Feeds

back to article How did something so small and pink cause so much trouble?

Today, we publish the next extract from SA Mathieson's book on ID cards in Britain, following on from the political wrangling over the controversial technology in the 1990s and 2000s. All that remained before the 2010 general election was the Mancunian trial of the new UK identity card. On 30 November 2009, Manchester Evening …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

Finger print readers

OK, the finger print reader on my laptop is probably shit, but it stopped working when I decided to undo a nut and bolt on my car by hand, thus scratching the end of my finger tips. I wonder how good their finger print readers are when instead of dealing with someone with a "desk job" instead they have to deal with someone who does real manual labour?

Of course the planning will be done by some Whitehall mandarin who's never got his hands dirty, but what about the real world?

8
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Re: Finger print readers

Yes they probably should have had iris recognition systems as well.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Finger print readers

And a colon map as a backup.

4
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Re: Finger print readers

:

:

:

:

:

:::::::::::::::::::::::

:

:

:

:

Colon map of my cul-de-sac.

16
0
Silver badge
Holmes

"And a colon map as a backup"

The colon map should have been the default plan. They could have tested it by sticking it up their arses.

10
0

Re: Finger print readers

Butt what happens when the colon backs up?

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Finger print readers

Semicolonoscopy; right?

0
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

The ID card and national database was a role reversal of accountability which would have been a significant step down the road to tyranny. It is not the place of politicians to license the existence of the public. It is the place of the public to license the existence of their politicians.

44
0
Bronze badge
WTF?

Tyranny

Yet the list of countries that already have a National ID card contains many that aren't know for being tyrannical dictatorships?

2
8
Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: Tyranny

In France the paramilitary CRS will come to your town every year and ask teenagers to produce their identity cards. Failure to produce the card results in being hit around the head with a baton.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnies_R%C3%A9publicaines_de_S%C3%A9curit%C3%A9

8
2
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Re: Tyranny

And yet strangely France is one of the countries where ID cards aren't compulsory. Yet more proof perhaps that they aren't necessarily the cause of 'La tyrannie'?

1
6
Silver badge

Re: "the [..] CRS will come to your town every year"

You make it sound like an annual fair or something.

And you forget to mention that the Gendarmerie (whose members are counted among the nations armed forces - just like the army) has offices all over national territory as well.

C'est bon, on avoue : nous sommes bien une dictature !

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Tyranny

To be fair, ID cards are not compulsory in France, but you're being asked for ID often, very, very often. Any official paperwork needs an ID. And a lot of non official one, like for renting a home, opening a bank account, ...

So you get to choose between the ID card or the passport. Driving licenses are somewhat less useful, as they're proof of identity but not of nationality.

That said, I don't really understand what's with the Anglo-Saxons and their hatred of the idea of government-issued proof of identity (implementation details like fingerprints are irrelevant - apparently, any dumb piece of paper with a picture glued on it would be received just as angrily as long as there's a government stamp on it).

1
4

Re: Tyranny

It wasn't the ID card itself that was the problem - it was the National Database it was going to be attached to. The purpose of that was to link all possible government databases and records into one place. Most of the countries being held up as examples of ID cards working fine and being supported by their citizens have specific laws in place to say the the government is not allowed to do that so the ID card only does what it says it does: proves you are who you say you are, that you are a citizen (or have right of residence, etc.) and, perhaps, where you live. Ours would also have allowed "appropriate officials and other authorised parties" access to a whole lot more personal information than that...

19
0
FAIL

Re: Tyranny

Hehe. I wrote to my MP about ID cards, stating very much what you just put there "It's not so much the card I object to, it's the huge database behind the scenes and its massive privacy implications, not to mention all the people you propose giving access to".

Three months later I got a letter back saying "We understand your objections, but this scheme is not just an identity card! There's this huge unified database thingy behind it too! And it'll be accessible to all these public servants!"

All of which made it abundantly clear that no, you did not understand my objections or even read them. Muppets.

18
0
Unhappy

Let's face it...

We're already under a global tyranny of having to carry passports when we want to travel beyond certain invisible borders.

