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Just over a month ago, I wrote a piece about the ever increasing amounts of data collection happening. As I suspected would occur, the ID card debate has recently got another push along from the Australian government. At the same time, the British government’s plans for an ID card have been knocked back by their Upper House.

Suggesting an ID card is needed to fight terrorism sounds to me to have about the same value as plastic knives on an aircraft – to quote Amanda Vanstone, “to make people feel better as opposed to actually achieve an outcome.” Setting up a universal ID card system will also cost rather a lot more than a truckload of plastic knives and has much greater privacy risks.

My post last month also raised concern about the prospect of our governments having access to material such as Google search data. This seems to have come one step closer, with a story that the US Justice Department’s has subpoenaed Google for “data about every internet search during a one-week period.”

While it appears the immediate intent of the US government in this case – to try to protect children online – is laudable, I fear the wider consequences could be a huge negative. Internet users in places as diverse as Iran and China already know what it means to have governments watching all online behaviour. The negatives of our governments being able to trawl widely through that sort of information would far outweigh any positives.

ADDENDUM: As many readers would know, the Liberal Party that is currently considering introducing an ID card in Australia is the same Liberal Party (also led at the time by John Howard) that opposed the Australian Labor Party government’s attempt to do the same thing in 1987. In a good example of how politics can be very similar in different countries, I found this quote from 1995 by Tony Blair, then Labour Party leader of the Opposition in the UK:

“Instead of wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on compulsory ID cards as the Tory Right demand, let that money provide thousands more police officers on the beat in our local communities”

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6 Comments

  1. Recently, the ID card has fallen a long way down the UK Labour Party’s list of policy priorities. This is why I found it so surprising, being a temporary Londoner, to see that it had just popped onto the government’s agenda in Australia. Among the hurdles quoted here in the UK are the sheer cost of introducing the cards, along with the associated risks to data. It’s quite heartening to see the hysteria in the UK about terrorism has calmed, and those calmer minds have diverted their attention to debating education policy, which should have a much more useful result than introducing ID cards.

  2. Since it is possible to forge a passport, driver’s licence, medicare card etc, why would anyone think an ID card will be inviolate?
    The only ID cards of any value are those in the possession of law-abiding citizens, and Governments already have access to an enormous amount of information about them.

  3. Important Research Data:
    My wallet is 30mm thick. It contains The following cards:
    Credit card, debit card, gift card, Myer card, Fly Buy card, Answer machine code card, Dentist appt, RSL Membership cards x 2, Leagues Club membership card, Drivers licence, medicare card, Players Club card, NRMA Membership card, Video shop cards x 2, Library Card, Hardware Account Card.
    These 18 cards are essential when I’m out and about. When I take the cards out of my wallet it measures 8mm thick. In order to avoid losing this precious cargo, I keep my wallet in my front pants pocket. This has the advantage of stopping pick pockets and impressing ladies at the same time. I have lost my wallet three times in my life. The first time It was nicked from my coat and twice lost from my back pants pocket. I have never lost it from my front pants pocket because I am always aware it’s there. I want someone out there to invent a card that can store all the data on my 18 cards. If the government can come up with a magic single card to take all this data and pop a number on it for their own use I’ll gladly take it. I can still impress the ladies by using folded socks. If the government can’t do this my ever expanding wallet will eventually burst at the seams and all this precious data will spill out and be lost. Possibly forever. Then I won’t be able to leave the house not even to vote. Wouldn’t that be a shame. No data – no life – I wouldn’t exist.
    Hmmmmm

  4. The Thought By the Government to introduce a iD card shows two things. Number one its worried. Number two they have no idea. I can recall my cousin contacting medi care the feds the government etc years ago waring about the Media Care card and the PR parties. Its a really big deal to be given a health care card when you are from overeas .
    Its free health care and in some cases free ID. If you have a health care card all your friends can use it who dont have one. Its all you need to form a ID as well. When you loose the card you make a free call and its replaced free of charge. Perhaps the Government think it might help with the one million people who are on center link that do not exist. Or maybe they are looking for that 143 year old guy who is still on center link[ greedy bugger] Or the bloke who went on benefits two years after he died. Its enough to swing elections. So maybe they think they can trace people easier with this card.It would put a few crooks back into work i guess. Mmm . Maybe they could use the medi care card as an Id card. Center link by the way claim that overall their system is working well. I am sure it is for the one million people drawing funds who do not even exsist. They must have printed a whole heap of center link reference cards./ now thers a clue speaking of cards.

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