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Australia Card - One Attorney-General Can't Be Wrong!
January 16, 2006 2:58 AM   Subscribe

Your papers please, komrade. Australian Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock is now determined to introduce a national ID card. He has gone on the record saying that it's not a matter of if it will be introduced but what information it will carry and how much it will cost the government. Given that recent "anti-terror" laws were recently rammed through parliament minus any debate one can only speculate when this will be rammed through and whether there will be any debate.
posted by Talez (58 comments total)

 
having lived in Japan as a registered alien for ~8 years, lemme just say that being /required/ to carry ID really flipping sucks and is a horrible affront to the basic human right to be let the fuck alone. That is all.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:21 AM on January 16, 2006


It's amazing what morticians can do these days.
posted by Ritchie at 3:47 AM on January 16, 2006


Who actually doesn't carry ID anyway, currently? My bet is less than one person in a thousand, outside of their own homes, is without ID. Everyone carries drivers' licenses, ATM cards, club membership cards, video store membership cards, Medicare cards, Social Security cards, etc etc. I probably have over a dozen cards in my wallet which have my name, or a number that, if the right database is asked, will link to my name. Arguably even keys are a form of ID, as you ID yourself to your house or car with your key. Mobile phones are almost ubiquitous enough to be ID, these days.

I am in favor of unified ID-ing, for a similar reason I liked the now-passe idea of the Microsoft web passport. It's a pain to have to keep track of multiply redundant identifiers. I'd like to only have to bother with one. Maybe two or three, if it suits me to keep a sub-identity for, say, commercial purposes, like a business name. Having to go through an annoying registration process with just about every freakin webpage I visit, if I want to download something or make some comment or even just see some content, is a total pain in the ass. So is the real-life equivalent, having to carry a folder full of cards everywhere.

Recently female friends of mine have been getting married, and many of them have been going through the process of changing their surnames. Some have been married for a couple of years and are still playing catch-up as bills, alumni associations, etc--anything that they want to stay registered with--send correspondence. If I ever marry, the decision to go through that tedious procedure or not would be up to my wife, but I'd make it clear to her that, in my opinion, it'd be far more trouble than any benefit gained. Just use my surname socially, and her own professionally and commercially. Anyway, ask any of these women if they could just change their surname in one place, and I expect the answer would be "yes please!".

For many years the drivers' license, from sheer practicality, has pretty much been universal ID. You show it to get into nightclubs, the video store will accept it if you've lost the card they issue you, you often have to leave it (or let the clerk photocopy it) to hire an item. People like myself whose names are relatively tedious to spell out often just show a license to store clerks so they can copy it down. To most intents and purposes--including being stopped by police, whether or not operating a car at the time--we already have a national ID card. It just requires a process totally unrelated to the ID function, namely driver skill certification, to get one.

To those who object, like Heywood Mogroot, I suggest to you that your objection isn't to the carrying of ID. I expect you already do carry ID, lots of it. It's being forced to present ID. That is where the problem lies, that problem already exists, and simplifying the nature of ID itself won't make that problem worse or better.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:53 AM on January 16, 2006


Spain has compulsory ID. Spain is great.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 4:14 AM on January 16, 2006


I would rather everyone had to carry Evolution instead.
posted by srboisvert at 4:18 AM on January 16, 2006


The problem is they are not trying to simplify the nature of ID, they are trying to universalize and enforce a concept of state identity - primarily to further marginalize undocumented immigrants, particular religions or racial groups, and the like.

To get any service at all - to get a job, to call emergency services if you are threatened with violence, to participate in society at all above board - you will need this ID. That's far different than needing it to buy beer or rent a movie.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:29 AM on January 16, 2006


You won't be asked for ID on the street if you are white.
posted by Wolof at 4:31 AM on January 16, 2006


Liberty is such a handily flexible notion, isn't it?
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:34 AM on January 16, 2006


PS -- to call emergency services if you are threatened with violence

No. Just no.
posted by Wolof at 4:34 AM on January 16, 2006


My main objections to this are that (a) a single ID card that suffices for all purposes is a much much worse thing to have hacked or stolen than any of the redundant forms of ID that I now use (b) Phillip Ruddock is behind it, so it's sure to be badly implemented and used mainly to oppress.

