Blair spews more curious rhetoric over the evil-bad-guy-ness of ID cards, claiming that they will hold 'less than store card'. The usual annoyingly retrogressive assumptions about the nature of politics persist, though:
- Comparing ID cards to store cards further reveals just how Blair thinks about Government - as a company, with citizens not as citizens but as consumers. While he may be coming from a viewpoint of "efficiency" and yadda, there are hugely important differences between the two, such as oh I don't know, access to a Police force maybe? Control over market failures? Any amateur economist will happily sum up the differences between how a market is assumed to work (though not necessarily how they do work) and where, at least under a capitalist policy, Government steps up to "fill in the gaps". The split between ID cards as a personal artefact of governance (i.e. between the government and you, just you), and as a social artefact (i.e. between the government and the whole of the governed) needs to be emphasised increasingly.
- Blair shuffles into the "sharing data is good" spiel. I notice he drops in a part on safeguards - "and we do need to make sure that;s subject to debate, proper scrutiny". Uh huh. And so far these safeguards have been subject to... uh... how much proper (i.e. un-spun) debate? Quick Martha, I can feel my Bayesian Learning kicking in.
- Ha, what a fantastic quote: "in every other walk of life the technology is being used to enhance service, in the public service we put down a barrier." Perhaps Blair should read Danah Boyd's thoughts on walls. The question is not just "should we just make things more efficient for government?" The questions include issues about freedom and privacy. Which walls do we want?
Secondly, it also seems that Blair hasn't really been following all the hoohah over DRM and IP control (or is selective about his morals here - oh wait, yeah, I go with that). Walls are being constructed with technology all the time, to control markets, to control economies. From an efficiency point of view, bringing down walls can make things extremely smooth, lubricated. But again, what do we lose when we chase after efficiency?
- Further proof that Blair is unwilling to actually debate with and listen to people on this one comes at the bottom of the article, regarding nationally shared medical data: "if you're taken ill in a different part of a country from where your GP is you can access immediately the details of someone's health care, what drugs they may need or want to use." The option - that such data is held in the hands of the concerned - seems to have been ruled out. Centralisation is, apparently, the only way to achieve data transferral. With regard to ID cards, this is similar to "why not just have a card with your data on?" - an argument that I haven't heard a pro-ID politician answer in any meaningful way,e ver. Blair envies the supermarkets. Blair wants to know who you are.