping track of where and when you used the phone, for billing purposes and no other -- to that, the subscriber does agree, certainly -- and its monitoring where you are, or, more accurately, where your phone is, at any hour of the day or night for as long as it's switched on, whether you're using it or not. One's legal and the other isn't, for one thing.

    And, yes, I do voluntarily chose to trust particular private organisations with whom I've chosen to do business with particular aspects of my personal data that they need to know in order to provide me with a specific service. That's completely different from being forced by the government to provide it with considerably more information, whether I want to or not, which it's then legally able to share very widely between different government departments.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thatcher was a malign influence to be sure but although she worsened the government, it was still a benign influence overall
    Thanks for letting me have you view on this Neil - it's interesting, I thought we'd agree on Thatcher (as you know I'm a big fan of your 20 reasons), but we don't. I think government under Thatcher changed markedly and on the whole was malignant - I'm a bit older than you (45) so maybe it hit home a bit more when she called me "the enemy within" because I disagreed with her, and I was being forced to give an account of myself to dole officials who had no more clue than I did how I could get a job but were under pressure to fiddle the figures and make us all disappear. Make no mistake, in the atmosphere of the time, if she'd felt she had the mandate she'd have seized power for good - why do you think she loved pinochet so much? There's a bloke who knew how to deal with opposition. She lied in Parliament, had no respect for democracy and used the police and civil service for political purposes.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I will answer all the points later tonight as I haven't got time now, but I just want to say that that article in the local is a load of rubbish. I have just been in Sweden and went to clubs, bars, sytembolagets etc, and never had to show Swedish ID. My friend who is Finnish has just moved to Sweden from Preston in England (having lived there 7 years) and he has opened a bank account, received benefits and is now working there WITHOUT having a Swedish ID Card.

    ReplyDelete
  33. but I just want to say that that article in the local is a load of rubbish Ah yes, of course, the world according to Neil, everyone else is out of step, sir.

    If you don't need the wonderful Swedish ID card what's it for? Doesn't that just make it a waste of time/effort/money if no-one ever needs to use it?

    ReplyDelete
  34. No doubt this article in The Local which reports that the Swedish Government is to set up an Inquiry into the problem of legal immigrants not being able to obtain Swedish ID is also "a load of rubbish" after all, as we all know, Neil governments are friendly, benign forces for good and protect us from evil people who want a private life - now why would they hold an inquiry into a problem that didn't exist?

    ReplyDelete
  35. And I imagine this blog entry and the 30 or so comments entered are also a figment of the author's imaginations?

    ReplyDelete
  36. "whether it is compulsory or not is irrelevant to this point"

    Oh Jesus. Oh dear god.

    Here is a little thought experiment for you.

    Let us say for the moment that you like to eat oranges, Neil.

    Let us assume that you have arrived at this choice with no external coercion.

    You quite willingly engage in the act of orange eating.

    Now, tell me, would you object if you were FORCED by the Government to eat oranges, on pain of a substantial fine or a prison sentence?

    ReplyDelete
  37. Urko: I am only reporting what I did last week. I suspect those having problems are underage or have documents that are dodgy.

    I went to Tech Noir club in Slussen (I registered on the internet and used my passport to get in), Sturehall Club, KGB Club and countless bars in Gamla Stan in the centre require no ID, In fact nearly all the bars are like this and I didn't see anybody who had to produce any ID in these bars. My passport was good enough for systembolagets and booze (other than spirits) is now available in supermarkets and I didn't have to produce ID at all there. I can assure you I do not have a Swedish ID card.

    Nor does my Finnish friend, who lives and works in Sweden.

    I would suggest that this source is not as reliable as you think it is.

    I am sure a recognised form of ID is required in Sweden for a lot of services and the personnumber and ID card are the foremost recognised and accepted, but there are clear untruths in this linked article that has been posted by notsausure.

    ReplyDelete
  38. *correction* untruths in link article posted by urko.

    ReplyDelete
  39. cleanthes:

    The point is 'do you object to the principle of tracking'

    Longrider and others have stated that they do object to tracking in principle, but then they go and volunteer to be tracked so how can they be against tracking and volunteer for it? Do you see what I am getting at?

    I was not saying there is no difference between something being voluntary and compulsory - of course there is.