Non-Australians may not already know that Phillip Ruddock is actually Davros.
posted by flabdablet at 4:51 AM on January 16, 2006


You won't be asked for ID on the street if you are white.

Tell that to Hiibel.
posted by Gator at 5:00 AM on January 16, 2006


I don't have any specific objection to an identity card scheme, but being forced to carry it at all times is ridiculous.

Only yesterday, I had a couple of letters to post. I simply walked down the street to the postbox. I didn't bother checking I had my wallet with me first. Yet were it compulsary to carry ID at all times I would have been in violation of the law and I cannot accept that.
posted by bap98189 at 5:00 AM on January 16, 2006


Australia already has a nasty habit of mistakenly detaining its own residents in immigration detention centres, especially if they are mentally ill. How much worse will it be when people are unable to produce their papers ID card on demand?
posted by Meridian at 5:12 AM on January 16, 2006


Wow, Meridian, I hadn't heard about that, how awful.
posted by jamesonandwater at 5:19 AM on January 16, 2006


No what, Wolof? Undocumented immigrants in the US are often afraid to call the police, especially women.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:26 AM on January 16, 2006


Maybe we could save money by implementing this system in stages, starting with Muslims first. That would appeal to a large demographic of Australians and the international community wouldn't mind much.

:<
posted by mulligan at 5:45 AM on January 16, 2006


It gets worse. Read the very sad story of this woman deported from Australia after she was found suffering from head injuries due to an accident and was unable to produce he Australian passport, despite attempting to explain that she was an Australian citizen.
posted by Meridian at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2006


Australia already has a nasty habit of mistakenly detaining its own residents in immigration detention centres, especially if they are mentally ill.

Cornelia Rau was batshit crazy and was speaking German - despite being fluent in English. So the authorities thought she might have been, um, an immigrant. And what the hell were her *coff* loving family doing about it when she went AWOL?

Certainly popped out of the woodwork after the fact, haven't they? Can somebody say "juicy cash settlement"? I knew you could.

Look, there were f*ckups on the authority's side, sure. But don't make it out like the Oz Immigration Department hunts down loonies and locks them up. Christ.


How much worse will it be when people are unable to produce their papers ID card on demand?

If there was such a law in place then wouldn't that increase the likelihood of her plight being solved? Why assume it would make things "worse"?

Nice Nazi reference there too, ya drama queen.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:56 AM on January 16, 2006


The problem is they are not trying to simplify the nature of ID, they are trying to universalize and enforce a concept of state identity - primarily to further marginalize undocumented immigrants, particular religions or racial groups, and the like.

The technology of ID, the concept itself is not inherently evil. It can be put to evil use, but the same can be said of the computer, or the rifle. ID can also be put to good use. For example, a major simplification of the process of accessing government services, avoiding the delay inherent in proving identity and completing claim forms, will save the average client some hours of writing and of collecting things to bring back. Over millions of people, that's a significant saving in time and annoyance and errors.

I'm not going to argue for denying immigrants, "legal" or not, services. That's a stupid, immoral policy. John Howard's is a stupid, immoral government, voted in by stupid, immoral people. But the government department in charge of provision of services to immigrants, whether the policies that drive it be those of Howard or, say, those of Whitlam, is going to require some information be provided by those immigrants. "Who are you?" "Where are you living?" "How many of you are there?" Etc. The most generous possible government, for sheer logistical reasons, needs to know these things.

Unless you're trying to argue for complete anonymity of service provision, you are going to have to put up with the fact that your government, in order to give you services, needs to know who you are in order to keep track of what services you have received. I don't accept that anonymity of service provision is even viable, I don't trust my fellow Australians enough. They voted for John Howard four times, each time after he told a lie. Give Australian people a handle they can crank to get money out of their government, and no means of keeping track of whether any given handle-cranker gets a fair share, and the money would be gone within hours, into the pockets of the most dishonest, selfish class within Australian society: the upper middle class. Howard voters. Every one of them would be delighted to deny their neighbor a hundred dollars if there was a dollar in that denial for themselves.