Real freedom would mean real (pre-WW1) freedom of movement. A prison the size of a million football fields is still a prison.

4
0
Bronze badge
Stop

Re: Let's face it...

And now from our department of recycled comments ........

^^^ Fruit loop batshit paranoia

1
8
Silver badge

Re: Tyranny

"In France the paramilitary CRS will come to your town every year and ask teenagers to produce their identity cards. Failure to produce the card results in being hit around the head with a baton.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compagnies_R%C3%A9publicaines_de_S%C3%A9curit%C3%A9"

In the lower photo used on Wikipedia, the CRS look like they have modelled themselves on Judge Dredd. The one in the middle is especially delighted with himself.

0
0
Bronze badge
Stop

Re: Tyranny

You say that as if you feel the CRS hitting teenagers on the head with a baton is a bad thing?

1
0
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: Tyranny

"That said, I don't really understand what's with the Anglo-Saxons and their hatred of the idea of government-issued proof of identity (implementation details like fingerprints are irrelevant - apparently, any dumb piece of paper with a picture glued on it would be received just as angrily as long as there's a government stamp on it)."

Because in some countries there is a historic presumption that no ones identity needs a bit of paper or plastic card linked to a nationwide database to prove who they say they are while they are just walking along a street/sitting in a park/generally existing.

The UK Civil Servants (aided and abetted by whatever sock pocket is pretending to be in charge of the Home Office) also has a very distressing addiction (or fetish) for collecting absurdly broad amounts of personal data.

IOW They just can't be trusted.

8
0
Facepalm

Re: Tyranny

"I don't really understand what's with the Anglo-Saxons and their hatred of the idea of government-issued proof of identity"

Because mind your own business, that's why.

7
0

Re: Tyranny

> And yet strangely France is one of the countries where ID cards aren't compulsory.

Up to a point. You are not required to carry it, but if you don't, you can be held for up to three days while someone fetches it for you.

1
0
Silver badge
Windows

Re: Tyranny

Especially French ones!!!!!

0
0
Silver badge
WTF?

@ Marvin

Yet my "Existence" was "licensed" by the state on the day of my birth, and the cessation of such existence will be "licensed" when I eventually do kark it.

As it is for billions of others across the planet.

All this would have done in real terms, is replace an old document thats easy to lose and forge, with one thats a bit harder.

Shall I call oxford and tell them the definition of the word "Tryany" has changed, or do you want to do it?

0
2

Re: Tyranny

Sounds like a damn good plan.

ID card or not, teenagers are always up to bloody something and could probably use a good dose of clepped lugs on a regular basis.

0
0
Bronze badge

Decisive action and commitment

The success of a scheme like this is dependent on decisive action and commitment to the project.

If you're going to replace a current and working system, a system that has to be known about and recognized by global travel companies and international governments, then you need to commit to it and do it totally and ensure all of the aforementioned parties are aware of it.

Regardless of whether the concept of the ID cards was good or not, the only way it would ever have worked would have been to stop issuing passports and start issuing ID cards instead nationwide, phasing out passports as they expire. Anything less just leads to confusion and a system no-one is properly aware of or understands.

1
1
Bronze badge

Re: Decisive action and commitment

To add to that....no UK government since Thatcher has really been able to make decisive actions and commit to them fully.

10
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Yes

Amen to that one!

1
1
Silver badge
Meh

Re: To add to that...

Which is probably a very good thing.

8
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: Decisive action and commitment

They can't just stop issuing passports. While an ID card might be alright for travel within Europe, I don't think the rest of the world is accepting them.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: Decisive action and commitment

ID cards would only ever be good for travelling around the EU. If you want to go further afield, you are always going to need a passport.

1
0
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: Decisive action and commitment

@Phil W: "phasing out passports as they expire"

- so we'd only be able to travel to countries that don't require a passport?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Decisive action and commitment

If you have ever used a passport you should know they contain many pages for reasons I suppose you do not know either.