    The trouble however is even something that has the impression of being voluntary can end up effectively compulsory, which is why I used the example of the smoking ban. Although non-smokers in theory had a choice to drink in non-smoking pubs, in practise they didn't. This is the same for a whole range of things. It is only by banning indoor smoking that non-smokers have been given a proper choice and it is only by compulsion that ID schemes, tracking schemes etc can give people the choice to effectively protect their security etc.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Notsaussure: "No, they weren't breaking the law when they sent you a text welcoming you to Sweden, but that's not what we were discussing"

    I wasn't suggesting they were breaking the law - I sarcastically wrote that because it was suggested that mobile phone companies would be breaking the law if they tracked you. I was making a point about them knowing I was in Sweden and knowing which transmitter is picking up my phone which is effectively tracking someone.

    UkLiberty: I'm not going to get into another debate about the govt ID scheme, I admit it is flawed.

    "The public sector gets my money regardless of my satisfaction with its service."

    In a way, elections and getting the media onside can give you more power than the money in your pocket, so you can't say 'regardless of satisfaction of service'. The NHS has customer satisfaction the private sector would die for and so do a number of other public services.

    1. Choice can be limited, even Hobsons choice in the private sector. If it wasn't for government regulation (i.e some compulsory rules) then the market would be less competitive in a lot of areas. Some compulsory tracking and ID can give more people more real choice.

    2. Yes there are ways you can make it difficult to be tracked etc and still use these services, but if you are honest I bet you don't do these things and nor do the vast majority of people so it is irrelevant.

    3. I am talking about making the data openly available for all to see (that is the security), where it is stored is irrelevant.

    4 & 5. The problems here relate to unequal powers of access to data rather than problems caused by storing the data which is why I say put everything on the net.

    Incidently I missed this article in the Guardian yesterday about 'community webcam' CCTV.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Neil - The Smoking ban analogy is a good one. Can you see that it removes smokers choice? They now don't have a choice about whether to light up indoors. No doubt you would argue that since that implies health risks for others, that's appropriate. You and this government advocate taking away my right not to have my biometric and a range of other data recorded in a government database. Except that I'm not doing anyhting injurious to your health or well-being. I don't lie about my identity or engage in criminal activity, so you have no right to impose your will on me.

    By the way, the Swedish article was talking about legal immigrants not tourists, as I mentioned, but you seem to have missed. Why would the Swedish government be holding an inquiry into something made up?

    ReplyDelete
  42. "Why would the Swedish government be holding an inquiry into something made up?"

    Well some of it most definitely is made up because I bought alcohol in bars and clubs etc without ID and my friend works there without a Swedish ID card.

    I imagine the spin on the story is perhaps talking about a few people who have illegitimate ID and pretending they are legitimate or maybe some govt staff have been over-zealous. The Swedish govt may well be investigating this. They do say it is a 'handful' of cases.

    If I went to a video shop and tried to register with forged ID I would expect to be turned away. This site obviously has an agenda. Make your own mind up from a number of sources.

    ReplyDelete
  43. "The Smoking ban analogy is a good one. Can you see that it removes smokers choice?...Except that I'm not doing anything injurious to your health or well-being."

    A minor inconvenience to the Smokers is going to bring huge benefits to the rest of society.

    A minor inconvenience to those who value their privacy could bring huge reductions in crime and huge increases in detection rates. So yes you are potentially injuring my health and wellbeing.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Mr Harding:

    "I'm not going to get into another debate about the govt ID scheme, I admit it is flawed."

    You introduced it!

    "'The public sector gets my money regardless of my satisfaction with its service.'"

    "In a way, elections and getting the media onside can give you more power than the money in your pocket, so you can't say 'regardless of satisfaction of service'. The NHS has customer satisfaction the private sector would die for and so do a number of other public services."

    If that's true it's a wonder companies like BUPA survive, isn't it?

    "1. Choice can be limited, even Hobsons choice in the private sector. If it wasn't for government regulation (i.e some compulsory rules) then the market would be less competitive in a lot of areas. Some compulsory tracking and ID can give more people more real choice."

    You've lost me.

    "2. Yes there are ways you can make it difficult to be tracked etc and still use these services, but if you are honest I bet you don't do these things and nor do the vast majority of people so it is irrelevant."

    Well, I don't pay for this internet connection. How do you propose to relate its traffic to me?