I don't enjoy telling the same story over and over to separate government departments. I don't enjoy the idea that they don't believe me anyway, and cross-check all the stories I've told them, assiduously looking for mismatches. I don't see how a single database could fail to improve my interaction with governmental services. I believe this is true of the interactions of anyone not bent on fraud.

To put it another way, how much it's fair to give out to people, and what people it's fair to give it out to, is policy. Identification of people and recording of interactions is process. A good government would put the national ID database to good use. A bad government, as we currently have, would put it to the same bad uses that it already puts all the rest of our public institutions to.

To get any service at all - to get a job, to call emergency services if you are threatened with violence, to participate in society at all above board - you will need this ID. That's far different than needing it to buy beer or rent a movie.

To get a job, you do need to show ID currently. Unless it's cash-in-hand, and the employer who doesn't ask for your birth certificate and tax file number now isn't going to ask for your Australia Card then.

Emergency services at the present time identify callers' location primarily by telephone number lookup, and this will not change until a more effective way of locating (not identifying) callers is found.

Obviously any person who may suffer negative consequences from interaction with authorities will be reluctant to exercise their right--and it is a right--to use the services those authorities provide. That is a problem with the exercise of the powers involved. The reluctance of immigrant women to report sexual violence, for instance, has recently become an "issue of interest" to the New South Wales police force. Again, that's a policy problem. If people's actions have caused them to become afraid of calling the police, then what exactly are they doing, and why? I don't want to derail into an argument for, say, drug policy based on medical science rather than prurience and bad economics, but that's the kind of argument that needs to be had when addressing how government should protect and serve people.

If a fascist government has national ID, is it more of a problem that they are a fascist government, or that they have national ID? If a madman has a gun, is it more of a problem that he is a madman, or that he has a gun? In both cases, I prefer the first answer.

On preview: Meridian, both Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon were mistreated for two reasons. Firstly, because under the Howard government, mistreatment has become a core function of the Immigration department, in order to discourage non-business immigrants. That's one of the things I mean by "stupid and immoral". Secondly, at the core of both cases is the fact that these women weren't able to be easily identified. Rau for example actively resisted identification. She was mentally ill and presented a false identity. This is something mentally ill persons occasionally do, and if I ask myself the question "ought mentally ill persons be able to easily obscure their identities to police etc?" I am inclined to answer "no". I want law enforcement, including migration law enforcement, to have a clear process for identifying unknown persons. National ID would greatly aid this process.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:01 AM on January 16, 2006


It gets worse. Read the very sad story of this woman deported from Australia after she was found suffering from head injuries due to an accident and was unable to produce he Australian passport, despite attempting to explain that she was an Australian citizen.

Again. What were her family doing about it when she went missing? FFS, if it was my mum it would have been all worked out in 48 hours.

If you could provide me with any information on what her husband and sons did to locate her it would be much appreciated, Meridian. You seem to be the expert on this.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:05 AM on January 16, 2006


Great post, aeschenkarnos.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:09 AM on January 16, 2006


I'm torn on this. It's impossible not to agree with By The Grace of Good that universal ID would be used throw up even higher barriers between citizens and noncitizens.

But I also believe that ID should be a right rather than a privilege. It's basically impossible to access so many places and things these days without an ID, and people who are already on the edge of society, like the homeless, kids aging out of foster care, and newly released prisoners, often don't have IDs or the underlying documents they need to get an ID. Making ID compulsory and based on bioidentification rather than documents would go a long way to solving the problem for them.
posted by footnote at 6:10 AM on January 16, 2006


And if IDs were based on bioidentifiers, then presumably it would be much easier to identify unknown people like the mistakenly deported Australians.
posted by footnote at 6:15 AM on January 16, 2006


They're trying to push this in the UK as well.
Living here on a EU passport for the last 4 years, I am honestly divided on the idea of a mandatory ID...

