Tuesday, August 17, 2004

3 times as good?

While many people seem to think that a single point of identification will make access to public services easier and less bureaucratic, my faith in such a utopia is under fire from news such as this: NHS patients will need 3 cards - one European one, one NHS one, and the Home Office's wunderkind. Now, perhaps the NHS will gradually integrate theirs with the Home Office's, and perhaps once Mr Blunkett's proven the validity, plausibility and effectiveness of it all, Europe will start to integrate with it too... (Mmm, EU-wide identity scheme, nice.)

My personal opinion is that their are far larger obstacles within public organisations to achieving less bureaucracy and more efficiency...

Meanwhile, lots of sources (e.g. BBC, ePolitix, Register) have been picking up on Information Commissioner Richard Thomas' interview in the Times (subscription-only), and his warnings over a "surveillance society." Although, by the looks of things, he's been mentioning this for a while, now. Still, good to see the media giving it big splashes.

There's a fair amount of critical momentum surrounding the issue now, which can only be a good thing. The difficult step is getting rational points across to people that have already been sold the idea of a "safe" society amongst all kinds of bogeymen. There are still far too many people out there who would rather lock the rest of the population up, or lock themselves up, in order to avoid dealing with problems many of which we should collectively take responsibility for. Those of you who've seen the final series of Buffy and laughed at the idea of "destroying the evil inherent in the world" know what I mean ;)

I can see the government finally recognising that this could become a real issue, just as with foundation hospitals, university fees and war. If they're sensible, they'll be reviewing the various criticism currently forthcoming, and making serious efforts to either a). get their plans in order first before spouting how good they are - although mainly to appease the critics, or b). implementing a much lesser identity scheme that seeks to partially achieve the intended goals. What I've yet to see from this government is any admission that There's More Than One Way To Do It, or that popular, dissenting, informed opinion has any sway in politics.

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