This was written originally by Frances Stonor Saunders. Frances Stonor Saunders is the former arts editor of The New Statesman, author of The Cultural Cold War, Diabolical Englishman and The Devil's Broker and was awarded the Royal Historical Society's William GladstoneMemorial Prize. She lives in London.
"You may have heard that legislation creating compulsory ID Cardspassed a crucial stage in the House of Commons. You may feel that ID cards are not something to worry about, since we already have Photo ID for ourPassport and Driving License and an ID Card will be no different to that. Whatyou have not been told is the full scope of this proposed ID Card, andwhat it will mean to you personally.
The proposed ID Card will be different from any card you now hold. It will be connected to a database called the NIR, (National IdentityRegister), where all of your personal details will be stored. This will includethe unique number that will be issued to you, your fingerprints, a scan ofthe back of your eye, and your photograph. Your name, address and date ofbirth will also obviously be stored there.
There will be spaces on this database for your religion, residencestatus,and many other private and personal facts about you.There is unlimited space for every other details of your life on theNIR database, which can be expanded by the Government with or withoutfurther Acts of Parliament.
By itself, you might think that this register is harmless, but youwould be wrong to come to this conclusion. This new card will be used to check your identity against your entry in the register in real time, whenever you present it to 'prove who you are'.
Every place that sells alcohol or cigarettes, every post office, everypharmacy, and every Bank will have an NIR Card Terminal, (very muchlike the Chip and Pin Readers that are everywhere now) into which your cardcan be 'swiped' to check your identity. Each time this happens, a record is made at the NIR of the time and place that the Card was presented.
This means for example, that there will be a government record of everytime you withdraw more than £99 at your branch of NatWest, who now demand ID for these transactions.
Every time you have to prove that you are over 18, your card will be swiped, and a record made at the NIR. Restaurants and off licenses will demand that your card is swiped so that each receipt shows that they sold alcohol to someone over 18 and that this was proved by the access to the NIR, indemnifying them from prosecution.
Private businesses are going to be given access to the NIR Database. Ifyou want to apply for a job, you will have to present your card for aswipe. If you want to apply for a London Underground Oyster Card, or asupermarket loyalty card, or a driving license you will have to present your IDCard for a swipe. The same goes for getting a telephone line or a mobile phone or an internet account.
Oyster, DVLA, BT and Nectar (for example) all run very detaileddatabases of their own. They will be allowed access to the NIR, just as everyother business will be. This means that each of these entities will be ableto store your unique number in their database, and place all your travel,phone records, driving activities and detailed shopping habits under yourunique NIR number.
These databases, which can easily fit on a storage device the size of your hand, will be sold to third parties either legally or illegally. It will then be possible for a non-governmental entity to createa detailed dossier of all your activities. Certainly, the government will have clandestine access to all of them, meaning that they will have a complete record of all your movements, from how much and when you withdraw from your bank account to what medications you are taking, down to the level of what sort of bread you eat, all accessible via a single unique number in a Central database.
This is quite a significant leap from a simple ID Card that shows yourname and face. Most people do not know that this is the true character and scope of the proposed ID Card. Whenever the details of how it will work areexplained to them, they quickly change from being ambivalent towards it.
The Government is going to COMPEL you to enter your details into theNIR and to carry this card. If you and your children want to obtain orrenew your passports, you will be forced to have your fingerprints taken and your eyes scanned for the NIR, and an ID Card will be issued to you whether you want one or not.
If you refuse to be fingerprinted and eye scanned, you will not be able to get a passport. Your ID Card will, just like your passport, not be your property. The Home Secretary will have the right to revoke or suspend your ID at any time, meaning that you will not be able to withdraw money from your Bank Account, for example, or do anything that requires you to present your government issued ID Card.
The arguments that have been put forwarded in favour of ID Cards can beeasily disproved. ID Cards WILL NOT stop terrorists; every Spaniard hasa compulsory ID Card as did the Madrid Bombers. ID Cards will not'eliminate benefit fraud', which in comparison, is small compared to theastronomical cost of this proposal, which will be measured in billions according to the LSE (London School of Economics).
This scheme exists solely to exert total surveillance and control overthe ordinary free British Citizen, and it will line the pockets of thecompanies that will create the computer systems at the expense of your freedom, privacy and money.If you did not know the full scope of the proposed ID Card Schemebefore and you are as unsettled as I am at what it really means to you, tothis country and its way of life, I urge you to email or photocopy this and give it to your friends and colleagues and everyone else you think should know andwho cares.
The Bill has proceeded to this stage due to the lack of accurate and complete information on this proposal being made public.Together ..., we can inform the entire nation if everyone who receives this passes it on."