I tend to keep my head below the trenches, but this has got to be hypocritical
when I’m asking other people to write to their MPs. So I’ve started writing to
mine. The first missive she’s received so far is to do with the ID card
consultation process, and went via the web to fax gateway.
I remain unconvinced that the introduction even of technically voluntary ID cards will lead to the benefits claimed by the Government. I particularly fear that suspicion will fall on those who do not carry the cards, rendering their voluntary nature meaningless; it is to be expected that once the generality of persons in the UK have such cards the inconvenience cost of not having one will be sufficiently great as to compel all but the most unreasonably diehard privacy obsessives to adopt them as well. The sense in which I hold such cards to "invade" privacy, and I concede that "invade" is an unfortunately loaded term, is that they will reduce the cost of ross-correlating information about individuals and groups. It has always been possible for the sufficiently determined and well-funded to gather information about people; I believe that what is at stake here is the expense associated with such information gathering, and that this expense will be substantially decreased by the increased standardisation and centralisation of identity information about individual people. Currently, this economic barrier is an important protection for the privacy of the individual and the availability of a private sphere in which one may conduct aspects of one's life without the judgmental eyes of strangers bearing down upon one. The availability of such a private sphere ought to be secured in any society which respects the autonomy and dignity of individual human beings, and should be privileged against unjustified intrusions; such an idea is reflected in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and finds its source (ironically) in the common law traditions of our own society here in the UK. To the extent that the economic barrier protects the private sphere in a manner justifiable in terms of the respect society should accord to individual humans, it should not be undermined by schemes such as the proposed ID card scheme, which I therefore oppose.
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