Uncanny brings up the positive aspects of the ID, but I can not bring myself to see it as a purely altruistic device to help the processing of people through beaurocratic institutions.

I think the biggest outrage here is the pure cost and effort it will require to implement. For something that many believe is not worth the investment...

A few links:
At a time when all departments are tightening their belts, an unpopular project which, by the government's admission, will cost at least £5.8bn over its first 10 years seems a candidate for the chop. (Observer)

The highly biased no2id.com. (Which I find objectionable just by virtue of the horrible acronym URL.)

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has published a damning report on the introduction of biometric-based national ID cards in the UK. (via Security Document World.)

It's fascinating to watch the situation in Australia unfold and I'm interested to see if the results will affect policy here...
posted by slimepuppy at 6:29 AM on January 16, 2006


I have a feeling I could be persuaded by the notion of a national identity system, but the current idea of handing total control of your systematic existence to a manifestly underhanded and right-wing government is appalling.
Into this read the names "Britain" or "Australia".

aeschenkarnos - what an excellent post. Your open-mindedness is both encouraging and slightly frightening: seeing the threat through its veil but happy to hand it further power, regarding recent history as evidence but viewing future actions as somehow not shaped by it.
My closed-mindedness may be getting in the way, but there and now seems not to be the best time for such idealism and optimism.
Would you want to be there when someone gives that "madman" the gun?

(on preview)
I'm a fully signed up member of No2ID, I've paid my dues and I'll try to provide help if and when a national ID scheme is forced on citizens in the UK.
posted by NinjaPirate at 6:35 AM on January 16, 2006


Carrying an ID is no big deal. aeschenkarnos has made the point nicely. Get caught without it, you're liable to have to evidence it within a set time period and potentially pay a small fine, sort of like getting stopped driving and not having your license with you. A simple, single form of identification across all the states would be welcome in a similar way, if not as significantly as a trades certified Chippie in Victoria being able to work in Queensland.


Again, no big deal. Except when the physical ID takes on a larger meaning than the systems and processes behind it.

The systems are shambles and a bramble of overlapping and conflicting information on identity but it was the organisational culture that created the horrific and embarrassing scenario's examined in the Palmer Report.

The opportunity for abuse and neglect is there already in instances where Authorities feel they can evaluate your 'status'. They won't need a National ID (or lack there of) to drag you off.
posted by michswiss at 6:40 AM on January 16, 2006


aeschenkarnos, I'm a slow poster and made a variety of drafts before I hit enter (and didn't preview). You've said so much so well. I understand to some extent the mess around identity management.
posted by michswiss at 6:53 AM on January 16, 2006


Oh, and one last comment. Do you always carry 100 points of ID with you?
posted by michswiss at 6:55 AM on January 16, 2006


Cornelia Rau was batshit crazy and was speaking German - despite being fluent in English. So the authorities thought she might have been, um, an immigrant. And what the hell were her *coff* loving family doing about it when she went AWOL?

Speaking german is grounds for detention now? I don't know how any thinking person could belive your excuse. Pathetic.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 AM on January 16, 2006


Australia is such a shithole.
posted by delmoi at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2006


Speaking german is grounds for detention now?

You idiot.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:17 AM on January 16, 2006


“I suggest to you that your objection isn't to the carrying of ID. I expect you already do carry ID, lots of it. It's being forced to present ID.”
posted by aeschenkarnos

“Again, no big deal. Except when the physical ID takes on a larger meaning than the systems and processes behind it.” - posted by michswiss

It’s that “except” part that makes me nervous.
I don’t know how it is in Australia, but in the U.S. there would be some serious problems with the feds having that kind of juice. Here the drivers license is state issued. I am one of those “one in a thousand” people that doesn’t have an ID on them right now.
For various reasons. To my mind however having a unified ID would make things so much easier to counterfeit. Which I would do day one after the US instituted this kind of law.

Of course the real problem to me is - and again I say this in ignorance of Australian culture and politics so I apologize if I’m way off base - I saw Yahoo Serious at the end of some movie I was cable couch surfing on say: “What does a real man need with a gun?”

