Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ID phase three - Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do...

Police in "demanding more powers and interfering in public policy" shocker! Yep, "senior police officers" are reading from the government's ID card script and spreading yet more stories of identity theft, passport forgery and whathaveyou. (And please note how carefully I'm avoiding the phrase "police state". Oh... Damn...)

Because, you see, having got the ID cards bill through parliament, there's still the database to sell. And, starting with a few friendly anonymous police officers mouthing off to the press to make it look like it isn't just Whitehall that's after this thing, they're going to sell it like this:

1) Passports are easy to forge, even after the introduction of watermarking, lamination and machine-readable documents - all designed to make this more difficult
2) Credit cards are also easy to forge, despite electronic security measures
3) The placebo of chip'n'pin, hooking credit/debit cards to some kind of centralised registration computer, makes people feel safer and can help cut down on fraud
4) Therefore a centralised identity register will act as a handy placebo when ID cards inevitably start being forged
Although, naturally, they won't use the word "placebo"... (In my case, chip'n'pin's not even that - I've gone from entering my pin number once every 2-3 days, always at sheltered cash points where I can check if anyone's looking over my shoulder, to entering it at least once a day, usually in crowded shops with no kind of screen to help me shield my number from anyone who happens to be watching - all they then need do is jump me outside, nab the card, nip round the corner to a cash point and empty my account. Which may be why Blair apparently wants us all to have to use ID cards when making withdrawals of £200 or more... Chip'n'pin has actually made electronic theft/fraud even easier.)

Of course, quite why identity theft will be cut back on when all criminals need to do is forge one single form of ID - where currently to achieve anything significant they'd have to forge a passport, bills and sometimes bank records, involving far more effort - has yet to be answered.

But I'm being cynical. Once the Hal 9000 of the National Identity Register is up and running, nothing can possibly go wrong... Labour are already starting to sound like Hal - and not just when it comes to assurances of the ID system's reliability:
"The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error."

"'I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that... This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it."

"Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?"

"Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye."

"I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you. Or else the terrorists will win you'll let the Tories in by the back door you risk letting the BNP into power..."
(I may have made up that final sentence...)

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