17 november 2008

Why we should oppose the introduction of ID cards (Vincent De Roeck)

The European Liberal Youth (LYMEC) urges the British government to take the following remarks regarding the proposed introduction of ID cards in Britain in consideration, and to consign the Identity Cards Act of 2006 to the dustbin of history as it has consigned other measures that stifled the human rights and civil liberties of the British people.

- The total costs of this measure over the next ten years will exceed 5.4 billion British Pounds. (1) The London School of Economics even predicted (2) a total cost of 12 to 18 billion British Pounds. Either way, this is an intolerable amount of taxpayers’ money to be spent on a single measure.

- The British plan for a national ID card attributes unchecked executive powers to the government. (3) Citizens of the United Kingdom are not sufficiently protected against the arbitrary additions of more and more personal data to the ID cards in the future, since the 2006 Identity Cards Act (4) provides the government with this possibility. The final scope of the scheme will undoubtedly be much greater than the initial proposition - with among others the lingering expansion of the scheme by adding biometric data and fingerprints.

- A recent survey (5) conducted by The Daily Telegraph newspaper showed clearly that 78% of the British population did not like the prospect of having their data recorded, that only 11% believed the government could be trusted in keeping the data confidential, and that even 4% of the citizens would be willing to endure a long prison sentence rather than having to carry the ID card.

- Acts of terrorism have not been avoided in countries with mandatory ID cards either, and in general, the crime rates of ID carrying countries have not been higher or lower than those of the UK. The argument of enhanced homeland security is incorrect and irrelevant.

- The British Information Commissioner, Mr. Richard Thomas, stated in The Times newspaper (6) that the introduction of ID cards raises substantial data protection and privacy concerns, including the facilitation of identity theft and other abuses of the data by third parties. His anxiety that Britain is sleepwalking into a surveillance society is real and the rise of a Big Brother state is intolerable.

- The ID card creates specific new threats to individuals. (7) Adding religious or ethnic details to the register may inflict discrimination. Introducing such a complex administrative system makes citizens totally dependent of the accuracy of the register and the overall reliability of the system can never be guaranteed. Citizens of a free society should at all times be regarded as free individuals, not because they possess a piece of paper issued by a government quango, but because of their nature as citizens.

- And finally, let us remind ourselves the words of Jacob Hornberger (8), founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, in a recent article on a similar civil liberties issue in the United States. “As people who have lost their liberty at the hands of their own government throughout history have discovered, once the surrender of rights has begun, the march towards tyranny becomes inexorable.”

Notes and references of the author:

(1) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6033687.stm
(2) http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/pressAndInformationOffice/archives/2005/IDCard_FinalReport.htm
(3) http://www.no2id.net/IDSchemes/whyNot.php#5
(4) http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060015_en_1
(5) http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/TEL060101024_4.pdf
(6) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article470264.ece
(7) http://www.no2id.net/IDSchemes/whyNot.php#6
(8) http://www.lewrockwell.com/hornberger/hornberger11.html


This resolution is written by Vincent De Roeck and will be introduced by the Liberal Flemish Students Organization (LVSV) to the Executive Committee of LYMEC at their Brussels congress in November 2008.

16 Comments:

At 17/11/08 11:01, Anonymous Larry Hayes (op Libertarian.be) said...

Vincent, I know a number of my fellow Brits here were not at all keen on the idea of national identity cards, and even less keen on the use of biometrics and the back-end database of all people who paid for cards. I believe it's an expensive unworkable plan with an alarming amount of personal data held on a shared database, with access permitted to many organisations I would not like to see accessing my data.

There's a pledge running right now, organized by the NO2ID campaign. The following is the pledge text: "I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge."

If you're a UK citizen or resident, I'd like you to consider signing up at http://www.pledgebank.com/refuse. Over 4,000 people have already signed up. I'm one of them.

 
At 17/11/08 11:02, Anonymous Brandon F. (op Libertarian.be) said...

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1626768.ece

According to The Times newspaper, over 15 million Brits will boycott the ID Cards Act being implemented in the UK. And nearly 1 million Brits is believed to have ordered a new passport in the weeks before May 2006 to avoid having the new ID card in 2008 because their 'old' passports would still be valid for a longer time.

 
At 17/11/08 15:04, Anonymous Tomaz said...

Vincent, as you know, I'm a UK passport holder living in Sark married to a Sark passport holder. I do not pay UK tax or receive UK services yet presumablely I will have to travel to the UK for my biometrics test when I want a new passport and be expected to carry the thing when in the UK on business. My wife and the tens of other Sark passport holders are in even more awkward positions in that they hold what is essentially a British passport but if port controls start expecting biometrics of British passport holders the Sark passport will become distinctly second class.

 
At 17/11/08 15:42, Anonymous Anoniem said...

The West is lost. After the US and Britain, nothing is left anymore. Ron Paul RIP.

 
At 18/11/08 19:37, Anonymous Titmarsh said...

This is bullshit. Fetishism. Negative fetishism, by investing magical power and irrational emotion, say fear, in an object which is after all just a piece of paper. Just like the Union Jack is but a bit of cloth. A piece of paper with a terribly limited amount of information: your name (but plenty of people know your name already and it's all over the place in other documents), maybe your address (known again by so many instances and people who have been in contact with you and vice versa), your photograph (showing a face which thousands will see the moment you leave your house) and a number or code to make sure your identity card isn't counterfeit. This bit of paper will come in handy when the occasion arrives (by your own choice most of the time) when proving your identity will help you to get what you want (a loan, money from your bank, a car you intend to rent, a marriage certificate ...). Of course you may own other documents which prove your identity (your driving licence ...) but if you don't mind having and showing those, why mind having and showing your identity card? And if you mind having and showing an identity card, why not set up a movement to abolish all other documents documenting your existence and identity?

