Friday, June 17, 2005

London Assembly tells Government to review its plans

The London Assembly and the SNP are both raising voices over the proposed ID card bill. Justice Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP says:

"Instead of this wasted measure, Scotland could put this money to good use and have 1500 community police officers on the street, making a real and difference to communities up and down the country"

which is a constantly-made, but interesting point, that hasn't really been looked at. Comparing an ID system to more officers could be considered as comparing apples to oranges. The plausible benefits of ID cards that don't make me shiver - more efficient processes, effectively - are obviously something you wouldn't get just be adding more community officers on the street.

But everything's swings and roundabouts. The proposal for more community officers intrigues me for one reason - the word "community" in there. Under a nation-wide ID scheme, the running of people's daily lives - their interactions with the state and with each other - are wholely intercepted, and the responsibilities and organisation of groups and individuals everywhere becomes intricately bound up with a (relatively) very small number of people in London.

The government wants, supposedly, to encourage respect, democratic participation and local decision making. Yet this scheme would indicate that they want anything but people in charge of their own lives. This ID system is the ultimate banner for a government that is afraid of its own people, and that lacks the trust to let them run themselves.

I've added the LA recommendation to my list of ID scheme reports, which admittedly is missing a few months...

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