I don't want an "entitlement card"

Content is copyright © 2003 Matthew Astley

$Id: id-cards.html,v 1.2 2003/01/31 03:04:28 mca1001 Exp $

I finally got around to writing a response to the Home Office "consultation" on entitlement cards. It struck me as one of those futile exercises that one must do anyway. If this seems cynical, even jaded, then that is probably because I do my best to be sufficiently cynical, and have grown jaded trying. 8-)

Stand has an interesting set of questions and cynical answers on the matter.

Anyway, I saved the preview copy for your amusement. I've removed my address and the submit buttons, and fixed the HTML markup. As ever, please use your own words if you're going to write to your MP. They might an impression.

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Step 3 - Preview Your Response, Then Send It In


Entitlement Cards Unit
Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate

Friday 31 January 2003

Matthew Astley
[my address witheld from the public copy]
Dear Big Brother,

I do not believe your ID card scheme is a good idea, and I am aware that you do not value my reasons for this belief. Therefore at the bottom of this letter I offer a reason why it is not in your interest either to make such a database.

I find your attempt to force the general population into accepting ID cards underhanded, unfair and dangerous.

Underhanded because there will be no attempt to educate people about what else an ID card can do, apart from "entitle" one to various services.

Unfair because it is obvious to me that some already-chosen consortium will be written a blank cheque by us taxpayers. It looks like I will be paying them something in the region of £30 - £100 for something I don't want, and will do my futile best to avoid using. Am I paying per year? per card? per change of address? That such a large cost has been admitted up front surprises me. Given what can be accomplished with modern creative accounting practices, I have no reason to believe the true cost will ever be widely known.

Dangerous because of the power delivered to those in control of the database that stores my details, to those who issue the cards and the organised criminals who will doubtless succeed in forging them.

What will happen to me if my card is lost or stolen?

What will happen to me if you decide to delete me from the database or revoke my card, and how will you compensate my estate when it turns out years later to have been a mistake?

What will happen to the various (rich | ethnic | left wing | rehabilitated criminal) minorities when the database is leaked to the (press | criminal underworld | foreign intelligence services) or inherited by some new government that we all immediately regret electing? Please don't imagine that the database will not hold such data; it is in the nature of primary keys in databases that they acquire extra information as and when it can be aligned. Databases are the life-blood of marketing departments everywhere, for this very reason.

I apologise for the late submission. I have no doubt that you will press ahead with your plan anyway, in order get ahead with some European unification plan. My admittedly limited experience of trying to talk to my government has lead me to believe that it is pointless: I place my vote, and you go ahead and do your own thing.

If you don't care about my views and believe nobody will use the database to wage war on the public, then have a care for your customs officers and drugs squads.

Please visit http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,41206,00.html and read about "The Technology Secrets of Cocaine Inc.",
Colombian cartels have spent billions of dollars to build one of the world's most sophisticated IT infrastructures. It's helping them smuggle more dope than ever before.

Now imagine how difficult it wouldn't be to extract from your new database the home addresses of all the people who stand on the front line against drug smugglers.

Please don't open this box. Its contents have not been thoroughly discussed, and our political arena for evaluating these issues is too immature and closed to come to a correct decision.

Yours sincerely,

Matthew Astley