Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cracks appear in the ID ideal

Well, the news that ID cards will have to share old databases is well out and about. See also BBC and the Guardian, which also notes that foreigners living here will be forced to get ID'd, and has a handy timetable of events. Furthermore...
"Mr Reid said that it would also reduce the overall £5.4bn cost of the ID project but declined to give a new estimate, saying it would be reported to parliament next April."
In economic terms, this probably is about "doing something sensible", to quote Reid. And no, it's not a U-turn. What it is, however, should be considered quite blatant function creep: the scheme "voted for" under manifesto commitments (as ill-defined and vaguely publicised as it was) will have nothing whatsoever to do with the final scheme, as bit by bit each pillar of what defined it is taken away, as is happening here.

Bureaucracy has, perhaps, saved our bacon, at least. It is a sad day when one must choose between wasting a lot of money, and using public money to track an entire population, but given that choice, I'd rather waste the money on something that is useless at tracking, than to live in a state controlled from the very top. If democratic politics is a banner we no longer believe in (from all sides), then it seems that economic cracks (inefficiency) and technical loopholes (security flaws) will be the tool of choice in bringing such a scheme down.

The other great thing about this news is that it highlights the database side of the scheme, above and beyond the card aspect. People don't get this facet enough - nor can they, in a sense. The sheer volume of data and vast quantity of accesses to the database(s) should put the fear of all deities into people, but so far they've been blinded by their fear of terrorists and ghosts. By splitting the database into 3, attention should be drawn to which details, exactly, will be stored on each and (hopefully) just what data that is again.

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