And I heard Oz gave up it’s gun rights a bit ago (2nd hand info).

That’s tangentially related to the slippery slope argument we have in the U.S.

In a nutshell (from the Treasure of the Sierra Madre)



“Give us your gun - and we’ll leave you in peace.”

It seems like a similar conundrum here - one more bit closer to totalitarianism.
(Conveniance notwithstanding - undoubtably having a very strong centralized bureaucracy would be very conveniant)

Also what bap98189 sed
posted by Smedleyman at 7:19 AM on January 16, 2006


I'd have to agree with delmoi. Also, most security experts agree that National ID cards are totally useless. Bruce Schneier has written several articles on the topic if I recall correctly.
posted by chunking express at 7:19 AM on January 16, 2006


Thanks for the compliments. *bows* :)

NinjaPirate: Your open-mindedness is both encouraging and slightly frightening: seeing the threat through its veil but happy to hand it further power, regarding recent history as evidence but viewing future actions as somehow not shaped by it.

I want us to have national ID. A card would be ideal because we already carry wallets, but it should be backed up by unloseable, non-document-form biometric identifiers, so that a person (alive or dead) can be identified in the absence of the card itself. I believe national ID would bring a near-universal significant social benefit.

For this reason I object to the concept of national ID being linked with fascism in the minds of the public. It's no more fascistic to have national ID than, say, the police being equipped with guns. I choose to believe we will wake up to ourselves as a society some day, and be rid of the ideologies that have led to Howard. I'm not a Marxist - about the "inevitability" of anything, Marx was dead wrong. Ideology is a fashion, it moves around on many axes. Things might get worse, and they might get better.

To put it another way, assume the worst contemporary fascist state you can think of implemented a national ID system. Even in that country, if a person is found unconscious in the street, they're probably going to be taken to hospital. If instead they're shot then and there, national ID didn't make that so. Now, the person is either out-group or in-group, and the default is in-group. The thing about fascist states that is so often overlooked is that they are not just about disdain for the rights of and mistreatment of the "out-group"; they also rely on the privileged treatment of the "in-group". "We loyal citizens are better than those rebellious, stealing minority." So, the in-group citizen is going to be identified, and his/her family notified.

Analogous situations exist for other miseries: if unemployed, the in-group citizen can claim benefits more easily. The out-group citizen (if they are citizens as such) probably wasn't going to get unemployment benefits anyway. So, even in a horrible fascist hellhole, the in-group citizen is not disadvantaged by national ID. The only members of the out-group who suffer more are those who are not recognizable as out-group members and could otherwise have passed as in-group. But what fascist state has ever demonized an out-group who were not easily identifiable? That's part of the point.

National ID makes being a fugitive from the law a lot harder. If the law being fled from is bad, this is not because of to the existence of national ID. One of the most immoral things the minions of the Howard government have done occurred recently, when the Federal Police became aware of the plan of a group of Australian citizens to smuggle some drug or other into Bali, Indonesia. Rather than arrest them in Australia, the Federal Police chose to tip off the Indonesian police and allow the travel, so that the smugglers would be arrested in Indonesia, where there is a death penalty for this utterly artificial crime. It is not coincidental that the smugglers involved (and generally) are almost all young Asian-race males. How would national ID have made this betrayal of Australian citizens any easier for the Howard government to do? Can you give any example, of any situation, where national ID might make some wrong act (ideally something they've actually done, but a hypothetical would do as well) more wrong, or even, make it easier to visit the wrong upon the undeserving?

Giving immigration officers national ID cards to look at won't make them any nastier to those without such cards than they presently are to those without passports. Ditto police, Centrelink staff, whatever. Again, it's the ends that are the problem, not the means.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:34 AM on January 16, 2006


Count me with those who don't see a tangible difference between a state issued photo id and a nationally issued photo id.

I am no more or less afraid of feds than I am of local redneck cops.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:45 AM on January 16, 2006


As this does not directly relate to Australia I apologise for the pseudo-derail.

Giving immigration officers national ID cards to look at won't make them any nastier to those without such cards.

