07 March 2008

ID Cards Are the Ultimate Identity Theft

This piece by Ian Angell is the definitive rebuttal of the UK government's position on ID cards. It articulates all of my concerns, but puts it rather better than I could. Try this, for example:

Errors won't just happen by accident. It's possible to imagine that workers on the ID database will be corrupted, threatened or blackmailed into creating perfectly legal ID cards for international terrorists and criminals. Then the ID card, far from eliminating problems, will be a one-stop shop for identity fraud; foreign terrorists, illegal immigrants will be waived past all immigration checks.

That's the practical downside. But there's an even more profound philosophical one, too:

However, the ID card itself isn't the real problem: it's the ID register. There, each entry will eventually take on a legal status. In time, all other proofs of identity will refer back to the one entry. If the register is wrong - and remember fallible human hands will at some stage have to handle your personal information - then all other databases will be wrong too. Given the propensity of officialdom to trust the details on their computer screen, rather than the person in front of them, you will have to conform to your entry in the register - or become a non-person.

In effect, your identity won't reside in the living flesh and blood of you, but in the database. You will be separated from your identity; you will no longer own it. All your property and money will de facto belong to the database entry. You only have access to your property with the permission of the database. Paradoxically, you only agreed to register to protect yourself from “identity theft”, and instead you find yourself victim of the ultimate identity theft - the total loss of control over your identity.

Anybody who reads this and still wants ID cards is either a complete fool or a thoroughgoing knave. (Via Blogzilla.)


HISPANO said...

No systems are foolproof, but this is scary.

Glyn Moody said...

And that's putting it mildly....