Richard Thomas, the Information Commissioner has expressed “increasing alarm” at the govt’s planned ID card scheme:
Plans for a national ID card scheme risk changing the relationship between the British state and its citizens, the information watchdog has warned.
Richard Thomas said he had initially greeted the plans with “healthy scepticism” but the details had changed his view to “increasing alarm”.
One cogent point Thomas makes is that the scheme is not just about handing out cards to the population but about creating a detailed centralised database on every person in the country:
Mr Thomas told the MPs: “This is beginning to represent a really significant sea change in the relationship between state and every individual in this country.”
It was now clear the scheme was not just about identity cards but about a national identity register, he said.
“It is not just about citizens having a piece of plastic to identify themselves.
“It’s about the amount, the nature of the information held about every citizen and how that’s going to be used in a wide range of activities.”
Quite. The scheme is about creating the necessary apparatus for the government to keep tabs on us 24/7. And the government certainly seems keen on creating detailed databases of all and sundry when legislating in other policy areas.
Furthermore they seem keen on using blanket surveillance of the public’s movements simply to introduce road charges:
The most radical vision for road pricing would see a satellite tracking-based system, with drivers charged variable rates per mile depending on how busy the route they used was.
They also back another blanket surveillance system for tackling drivers who drive away from petrol stations without paying:
For the stream of shoppers driving into the supermarket petrol station just outside Bradford, the CCTV camera has been such a familiar sight it may as well have been invisible.
But from this month, it is not just fuel-dodgers who the camera is there to monitor; up to 3,000 number plates an hour from the forecourt will now be fed into a police database.
This government clearly loves blanket surveillance of the public’s doings (especially if linked into a database), and this extends to plans for recording who you phone, who you email, what websites you visit, and who phones/emails you or visits your website for a year for the authorities to be able to trawl.
Big Blunkett is watching you…