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Registered: 08/22/05
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Big Brother Blair
    #5845556 - 07/11/06 03:47 AM (14 years, 9 months ago)

Blair's plan for ID cards for every british citizen makes for truly terrifying reading.

When reading the ID card bill I am constantly struck by its minatory tone - the threats of fines and the general contempt for the average citizen. There's a reason for this. Rather than being something that is designed to help us, the card and the register are, in fact, tools of government control and surveillance. Over and above the information you have supplied at enrolment (please note the voluntary connotations of the word enrolment ) your file on the NIR will build an entire picture of your life - your hospital visits, your children's schools, your driving record, your criminal record, your finances, insurance policies, your credit-card applications, your mortgage, your phone accounts (and, one presumes your phone records), and your internet service providers.

Every time you get a library card, make a hire-purchase agreement, apply for a fishing or gun licence, buy a piece of property, withdraw a fairly small amount of your money from your bank, take a prescription to your chemist, apply for a resident's parking permit, buy a plane ticket, or pay for your car to be unclamped you will be required to swipe your card and the database will silently record the transaction. There will be almost no part of your life that the state will not be able to inspect. And it will be able to use the database to draw very precise conclusions about the sort of person you are - your spending habits, your ethnicity, your religion, your political leanings, your health and even perhaps your sexual preferences. Little wonder that MI5 desired - and was granted - free access to the database. Little wonder that the police, customs and tax authorities welcome the database as a magnificent aid to investigation.

But know this: from the moment the database goes live, we will become subjects not citizens and each one of us will be diminished in relation to the state's power.

Something enormous and revolutionary is about to happen to us. We are giving the most precious part of ourselves to the government, allowing it complete freedom to roam through our privacy. And it's not just to this government, but to the governments of the future, the nature of which we cannot possibly know. And it's not just our privacy - it is the rights and privacy of future generations. While we are comfortable about handing this information over to the state, the citizens of the future may feel strongly about our complacency and our faith in the British government. We have a duty to those people, just as all the people who fought for the rights we enjoy today felt a sense of obligation to us.

The prime minister asks us to trust him and implies that abuse of a database would be unthinkable in Britain. But after the lies before the invasion of Iraq, the revelations of the Hutton inquiry and the evidence about rendition flights using British airspace I would suggest that we treat these sorts of assurances and appeals with the utmost suspicion.

Remember this government's attack on liberty. Remember what we have already lost - the campaign that has diminished defendants rights, introduced punishment without a court deciding that the law has been broken, restricted protest and speech and even assembly. Blair is unabashed about his record and has taken to describing civil liberties as a privilege that may be removed from someone the moment they become a suspect or a defendant.


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