Today Meg Hillier, the minister in charge of the ID cards programme, came to Cambridge for discussions on the scheme with local business and civic leaders.
Her visit received a ‘welcoming committee’ of NO2ID activists, who staked out two of the main entrances to Jesus College.
However, while applying for a passport or other designated documents remains voluntary, entry on the National Identity Register is NOT.
You will be obliged to travel at your own expense to your nearest interrogation centre for intrusive questioning. You will have your details placed on the Register whether or not you want them to be.
Every time you use your card this will be recorded on the National Identity Register and used to build up a complete dossier of your life and movements, including sensitive information such as hospital visits.
If you object to any of this you will be fined.
ID Cards style technology is already being trialled by the UK Passports Office.
There is also a proposed ‘voluntary’ pilot scheme for full time students.
I wonder what bribes they will use to coax sceptical students onto their register?
After all, many Higher Education students ALREADY have Campus access swipe cards, so why would they want another one?
To claim ID Cards are a ‘voluntary’ scheme when clearly they’re not is Orwellian doublespeak at its ‘best’, all the more insulting when leaked documents concerning the scheme speak very clearly of ‘coercion’.
It also ignores the fact that the problem isn’t with the cards themselves, but with the intrusive database and audit trail behind them, which will be far more extensive than the current passport database.
Ms Hillier’s bland reassurances about data security ring very hollow in the light of regular data security breaches from government departments and contractors, the latest being the loss of sensitive payroll database details by a Hertfordshire NHS trusts agency.
It’s no surprise that a recent UK survey revealed that only one in ten adults trust the government with their personal data; Ms Hillier cannot expect us to surrender even more of it. Also, recent polls show that opposition to the scheme is hardening, and many organisations and councils, including Cambridge, have already passed motions against the ID cards scheme.
Her assertion in today’s interview that the reason ID cards couldn’t be provided free (as the recent Crosby Report suggested, which the government has chosen to ignore all ten recommendations from), because it would be a burden to the taxpayer, is laughable given the spiralling costs of the scheme and the government’s appalling record in implementing large-scale IT projects on time and to budget.
The business and community leaders Ms Hillier met with today would do well to remember this when she tried to convince them of the ‘practical applications’ of what are effectively Soviet-style internal passports.
The Home Office claim that ID Cards would help in the fight against identity theft, but this scheme is the biggest identity theft of all.
Ms Hillier, please stop defending the indefensible.
Also interesting to note that in the hour and a half activists were at Jesus College, only about eight people who entered the campus admitted to going to this meeting, while there were at least 15 – 20 NO2ID activists who turned up at very short notice.
It would seem on the face of it that the ‘nayes’ had it today!
There seemed to be more NO2ID activists today than supporters of ID Cards!