    There are probably thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people that are in a similar position. Not because they want to avoid the authorities, but because it is convenient in some way.

    "Incidently I missed this article in the Guardian yesterday about 'community webcam' CCTV."

    Dealt with by SpyBlog.

    By the way I'd still like to know how data stored by mobile phone companies compares to that allowed under the Identity Cards Act.

    ReplyDelete
  45. BUPA cannot compete with the NHS in a lot of areas. It has to specialise in the high profit areas and rely on media scare stories to put a few rich people off the NHS.

    1. The 'free' market relies on regulation and government support otherwise we would end up with 1929 crashes every decade or so. Also when a company dominates a market, it is the govt that regulates that monopoly to allow competition. Companies have to be compelled to act in a certain way to protect the consumer. Sometimes we have to regulate the individual in this way as well to protect society.

    2. "There are probably thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people that are in a similar position. Not because they want to avoid the authorities, but because it is convenient in some way."

    Exactly it is a minority and even then they are not doing it to avoid the authorities, in practise virtually nobody worries about these things enough to follow these precautions.

    Finally the identity cards act does not require the level of tracking and personal info that we all willingly entrust to mobile companies, ISPs and banks etc. But saying that the way the govt is going to implement the current scheme is not going to be very cost effective or useful. I would like to see significant changes. I also accept that the technology is probably not ready yet to implement biometric cards. However, if I did raise this issue, I didn't mean to. I have already debated all this at length so don't intend to repeat it all again. Check the ID cards archive or enter a search for 'ID'.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Mr Harding:

    "if I did raise this issue, I didn't mean to. I have already debated all this at length so don't intend to repeat it all again. Check the ID cards archive or enter a search for 'ID'."

    If you recall, you attempted to argue that No2ID are hypocrites because they aren't campaigning against mobile phones.

    I've always found it difficult to have reasonable discussion with opponents who forget what they are arguing for and those who keep missing the point. With respect you seem to fall into both camps.

    I will now bow out of this discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  47. minor inconvenience to those who value their privacy could bring huge reductions in crime and huge increases in detection rates. So yes you are potentially injuring my health and wellbeing.
    Neil - I don't believe the benefits you claim for this could ever be realised. Unfortunately, the only way to prove it conclusively would be for me to give up my rights to privacy for ever, and I won't do that willingly. I would observe, however, that I don't think Sweden, just as one example, has significantly better quality of life as result of it's ID card and State control policies - it's not that I think it's much worse either - just not really any different, so there's no need to emulate the Swedes. None of the countries with draconian state control (and it's getting hard to find any with more draconian laws than here these days) seems to be a wonderful crime-free paradise. I'd prefer to concentrate on crime prevention than spend billions to be able to catch murderers after they strike - that doesn't bring the victims back.

    ReplyDelete
  48. UKliberty: The point I was trying to make is that I would imagine all those who support NO2ID almost certainly oppose things like tracking and yet they own mobile phones that allow them to be tracked. I was pointing out the hypocrisy of this position. That was all I was saying.

    Urko: One big example that is highly beneficial to Swedes of having an ID system is that all those entitled to benefits get them automatically and don't have to go through mountains of form filling like they do here. We know from awful take up of benefits here, that some of the poorest people fail to claim them (is it 30% who fail to claim tax credits and a similar amount of pensioners who fail to claim their full benefit entitlements?).

    ReplyDelete
  49. Neil - we could pay tax credits automatically now, Revenue and Customs have the data to hand, so that's not argument for an ID system. I believe the idea's been suggested but rejected for as far as I can see, no good reason. Like (I think) you, I'm genrally against most means tested benefits and we have all the infrastructure we need to deliver these benefits right now. All the form-filling crap isn't because we don't have an ID system, it's because the government (this and previous ones) chooses to organise it that way.

    ReplyDelete
  50. "we could pay tax credits automatically now, Revenue and Customs have the data to hand"

    I think an ID scheme makes the automatic payments more secure and less likely to be abused.

    The govt probably rejected the idea because of this.

    I too am absolutely against means testing. We should never punish people for having savings or working hard and universal payments (like child benefit) do three important things. They are easier to administrate, they garner support right across the political/economic spectrum and they mean the most disadvantaged who need the benefits the most, do not miss out.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I think an ID scheme makes the automatic payments more secure and less likely to be abused. In what way? You get tax credits if you're a taxpayer.