And here in lies what I disagree with.

The EU has made your distinction of "out-group" and "in-group" a much less black and white issue. As a European citizen (Finnish, if it makes any difference) I'm allowed to work in any country within the EU. Here in the UK it's easy enough for me to start work and most places don't care if I have a National Insurance Number or not. It affects my taxation, so I applied for one and received it relatively quickly. Yes, I had to prove my indentity to receive one.

My job application process was not made more awkward by the fact that I'm foreign and as a matter of fact my nationality has not been questioned once during my time here in regards to study or work. (And now that I have a National Insurance Number, it is highly unlikely my nationality will ever be questioned or put to scrutiny in any future endeavours.)

Now, let's say there is a mandatory ID for all British nationals. This doesn't affect me as a Finnish citizen. I go for a job interview and they ask for my Biometric ID card. I can not produce one. You say that this won't affect how I am treated, but I say it will. It automatically places me in that "out-group" that has suddenly been created. I can produce a passport or other valid ID, but it still diffrentiates me from the rest of the people applying for the job.

Dunno, maybe I'm just being paranoid.
With the EU I believe a system like this just furthers the gap between the countries.

Sorry for the derail.
And as you can tell, this is based on my own experiences and feelings not hard facts, so please take it as such.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2006


I can't think of a case where a 100-points-of-ID requirement, using several different kinds of ID, has caused me more than half an hour's inconvenience.

I *like* that it's hard to get 100 points of ID together. There *should* be lots of hoops for identity fraudsters to jump through.

And if the proposed card won't be good enough for 100 points of ID, why bother with it at all?

Ruddock and Howard are undoubtedly going to try to sell this thing as an antiterrorist measure, and I'm tipping they'll wedge Bomber Beazley into getting behind it on that basis. Fsck knows what they actually want it for, because they're all surely smart enough to know that it won't be any use for that.

For me, it comes down to trust. Based on its past performance, I absolutely don't trust the current Government to do *any* of the right things with a centralized ID database, and I fully expect it to do *many* of the wrong things - it's sure to bugger up the implementation by trying to cut costs, for a start.

To fix Rau and Solon style screwups, a national ID card is total overkill. All we need there is a national Missing Persons register. It boggles my mind that we don't already have one of those.
posted by flabdablet at 8:07 AM on January 16, 2006


Non-Australians might not be familiar with Philip Ruddock's long history of xenophobia, particularly his Pacific Solution.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:11 AM on January 16, 2006


Fandango_matt... holy shit...
That's intense stuff. Made worse by the fact that Nauru in Finnish translates to "laughter".
posted by slimepuppy at 8:17 AM on January 16, 2006


I believe national ID would bring a near-universal significant social benefit.
I don't share your optimism. Care to quantify that? How much benefit, and at what cost?
posted by flabdablet at 8:19 AM on January 16, 2006


So at what point in this slide toward Universal ID are the Christian fundamentalists finally going to freak out and declare it the Mark of the Beast?
posted by MasonDixon at 8:36 AM on January 16, 2006


My concern with ID is not the concept that you have to prove who you are, but more that this piece of plastic (and the biometrics it is attached to) are a sure-fire perfect way to do so. We've seen that thumbprints can be forged, and the electronic signature of your iris-scan, once stolen, can be replicated easily enough

With biometric tracking 'innocent until proven guilty' becomes 'innocent until you can prove that the person who opened the safe door with your thumbprint wasn't you'.

Most people still have perfect faith in biometrics, so pursuading the ordinary copper otherwise will be almost impossible. Of course, once the falibility of biometrics is out in the open, they will be next to useless, and ID cards will be a £5.8bn dead duck.
posted by flameproof at 8:39 AM on January 16, 2006


Just at the end of last year, the Liberal Democrat and Conservative peers in the House of Lords (the "upper house" of British politics) vowed to remove from current proposals any requirement to submit to an ID card in order to get a new passport or renew their existing one. At the moment the law would entail that anyone not signed up to this "voluntary" ID scheme would be under island arrest.

