People in Manchester can now sign up for an ID card. Let's use the occasion to say a firm no to the database state
I will be making a trip to the Identity and Passport Service's registration centre in Manchester at 1pm today. I will not be registering for an identity card. Instead, I will be joining friends from No2ID and other campaigns in demonstrating against the identity scheme. Our message is simple – "Don't be a guinea pig, stop the ID card con!"
I expect to see more protesters than volunteers at the registration centre; 96% of respondents in a recent Manchester Evening News online poll opposed the scheme. Fewer than 2,000 people in the north-west have "expressed interest" in the ID cards, and that number includes opponents like myself.
Despite lack of interest, the government is still pushing ahead with the scheme, spending £230,000 every day to bring it about. Its current claims are that it is a cheap, convenient way to prove your identity.
An ID card costs £30 initially, compared with £77.50 for your first adult passport – but for now you need a passport to apply for an ID card. Regardless, the ID card scheme costs every taxpayer about £300. It would save money if the government instead gave everyone a free adult passport when they turn 16. The passport cost has also increased from £42 in 2005, only £8 of which can be justified for meeting international standards for the insecure "e-Passports".
I don't need to carry about vast quantities of paperwork with me on a daily basis to prove my identity or address. I rarely need anything more than my bank card to talk to my bank. A card that lives in my wallet is something I'm more likely to lose – and risk the fine for not reporting a lost ID card..
Clearly, I don't want an ID card and shouldn't register. But why am I protesting against it? It's a voluntary scheme, and people can take it or leave it, right?
The ID card may well be voluntary, but the underlying national identity register database reeks of compulsion. Registering for a card means being tracked for life by the largest state database system in the western world, which has no equivalent in European ID card systems.
The Home Office is keeping quiet about the fines for not keeping your information up to date on this database, the vast numbers of faceless bureaucrats who will have access, and their inability to keep it secure. They don't like to remind us that from 2011 we'll be forced on to the database to get a passport, and after that perhaps for a Criminal Records Bureau check, and then ...
I don't think it's fair for the government to trick people into this database state, which is likely to be scrapped after the general election. That's why I'm spreading the word – "Don't be a guinea pig, stop the ID card con!"