    The govt probably rejected the idea because of this.
    I think it's much more likely they rejected on cost grounds since 100% take up would mean they'd either have to raise taxes (which they are too timid to do except for poorer people) or reduce the value of the credits.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Neil,

    "I was not saying there is no difference between something being voluntary and compulsory - of course there is."

    And neither was I. You were saying that the difference is not relevant:

    "whether it is compulsory or not is irrelevant"

    Now: do you object to being FORCED to do something that you would otherwise be happy to do of your own volition?

    I quite like to eat oranges, but I do NOT like to be force fed them.

    See? The compulsion is the difference, not the willingness to do something of your own choice Neil.

    "The trouble however is even something that has the impression of being voluntary can end up effectively compulsory"

    I think you've just described the ID card and NIR scheme.

    ReplyDelete
  53. How much work have you done within the Labour party to persuade people to rethink a policy (ID cards) that you accept is crazy, and a vote loser, Neil?

    ReplyDelete
  54. I imagine the spin on the story is perhaps talking about a few people who have illegitimate ID and pretending they are legitimate or maybe some govt staff have been over-zealous. The Swedish govt may well be investigating this. They do say it is a 'handful' of cases.

    Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the future. You find yourself unable to get an ID card to which you should be legally entitled, and the inept government who brought in the crap new rules that caused the problem launches an inquiry.

    In spite of this there will be people around whoose supine devotion to the very word "government" means they will say that you must be "dodgy" or "up to no good" because anyone knows governments are benign and don't make errors ever.

    What a sickening prospect. Coming to formerly free country soon.

    ReplyDelete
  55. urko: I actually said 'ON THAT POINT it is not relevant', which is correct.

    If you object to something in principle then you do not sign up for it voluntarily which is what NO2ID people have done when they use mobile phones, the internet, bank accounts etc. That was the point I was making, whether it was compulsory or voluntary is not the issue on that point.

    Then we have to look at what in practise, voluntary and compulsory means on some of these issues, which is why I mentioned the smoking ban.

    The smoking ban in Scotland now has over 80% approval ratings yet it compels a minority to act in a certain way that could be inconvenient for them, yet in practise it is for the good of everyone (including smokers). Theoretically non-smokers had a choice to avoid smoke, but in practise they were compelled to breathe it in. So by bringing in a law making something compulsory, you have actually increased choice for the majority. The same could be said of losing some privacy in return for increased security, reduced crime etc. that benefits us all (including those that complain).

    I am sure someone out there is going to go on about the Nazis use of technology and their invasions of privacy. To compare the present UK government to the Nazis is absurd and a gross insult to all those who suffered under the Nazis. Like I have said to Longrider on his site, it was the Nazis that made the technology look bad, not the technology that made the Nazis look bad.

    ReplyDelete
  56. It won't make any difference how many times we say it so I ought to give up. There is no paradox in participating in a totally different type of information gathering with totally different objectives and opposing a compulsory state scheme - you can't just say that the nature of the data and the compulsion aren't relevant - they aren't just relevant, they are the whole point

    ReplyDelete
  57. The smoking ban only applies to not doing something so it's much less intrusive and it has proven health benefits. There are zero proven benfits to ID cards and State licencing of my ID.
    As to the comparison with the Nazis - no-one's making the comparison in terms of gas chambers so you can get off your high horse, take a look at some of the things the nazis did "for everyone's good" and apologise, since the comparison is, sadly relevant in many areas. The (post-Nazi) German constitution specifially forbade the creation of a National ID database, why do you think that was?

    What have you done to argue against ID cards in the Labour Party, Neil?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Like I have said to Longrider on his site, it was the Nazis that made the technology look bad, not the technology that made the Nazis look bad.

    And as I pointed out to you (and you conveniently omit to mention here); no one has complained about technology, merely the behaviour of people; the potential for abuse by government or its minions or those who successfully hack into their systems.

    Your statement here makes the case I have been making all along. Thank you for finally getting it.

    ReplyDelete
  59. The intention of the Nazis was malign, the intention of our government is benign. The technology is neutral.