 
At 19/11/08 05:22, Anonymous Marc Huybrechts said...

I agree with Titmarsh.

The ID card is about (1) efficiency in government and also about (2) clarity and transparancy.

The executive powers of the government ought to be checked by parliament and the judiciary, and democracy is not threatened by bits of paper. Democracy and freedom ultimately depend on the moral character of the citizens, or the 'culture' if you will, because that will determine the quality of the people sent to the Executive, to parliament and to the judiciary.

 
At 20/11/08 10:44, Anonymous traveller said...

The ID card, used as such, is no problem. The thinking behind it though is a very serious problem. The European thinking goes to using the ID card as bank card for all banking transactions and as credit/debit card. That my friends is a disaster and the ultimate weapon of individual massive destruction.

 
At 20/11/08 11:30, Anonymous Köttbullar said...

@traveller:
1. Who and what do you mean by 'European thinking' ? Please be exact. Otherwise you look like a fuzzy thinker and your statement won't be taken seriously.
2. What does 'the ultimate weapon of individual massive destruction' mean? It sounds impressive, dramatic and McCainish, my friends, but that's all. Again, be exact. Innuendo won't work. Vague whipped up emotion won't convince. What we need is real information. For thrills we've got the Sun and the Daily Mail already.

 
At 20/11/08 12:03, Anonymous traveller said...

@ Köttbullar

OK, I just left something for your own brains.
European thinking: all European countries started to change their ID cards approx. at the same time. The UK started talking about introducing ID cards at the same time. In Belgium we have already electronically readable ID cards, exactly like credit cards. My own banker told me that the idea was to introduce the ID card as general pay-instrument.

Ultimate weapon:
What do you think the I.R.S in different countries are going to find on your ID read out?
They will know the slightest trip you took, money you spent, bank account you have anywhere, places where you stayed etc. etc.
Personal freedom??? Zero

 
At 20/11/08 19:22, Anonymous Marc Huybrechts said...

@ Traveller

1) On the one hand I 'sympathise' with you, because someone called you "McCainish". The use of that word, supported by recent events, suggests that the great majority of Europeans (and for the moment a slight majority of Americans) prefer messianic woollyness over a 'proven' product.

2) On the other hand, I think you are confusing "freedom" with "illegality". Unless you believe that parliament does not have the right to make the tax laws, why do you care if your ID card can be a general pay-instrument? Of course, the tax law should stipulate clearly that payment information can only be used for determining tax compliance, and not for any other purpose. I understand that you don't want them to enlighten your wife on your spending habits!? I am pretty sure that she already 'knows'.

 
At 20/11/08 19:40, Anonymous traveller said...

@ Marc Huybrechts

HAHA, she knows, don't worry.

I have been attacked by non-financial authorities, spreading my files in other countries to prove that I am "unfit" for something their friends were eyeing. This was supplied by Belgian embassies to foreign banks!!!
There was even a Belgian diplomat who visited a private foreign company to convince them not to give me their support. I found out those things by finding papers which could only come from one source.

You have no idea how devious Big Brother can be.

 
At 20/11/08 20:07, Anonymous Marc Huybrechts said...

@ traveller

Perhaps you are right and I am hopelessly naive and idealistic. Obviously, both 'civil servants' and 'businessmen' can be devious.

Could you agree with ID cards as general payment instrument if businesses do not get taxed, but only 'consumption'? And, of course, the abuse of the tax law, or any law for that matter, cannot be used as an argument against the law itself. The deviousness of Big Brother, of human nature itself, is an argument for simplicity and transparency in the law.

 
At 20/11/08 22:06, Anonymous traveller said...

@ Marc Huybrechts

I am for total openness in everything if it is open. That's my problem, the "powers that be" are not open, they are completely geared up to defend themselves at all costs.
That's why I don't trust them with my privacy. If I could trust them, I would have no problem with an ID/Creditcard. I just don't trust them for nothing. And now be serious yourself: you are not that naive that you shouldn't know that.

 
At 20/11/08 23:15, Anonymous Köttbullar said...

@Traveller
'My own banker told me that the idea was to introduce the ID card as general pay-instrument.'
1. And your banker is Barroso's brother or what?
2. Are you and 500 million Europeans going to be obliged to use nothing but our ID cards as 'payment instruments' ? Looks awfully unlikely. Are Mastercard, Visa and all the banks offering credit and debet cards just lie down and let this pass?
This simply looks like paranoia, but please have fun, we all need a bit of excitement once in a while.

 
At 21/11/08 09:05, Anonymous traveller said...

@ Kötbullar

You think that it is difficult to have a Mastercard code in an ID card?
Anyway, wait and see.

 
At 21/11/08 10:08, Anonymous Köttbullar said...

@Traveller:
I've never said it would be difficult to have a Mastercard code on an ID card. That's what you try to talk about and it isn't the point.
What I'm trying to get across is that it is unlikely that the European instances would manage to herd 500 millions of citizens and a number of huge globalized firms into accepting one single ID card as the one and only vehicle for all their financial transactions. It simply isn't in their interest. And political Europe is too divided, powerless and bureaucratic to impose this. But of course you use this frightful view of a Big Brother future to make believable your abhorrence of the generalized use of a bit of paper in Britain now. Nice try, but not good enough.

 

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