On Friday, a story was released about an answer to a parliamentary question to the Department of Constitutional Affairs. The department was asked what use would be made of the electoral register in the introduction of ID cards, implying that a list would be established of those as yet un-IDd in this "voluntary" scheme. The government department instead answered an unasked question about how ID cards would help verify the electoral register. They didn't, as is so standard, accuse the opposition of scaremongering and unreasonable implication, they swept any inquiry in a tide of official waffle.

At the beginning of this process when the former Home Secretary was pressing for a compulsary scheme, the cabinet refused, instead recommending that the the plan should "proceed by incremental steps to build a base for a compulsory national ID card scheme". The "voluntary" aspect of this grows thinner the more it's rubbed.

The whole deep-thinking, lots of consultation, conversation with the people appearance is a veneer behind which a grinding process continues unabated. I can't bring myself to trust it in the slightest and, dangerous or not on it's own, a national identity scheme in the hands of this Government is a very powerful tool. They are not nearly responsible enough to have it nodded through the gates of Troy.
posted by NinjaPirate at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2006


flameproof - how do you proove who you are enough to get an ID card in the first place? You show up with the same documents as for a passport and sit in front of the biometric scanner.

It sounds as though the new process to become someone you aren't goes as follows
1) do what you did before to get all the old pieces of paper
2) sit in front of a machine
3) use your new, infallible proof of identity
posted by NinjaPirate at 8:56 AM on January 16, 2006


NinjaPirate- that's identity theft, which whilst awful is not being framed for serious crime. The argument the UK Gov't is giving for your point is that there will be a centralised database - if there is a Mr N. Pirate on their database with two different Iris-scans they'll be able to investigate further. However, a central database just gives hackers an easier way to get hold of your scan's details and use it to frame you (or anyone else; it's unlikely they'll care who they pin it on) for something more serious.
posted by flameproof at 9:07 AM on January 16, 2006


I hope this never happens where I live. I don't cooperate with the census, and I am supposed to let them scan my freaking eyes, or keep my prints on file?

It used to be only criminals lost that sort of freedom.
posted by thirteen at 9:09 AM on January 16, 2006


Uncanny Hengeman is one of those who doesn't understand the issues and, as they are ethical issues at the core, has no ability to understand the issues. If you don't get it now you never will. Unfortunately the ignorance doesn't extend to computer use.

Fall in behind and march in time.
posted by figment at 12:25 PM on January 16, 2006


coincidentally...

the Guardian | Lords deal blow to ID cards
posted by flameproof at 12:47 PM on January 16, 2006


It's about safety nets UncannyHingehead - we probably only know about those that do have family - what about those that don't?

Having processes in place to properly consider an individual's status would have identified Cornelia Rau as being episodal - instead of simplifying it based on language alone and incarcerating her as an illegal immigrant. Your breakdown of the 'facts' in this particular matter are simplistic in the extreme.

...the recalcitrant remain locked up until they co-operate, forever if necessary.

posted by strawberryviagra at 1:02 PM on January 16, 2006


Count me with those who don't see a tangible difference between a state issued photo id and a nationally issued photo id.

As long I don't have to carry it everywhere or show it for any other reason than transactions *I* choose to engage in, as long as I'm able to control whether or not non-governmental institutions I deal with can record the unique number inevitably associated with it, as long as government institutions never require me to show it other than when I'm involved in activities that must be licensed an regulated by the state, and as long as those activities don't include walking and riding in a car and sitting in my kitchen minding my own damn business, sure, I'll agree.
posted by namespan at 1:16 PM on January 16, 2006


The timeline:
1) Require a Universal ID.

2) Make it a crime to be without your universal ID. (This becomes the fall-back criminal charge when other charges don't stick.)

3) It will become too tempting to tie all information collected on you together - to that ID.

4) The database will be kept private, except in exceptional circumstances. The definition of "exceptional" will be relaxed gradually.

5) It will become a crime to falsify information you give out about yourself and it will be an easy crime to detect. (Another fine opportunity for fall-back criminal charges.)