    Some NO2ID supporters (in fact probably most) do claim this country is a Nazi State, which is pathetic, absurd and insulting to those who suffered under the Nazis.

    urko: Most people I talk to in the party on this issue (and no I haven't made a big thing about it) are either very worried about the cost or practicality or oppose the scheme, so in answer I haven't had to do much persuading.

    ReplyDelete
  60. The intention of the Nazis was malign, the intention of our government is benign. The technology is neutral.

    And you can absolutely guarantee that a future government will be benign? Always? Forever?

    I don't think so. Only a fool would try.

    I have never suggested that the technology is anything other than neutral. As I pointed out, my concern is with human nature. History has enough precedent to assure us that sooner or later information and technology will be abused. That is the reference that is relevant when discussing Nazi Germany or its communist successor - human behaviour and the abuse of technology and information.

    Besides, even if the intent is benign, sheer incompetence and jobsworthery will undermine that intent. I have enough experience of dealing with government agencies to realise that my information is best kept as far away from them as is humanly possible.

    ReplyDelete
  61. "And you can absolutely guarantee that a future government will be benign? Always? Forever?"

    This is a stupid argument. You might as well argue against any government at all if this is your worry.

    If we elect a Nazi govt we will have more to worry about than whether we have road pricing or not.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I must commend you for your courageous battle with mental dwarfism.

    ReplyDelete
  63. This is a stupid argument. You might as well argue against any government at all if this is your worry.

    As is usual, you manage to miss the point by a parsec or two.

    Waste of time trying to reason with you really...

    ReplyDelete
  64. We cannot guarantee that all future governments will be benign, indeed parts (a minority) of government are already malign but to use this as an argument against providing government services (that help us) with more accessible accurate data is pathetic.

    At the end of the day;

    1. Pretty much all the info governments could ever need is already out there and the vast majority consent to this (even those that say they don't actually do consent in practise) because it makes their lives easier and better.

    2. There is safety in numbers and as long as the process is policed by everyone it is safe and fair.

    3. This info will help us have more efficient services and reduce abuse of the system.

    4. Government is being slagged off but at the end of the day we pretty much all accept that government today is better than government 100 years ago, even 50 years ago, people are healthier, have access to better services etc. and western democratic governments are overwhelmingly a force for good (obviously the more democratic the better they are - (i.e Scandanavia). Things can always be improved, things will never be perfect, but that is no excuse for rejecting a more efficient government.

    ReplyDelete
  65. 1. Pretty much all the info governments could ever need is already out there and the vast majority consent to this (even those that say they don't actually do consent in practise) because it makes their lives easier and better.
    Utter bollocks. The government wants to record my fingerprints in a database. That isn't "out there".

    2. There is safety in numbers and as long as the process is policed by everyone it is safe and fair.
    Also bollocks because it won't be policed by anyone who the government doesn't allow to police it - why are you and Charles Clarke pretending otherwise?

    3. This info will help us have more efficient services and reduce abuse of the system.
    Total Bollocks. It will invlove a vast and extremely costly infrastructure that will cause delay and inconvenience for a law-abiding majority.

    4. Government is being slagged off but at the end of the day we pretty much all accept that government today is better than government 100 years ago, even 50 years ago, people are healthier, have access to better services etc. and western democratic governments are overwhelmingly a force for good (obviously the more democratic the better they are - (i.e Scandanavia). Things can always be improved, things will never be perfect, but that is no excuse I have no personal experience of how good government was 100 years ago - things have improved for many people, but that isn't because government is better at controlling us all - many improvements have been in spite of, not because of, governments.

    ReplyDelete
  66. 1. What value is a fingerprint or any biometric etc? It is just useful to identify someone. What have you personally lost?

    2. You are right that I am being wishful in wanting open access to any info. It would be dodgy otherwise.

    3. It could be costly and inefficient but it needn't be.

    4. Even in our lifetime compare the attitude of public servants with today; the sus law police of the 1980s, the attitude of those working in job centres, social services, even lecturers. The needs of the public get more consideration than ever.

    ReplyDelete
  67. 1. What value is a fingerprint or any biometric etc? It is just useful to identify someone. What have you personally lost?

    Control.
    Now I have the prospect that regardless of who I say I am, and where I say I have been, the Government may say otherwise, and the onus is no longer on them to prove it. Because the government won't own up to mistakes. If my fingerprints don't match the one's on file it'll be "computer says no" for me, even if I have been a good boy and jumped through all the hoops the government demands.

