Feeds

ID card doubts - Blunkett blames dead German philosopher

I think, therefore who am I?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Home Secretary David Blunkett said today that the German philosopher Immanuel Kant is to blame for scepticism about the government's plans for a compulsory national identity card. He was speaking at a meeting at the Institute of Public Policy Research, restating his arguments in favour of the scheme.

The British public's fear of ID cards is down to our "history of legitimate doubts about the intentions of the state, reinforced by what we saw in terms of communism and fascism over the last century", Blunkett said. "It was writers like Kant who first took the view that there is something suspicious about government activity, and that if a government is up to something, it must be about removing freedoms."

Nothing could be further from the truth, he argues. In fact, the ID card will pave the way for a more tolerant society, with greater social cohesion. It will be useful in the fight against racism, and won't be a big-brother style surveillance tool, at all. It is now time to take on the sceptics, and those who argue that the government's intentions cannot be taken at face value, he says.

Trust us. We're nice.

"We can build in systems, unlike the private sector, that protect us from encroachment on those areas of our lives that are private," he said.

The private sector reference is one of the central themes in his new approach. He explains that since we all quite happily sign over our personal information, details of spending habits and so on to the private sector when we sign up for loyalty cards, we shouldn't really have any objection to the idea of an ID card.

Of course this is daft - loyalty cards only track your spending habits with one particular store, or group of stores, or maybe partners. They are also subject to data protection laws that restrict what the companies can do with the data they gather. Don't misunderstand this point, we are not arguing in favour of loyalty cards, per se, just pointing out that they don't track your medical history, travel in and out of the country, access to state benefits, criminal record or even necessarily your address.

Blunkett has certainly changed the tone of his approach. He is far more conciliatory, putting forward a picture of a benevolent government, with much less of the usual scare mongering. He has acknowledged that an ID card will not put an end to crime, organised or otherwise, nor will it prevent terrorist attacks. He is back to describing the card in terms of the services it will allow access to, rather than as the killer weapon in the fight against terrorism.

Instead, he proposes that the card will build social cohesion, by ensuring that access to "free" public services, like medical care, is granted only to those who are entitled to it. This, Blunkett argues, will help in the fight against racism. After all, who could possibly object to Johnny Foreigner when he is provably only using the public services he's allowed to use. Xenophobes are known to be receptive to rational argument, after all.

His argument for having one in the first place is simple: the biometric gathering and technology development is going to happen anyway, because of the need for biometric passports. We need these because otherwise going to America would mean having to pay for a $100 visa per person per trip, which is inconvenient, and expensive. And once the groundwork is laid, why not do the extra little bit of work needed to build a secure database and issue the cards? It'll only cost £15 per person on top of the fee for the passport.

The timeline on the march towards compulsory cards is also getting clearer. Once plenty of people have signed up, the government can put an order before parliament that it be made mandatory, which Blunkett wants to have happen within the next ten years. ®

Related stories

Blunkett explains your terror nightmares - be very afraid
Selling surveillance - has Blunkett got a deal for you
The Great 'standalone' ID card Swindle
UK.gov database 'rationalisation', the ID scheme way

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?