Letter to Shadow Home Secretary on ID Cards

I've just written to David Davies MP, let's see what response he gives.

Mr. David Davies, MP
House of Commons

Thursday, 28 October 2004

Dear Mr. Davies,

With regard to ID cards, on the BBC website you say:

'"If these criteria can be met without sacrificing civil liberties they should be introduced soon - not in 10 years time. The terrorist threat is real and is here today."'


This is merely echoing the government's line without much critical reasoning. Yet as far as I know not ONCE has anyone said exactly how the ID card will help fight terrorism. The Madrid bombers and the IRA all were in the country legally. The spectre of terrorism is a straw man argument as it rather assumes that we know in advance who the terrorists are.

It has also been said that the ID card will help prevent benefit frauds - if this is the case, why does it not pay for itself?

It has no added benefit to the individual. It won't do what it claims to do. In effect, it is an extra tax - one which the conservatives, as the current opposition, and a party which claims to value a lower tax economy, should be opposing.

The idea seems one that is fraught with difficulties. The UK government does not have a good history of implementing large secure systems. Witness the passports debacle of a few years ago. With one über-database there will be much difficulty when the inevitable mistakes happen. If, as will happen, someone is labelled as a convicted paedophile, it will be incredibly difficult to undo this – the authoritative database says it is so, therefore it must be true.

ID cards are also liable to lead to a false sense of security, which can be more dangerous than no security at all.

Bruce Schneier, a well known and respected security consultant based in the US, recently wrote cogently for United Press International about security issues relevant to the World Series:

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2004/10/world_series_se.html "ID checks don't make sense. Everyone has an ID. Even the 9/11 terrorists had IDs. What we want is to somehow check intention; is the person going to do something bad? But we can't do that, so we check IDs instead. It's a complete waste of time and money, and does absolutely nothing to make us safer".

I would strongly suggest that you read the rest of this article.

There has been no obvious reasoned response by either government or opposition to the points raised at: http://www.no2id.net/ and elsewhere, such as by liberty (director of liberty: Shami Chakrabarti ) http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/privacy/id-cards.shtml

The only argument I've heard for ID cards that is hard to refute is "If you have nothing to hide…", and this is hard to refute simply because it is tough to know where to start!

Along with many other topics, this issue makes the conservatives look more and more irrelevant at the moment. Why? They simply seem to be rubber stamping any half thought out idea of this government, such as the rolling use of the anti terror legislation against protestors.

I would dearly like to know, with concrete reasoning, why the conservatives seem to be supporting these proposals.

Yours Sincerely