    2. You are right that I am being wishful in wanting open access to any info. It would be dodgy otherwise.
    Not "would" - WILL be dodgy - and you are actively supporting that.

    3. It could be costly and inefficient but it needn't be.
    Given past performance, be honest, the signs don't look good, do they?

    4. Even in our lifetime compare the attitude of public servants with today; the sus law police of the 1980s, the attitude of those working in job centres, social services, even lecturers. The needs of the public get more consideration than ever.
    Yes at least the Police have calmed down a bit - I mean they don't shoot many innocent people and then lie about it, so that's alright.

    ReplyDelete
  68. 1. Fingerprints themselves are not worth anything.

    "Because the government won't own up to mistakes."

    Technology would reduce their mistakes. What about all those people rotting in jails for crimes they didn't commit. DNA/CCTV etc evidence has freed many and will prevent even more miscarriages of justice.

    "Control" - Done right it could make it even easier to prove innocence as well as prove guilt. Technology could safeguard our freedom not take it away.

    4. I suspect in the past we wouldn't have even had the chance to ask the police awkward questions.

    ReplyDelete
  69. 1. Fingerprints themselves are not worth anything.

    In that case why does the government say they want mine?

    "Because the government won't own up to mistakes."

    Technology would reduce their mistakes. What about all those people rotting in jails for crimes they didn't commit. DNA/CCTV etc evidence has freed many and will prevent even more miscarriages of justice.


    How many people have been freed on DNA/CCTV evidence? - do you have a source for this claim or do you just "know"?
    Thanks for agreeing that governments don't own up though.

    "Control" - Done right it could make it even easier to prove innocence as well as prove guilt. Technology could safeguard our freedom not take it away.

    You really don't believe in "innocent until proven guilty" at all do you? I do - it isn't for me to "prove my innocence" although you and your pals want it to be.

    4. I suspect in the past we wouldn't have even had the chance to ask the police awkward questions.

    So the fact they do bad things is OK becuase now we are allowed to ask about it? Wouldn't it be better to stop them shooting innocent people dead in the first place?

    ReplyDelete
  70. 1. Fingerprints in themselves are not valuable. If you left your fingerprints on something (like we do every day) it wouldn't be of any value to anyone.

    How many people have been freed on DNA/CCTV evidence?

    Where is your evidence that DNA/CCTV evidence harms more people than it helps? Around the world many hundreds of innocent people wrongly convicted of all sorts of crimes have been freed and who knows how many have been saved from prosecution.

    We do not have 'innocent till proven guilty' in this country - we never have had it. Technology will help us prove our innocence and help catch more of the guilty, where is the problem?

    Give me concrete examples of where CCTV has been harmful? I bet they are few.

    4. The police were worse in the past, that is all I am saying.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Stephen Thomas27/5/07 11:12 am

    Excuse me, but the mobile phone company will not fine me £2,500 if I fail to register for a mobile phone. Tescos will not fine me £2,500 if I fail to register for their loyalty card. The comparison ID Cards with mobile phones or loyalty cards is a particularly dishonest one. If ID Cards are meant to protect my civil rights and are meant to be a benefit to me, then the individual could be trusted to register for one voluntarily for the gains would be transparent. It is very telling that compulsion has always been at the heart of this scheme. Why is it also that advocates for ID Cards are never able to come up with any positive reasons for them. Their idea of argument is to abuse those of us against them. 'Paranoid luddites' etc. Just goes to show how poor the case for ID Cards must be

    ReplyDelete
  72. Stephen: I have argued plenty of positives for ID cards, just check the ID posts.

    Every scheme has negatives - this issue has just got wrapped up in pathetic arguments about the Nazis and Big Brother - these are not realistic arguments - and deep down I believe opponents know this but they play on this imagery anyway. Plenty of countries have ID cards and are perfectly functioning liberal countries - more liberal than us in a lot of cases. If you focus on the downside of anythig - nothing would ever be done - there certainly would be no internet.

    Technology is wonderful - there are always going to be downsides but lets not shy away from the benefits just because of some irrational fear.

