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04 March, 2011

Identity cards. Do we really need them?

By Roy Wood

The Home Office has triumphed yet again with another half-hearted attempt at legislation that once dissected, means absolutely zilch.

I have had enough of watching Jacqui Smith’s expression on our screens, face looking like a smacked bottom, desperately trying to convince the electorate that she is telling the truth.

According to our Home Secretary, this ID scheme will be imperative in the fighting of crime and terrorism. OK, so it has presumably been well thought out, hasn’t it ?

Now it doesn’t need rocket science to work out that because the introductory scheme in Manchester is not compulsory, we’re hardly going to be swamped by queues of terrorists and crooks in post offices all over the country, waiting to supply their fingerprints to the authorities. So it cannot be effective in significantly reducing crime.

Any police officer will tell you that their biggest problem has always been linking these crimes to the perpetrators, rather than simply trying to identify the individuals in the first place. As far as terrorism goes, since we became part of the EU and our borders have been opened up to all and sundry, terrorists can easily move across borders using tourist visas (or even very good forgeries) which can be deemed as legitimate identification.

Let’s be honest. This is yet more unnecessary, and expensive, Labour legislation.

Surely the Government already has in place a facility to detect people who use multiple identities in order to evade tax? The police must also have under surveillance those people who change their identity in order to perpetrate fraud. MI6 already has specific data on terrorist factions. The spooks are not stupid.

In fact, as time goes on, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Government wished to keep adding more personal information to our databases, thus making privacy a thing confined only to the history books.

But, let’s face it, the Government doesn’t exactly have an impeccable record when it comes to taking care of our personal data. They are still allowed to download sensitive material onto their personal laptops, which have so far been discovered on a train or in the back of a taxi by some honest boy scout. We might not be so lucky next time.

Are we really gullible enough as a nation to want to put these people in charge of our personal stuff? So what if I lost my ID card? Easy thing to do – people lose their phones and cards, or have them stolen, on a regular basis. I would immediately be treated with suspicion, and be inconvenienced by being denied goods or services until my card could be replaced and reinstated. This may take weeks, as it is likely to happen to quite a lot of us.

In that time card thieves and fraudsters would in possession of our identity. What an absolute catastrophic mess that would be.

The scheme could also be wide open to forgery. Remember, the cards would originally need to be issued on the basis of providing ID in the first place, such as a driving licence or birth certificate. I already have this documentation. Why the hell do I need to go out and spend another sixty quid on even more ID?

It is also estimated that in order to keep the National Identity Register up to date, the charges for these cards could end up costing in the region of £95 to even £300. I know that these things are supposed to include fingerprints and an iris reading. But surely this would only be needed when travelling abroad, so why not include them in your passport?

ID cards could very well inconvenience our normal everyday existence. Surely you wouldn’t need to supply your fingerprints to purchase a jacket from Topshop? But if you were a young person, you could very well be refused the goods if you were unfortunate enough to have lost your ID card.

We all know that the Government dare not allow the British public a referendum on ID cards, because they would lose big time. I would have preferred to write something humorous in this column, but it’s just not funny, is it?

“Oh bugger! Lost my card – may need to get a hand transplant and some new eyeballs before I can go into Matalan.”

(This article was written by rock legend Roy Wood for the Sunday Mercury Times in UK, even though the article says it was written by Paul Cole. I have personally emailed Paul Cole and he admitted it was written by Roy Wood. Although he assured me via email on December 15, 2010 that he would have the byline changed, he has not done so. – Joan d’Arc)
tojoan d'Arc

dateWed, Dec 15, 2010 at 5:07 AM
subjectRe: campaign to take your name off Roy Wood's article "Identity cards are another invasion of privacy."


Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

The article, of course, IS written by Roy Wood, for whom we successfully campaigned to get his place on the Walk Of Stars.

I have asked my digital team to remedy the situation.


Paul Cole
Executive Editor
Sunday Mercury
BPM Media
Sixth Floor
Fort Dunlop
Fort Parkway
B24 9FF

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