Saturday, December 01, 2007

It's already happened in the USA...

Idly surfing the interweb I came across an humorous story; you might like to read the whole thing (which has enough amusement value to be worthwhile) at

Here's the bit that got to me, though, and raised my hackles about the ID debate. The author is shopping in a normal shop for a bottle of cold medicine and some ice cream:

"...I elected to go through the self check-out lane because the group of kids who normally jockeyed the registers looked thoroughly engrossed in a conversation about their parents sucking or their jobs sucking or who de-friended them on myspace recently or whatever and I didn’t want to interrupt them. Besides, I have two fully functioning arms. I am capable of scanning and bagging my own ice cream.

However, after I scanned my items, the computer started beeping.

“You have selected an age restricted item. Please wait for a cashier,” it said.

“What the Hell?” I mused, “Ice cream and Nyquil is age restricted now?”

A teenager with a lip piercing and bad dye job came rushing over. “Can I see your ID?” she chirped.

“What did I order that needs ID?” I asked.

She looked over my purchases and shrugged. “I guess it’s the NyQuil.”

I sighed deeply and handed her my driver’s license. She glanced at it quickly, typed my birthday into the computer, handed it back, and scurried away. Even though I didn’t show it, I was all kinds of annoyed.

I mean, what kind of nanny state am I living in right now? I can’t even buy cold medicine anymore without the government all up in my shit? Why is my right to privacy being invaded in favor of incompetent police officers who lack the ability to catch drug dealers without spying on the average law abiding citizen?"

Now I would guess that the US government has made all sorts of statements about liberty and freedom for individuals and probably didn't really want lots of information about who's buying simple remedies for everyday ailments; the retailer, though, for some reason felt it necessary to "protect itself", just in case. The retailer could now prove that it had only sold something responsibly.

If and when our lot bring in their "National Security Database" and ID cards we will all be assured that there's no compulsion to carry the ID. I'll bet that we'll be unable to buy certain everyday goods without swiping the new bits of privacy invading plastic in front of some snotty adolescent or stroppy jobsworth, though. And each swipe will go onto a permanent record. A permanent trail of where you've been and what you've bought.

Think about alcohol. Retailers have to be licenced and have to show that they are responsible in selling alcohol. What's going to happen is that every time you go the the local Co-op for a bottle of something or to buy a packet of tobacco, you'll have to prove your ID.

In that way the government will be able to claim that there's no compulsion, when in reality we won't be able to function without giving all sorts of people a great deal of information about ourselves whether we want to or not.

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