With Gordon Brown’s latest announcement on ID cards, you might be forgiven for believing the spin that the issue had ended. Sam Morris of the Exeter branch of No2ID, who’s been making headway on the ID issue with Exeter City Council and Devon County Councils, explains more about the No2ID campaign
No2ID is a national single issue awareness group focused on the dangers of biometric ID cards and the National Identity Register (NIR), which is the real issue at stake.
The cards will not do what they set out to do (the two main stated aims are to reduce terrorism and ID theft). Almost all acts of terrorism are perpetrated by residents of the country – the 7/7 bombers could have perfectly legally carried ID cards.
Also, there is no piece of ID anywhere in the world that cannot be faked, and is which is not hugely profitable on the black market. The ID card scheme, in fact, gives more incentives to identity thieves to commit crime.
On a more emotional tone, the cards and NIR fundamentally change the relationship between the state and citizen. Before, the state has always existed with the agreement of the people. With the ID scheme being used to administer council services, benefits, medical services etc, the relationship changes to one of the citizen justifying their existence to the state on demand. And having to pay for the privilege. This is about civil liberties, and they are important.
So what is No2ID doing about it? The local groups are raising awareness at a grassroots level, gaining support from local people. Many groups have also put forward motions that have then been passed by local councils to the affect that councils will adopt a policy of non-compliance, wherever legal, with the ID and NIR plans. This means not needing to be on the register to access council services, not taking part in pilot schemes, voluntary distribution, and all the other ways the cards and NIR are being forced into the public domain.
Some people might say: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” A more accurate phrase would be: “If you have nothing to hide, if your details are entered correctly, if nobody can bribe a civil servant, if the software stands up to hackers, if people are trained to use the system properly, if the government doesn’t lose any (more) of your data etc etc etc, THEN you have nothing to fear.” That’s a pretty tall order for something as valuable as someone’s identity.
If you want to help, or find out more about the issues surrounding the ID debate, join your local No2ID group, or look at the No2ID website, where you’ll also find contact details for groups around the country, see just which councils have stood up against the scheme, and see the latest movements in the campaign.
For more details, contact Sam Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Will ID cards add to, or undermine, security? Comments below, please.