6) The criminal investigation procedure will change from "see specific crime committed -> investigate suspects -> catch specific criminal" TO "go on fishing expedition in database" -> select most likely candidates for criminal charges -> lay charges -> use fallback of falsification, if necessary."

I don't think many people want to live in a stage 6 country because, by then, we will all be criminals. Yet, each of these small steps can be justified by it's efficiency benefits.

I realize this is a "slippery slope" argument and such arguments can usually be answered with "It's not slippery. We'll stop when we get here." Well, where could you successfully draw a line to prevent the slide and get the "I've got nothing to hid" crowd to agree with you?
posted by mediaddict at 2:34 PM on January 16, 2006


I'm not all for a national ID card. But I am not convinced by the paint-by-numbers fear mongering and Nazi Germany analogies that are going on either.

Some politicians are focusing on the anti-terrorism benefits of a national ID card. I'm not so sure if it's going to help too much in that regard, but I like the idea of the administrative benefits that have well and truly been explained by MeFites above.

"Lost rights are never regained by appeals to the conscience of the usurpers, but by relentless struggle." - B.R. Ambedkar (or about 20 other similar quotes I could have chosen)

My only fear is that once we give up this "right" of not having to carry a national ID card, then it's gonna be pretty darn hard to reverse the situation if the system is abused.

But I don't think it will be abused.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:20 PM on January 16, 2006


…the Federal Police became aware of the plan of a group of Australian citizens to smuggle some drug or other into Bali, Indonesia. Rather than arrest them in Australia, the Federal Police chose to tip off the Indonesian police and allow the travel, so that the smugglers would be arrested in Indonesia, where there is a death penalty for this utterly artificial crime.

The truly sickening thing about this is there is a law or statute somewhere that states that Australian authorities are not to co-operate with other nations where it will result in the death penalty for an Oz citizen. I don't know how the police involved can sleep at night.

It is not coincidental that the smugglers involved (and generally) are almost all young Asian-race males.

Huh? I thought there were only 2 Asians - and 7 "Skips" - arrested in the case you describe.


It's about safety nets UncannyHingehead - we probably only know about those that do have family - what about those that don't?

Then it's an bloody outrage. And how 'bout rallying behind them, instead of someone like Cornelia Rau - where there's about a half dozen extenuating factors that caused her to slip thru the cracks? Stop being so lazy.


Uncanny Hengeman is one of those who doesn't understand the issues and, as they are ethical issues at the core, has no ability to understand the issues. If you don't get it now you never will.

Crikey!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:25 PM on January 16, 2006


The argument that national, universal ID would streamline the provision of social services sounds a little bit hollow given that Phil Ruddock is the Attorney-General. Not the health minister. Not the social security minister. Not even the immigration minister anymore.
posted by Ritchie at 5:42 PM on January 16, 2006


(follow up on the UK ID cards)

Ministers say they will press ahead with plans to introduce ID cards, despite three defeats in the House of Lords on Monday evening.

Peers voted to block the scheme until its full costs were known.

They also voted for more security provisions, and for more controls on who can access the data.


They're hell-bent on getting the ID approved, even though they refuse to actually tell anyone how much the bloody thing is going to end up costing...
posted by slimepuppy at 4:17 AM on January 17, 2006


However, as new Conservative leader, David Cameron, has called the idea of ID cards "un-British", there may be the most unlikely of civil-liberty white knights - caring conservatism. (!)

With Conservative, Lib Dem and Labour malcontents voting against the proposals in the House of Commons it may well never get back to the Lords in its current form.

Even if these ID schemes are unpalatable, at least they make for interesting sport.
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:30 AM on January 17, 2006


Yes, Uncanny I do apologise for being so far over the top and unfair.
I'm finding the actions of this government are increasingly distressing and it's even worse to realise that most people continue in deliberate ignorance or support it. Sickening. Anyway, comment was out of line.
posted by figment at 5:42 PM on January 18, 2006


Yes, Uncanny I do apologise for being so far over the top and unfair.

That's kewl. (er, you takin' the piss?!)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:17 PM on January 18, 2006


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