    At the end of the day - ID Cards can make us all more secure and life safer - lets examine the issues with real honesty - rather than irrational soundbites.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Stephen Thomas27/5/07 10:40 pm

    Neil, I have scanned this thread in some detail and I have yet to see a positive argument advanced for ID cards. Your entire piece is attacking NO2ID and its alleged hypocrisy.

    You have not answered my question about the criminalisation of those who do not want to be part of this scheme. Why should I be fined £2,500 for not registering for an ID Card?

    You say that other European countries have ID cardss. Please could you tell me which ones have a National Identity Register with the scope of the one you are advocating. In Germany what you are proposing would be unconstitutional.

    You say that ID Cards will make us safer and more secure. How will fining me £2,500 for not having an ID Card make me either safer or secure or anyone else for that matter?

    I wish the issues would be addressed with real honesty but every time the Home Office opens its mouth on this subject it comes out with more implausible benefits for ID Cards.

    This reminds me so much of the Poll Tax. Thatcher will go to her grave thinking that the Poll Tax was great. I get the impression that the Labour Party will go its political grave not understanding why people object to being coerced into having an ID Card.

    ReplyDelete
  74. stephen; I have written 25 posts here (also about 100 of my comments in these threads) that explain in detail my views on the NIR and ID cards.

    But briefly, I agree that I am worried about the practicalities of the current govt scheme - will they waste millions on trying to achieve an impossible dream i.e. the largest IT scheme ever does seem too ambitious. But in terms of the info on the NIR and cards themselves I have no worries.

    I am not arguing two wrongs make a right, I am arguing that most people (including those at NO2ID) currently accept without any fuss the need for this info to already be out there in all sorts of organisations including use by the government - the NIR and ID cards just bring this info together and use it to make everyone's life safer and more efficient. It is just new technology that people are scared of. Think of all the innocent people who have been saved from long sentences due to DNA evidence or CCTV, think of how these things help catch criminals quicker and that improves all our lives. More info helps us all - and ID cards will make it harder for fraudsters and those who make use of false identities - that is an undeniable fact - as undeniable as putting better locks on your house deters burglars. I doesn't stop these crimes and ID cards will not stop fraudsters - but it will make it more difficult for them.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Neil - I work as a senior IT consultant and have worked on large governmental IT projects. I am not 'afraid' of technology but I have very strong issues both with the principle of ID Cards and the practical way that the government are going about implementing them. From a practical standpoint, the creation of a data citidal which centralises the index to all other databases is just really stupid. It is a central point of failure, it will be a hotpot for organised crime and terrorists. The myriad touchpoints to the database will make it less secure and it will have real risks for our security. Along with other security specialists, I believe this scheme will make us less secure rather than more secure. It will not make us 'safer' as you complacently assume. It will do the opposite.

    On the side of principle, I do not see the overwhelming case for coercing people into having an ID Card. It will foster a 'please show me your papers' society. It will exacerate racial tensions when hard core racists in the police state using 'stop and identify' powers to harrassment racial minorities.

    What you claim are 'undeniable facts' are highly deniable. Most identity related fraud is related to unattended credit card transactions, which ID Cards will be powerless to prevent. The sharing of information does not necessarily make us safer, especially when the government is relaxing the DPA for its own administrative convenience.
    You say ID Cards are much common sense as putting locks on your house. But if we pursue your analogy then the government would make it a criminal offence for not having a lock or the wrong sort of lock on your house.

    If ID Cards were the unalloyed good that you portray then you would be able to trust people to volunteer for them. The fact that you have threaten people with severe criminal sanctions get them to enrol shows that it is not for our benefit but for the adminsitrative convenence of the state.

    You seem to be as blinded as Thatcher was. I left your party over Iraq and ID Cards. I will certainly never vote for you again until your abandon this obsessive authoritarianism.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I think ID cards are beneficial in the way the smoking ban is.

    The smoking ban in public places will only happen if it is law and there are penalties yet it is overwhelmingly beneficial to everyone - ID cards if implemented properly would be the same - they need compulsion to work properly just as the smoking ban does.

    It seems very convenient that those who see practical problems with ID cards tend to also oppose it in principle. Are you sure your principles are not leading you to only look at the downside of ID cards.

    Would you agree that ID cards have brought benefits to Swedish society for instance (e.g. automatic payouts of benefits to vulnerable people who might otherwise not claim them)?

    ReplyDelete