0
1
Gold badge
Unhappy

Re: Decisive action and commitment

"To add to that....no UK government since Thatcher has really been able to make decisive actions and commit to them fully."

I think it speaks volumes that following the Brighton bombing I'm quite sure that the usual top level spookocrats would have been telling her "This wouldn't be possible if everyone had to carry an identity card."

And I'm sure if she had believed them we would be carrying them today.

But Thatchers original background was science and I think she dug into the idea enough to see it was rubbish. With the IRA on the verge of shutting down I could not believe Blair's plans to introduce ID cards.

Never trust someone whose only background outside politics is a lawyer. They are a bit too keen on figuring out how to make something happen before asking themselves why we are doing it in the 1st place.

5
0

Re: Decisive action and commitment

I need to amend your statement:

To add to that....no UK government ever has really been able to make decisive actions and commit to them fully.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

After having carried a Hong Kong ID card for a few years now....I'm all for it, provided the cost isn't absurd.

Very convenient...but no doubt the UK could still make a complete hash of biometric border controls.

3
8

The difference between Hong Kong and the UK is geography and distance, in HK, you have one centralised department that issues all ID cards in a single location and all inhabitants of HK live within one hours travel distance to the issuing centre.

This is certainly not the case in geographically dispersed UK, indeed, given recent cuts that have reduced Passport Offices, its now virtually impossible for the UK to embark on a national ID programme, unless all data is collected via mobile offices travelling the length of the UK.

Whilst Hong Kong's ID card scheme has been running for years - my first one issued on my arrival in 1996, the movement to a digital biometric system in the early 2000's was beset by quite a few problems, and indeed what actually to store on such cards given a lack of storage space - not so much the case today.

Is it intrusive, in short, the answer is yes - you are detailed each time you leave and enter the country, and despite the fact that businesses are not supposed to request your ID details, i.e.,, you must produce your card, they seem to believe this is part and parcel of the ID system.

That said, it certainly assists in entering HK, but not in departing, you still need to queue at a desk at you exit port.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

"but not in departing, you still need to queue at a desk at you exit port"...

Not so, they have those automatic gate things even for exiting, unless you are with young children - you know that.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Convenience for you does not justify coercion for everyone who doesn't want it.

I'd love to expand on that, but apparently even mild criticism of your point of view is regarded as an unacceptable personal attack by the moderators, so I'll just have to say that that's my point of view and leave it there.

1
0

> After having carried a Hong Kong ID card for a few years now....I'm all for it, provided the cost isn't absurd. Very convenient.

Even more convenient *not* to carry an ID card.

1
0
Silver badge

Given your ID card is probably sitting in your wallet, with your drivers license and bank cards, and would require some inconvenience to remove from that position, that argument seems a little silly.

0
2
Silver badge
Megaphone

Drifting slightly OT ....

Anyone catch this story about a man with no arms being denied entry to the UK as his biometrics (fingerprints) were not "of sufficient quality" ?

BBC Article

7
0

Re: Drifting slightly OT ....

There was a similar story posted by Bill Bryson about a chap who couldn't get the US authorities to understand that he only had nine fingers. The 'system' wasn't equipped to cope with less than ten prints.

2
0
Facepalm

Re: Drifting slightly OT ....

Obviously it wasn't Dave Allen, or we'd have heard about it from the man himself.

2
0
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Drifting slightly OT ....

Dave Allen would really have thrown that cat amongst the pigeons, who'd have thought to make the field for "Number of fingers" a float.

4
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Drifting slightly OT ....

Having worked on some of those systems I can promise you they are perfectly capable of coping with anyone who has less fingers than the norm.

More likely operator error but it makes a better story if it was the 'system'

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: ID cards aren't a bad idea.

Sorry, but they are a bad idea. This is the UK, and I suspect the reason we haven't had them foisted on us thus far (near misses aside), is that we know in our hearts the British political tendency for mission creep and over reach would come back to haunt us very, very quickly and painfully.

7
0
Bronze badge

Lack of direction

It seems the UK government doesnt even know what it wants to do with the new ID cards.

In the netherlands its mandatory to always carry a form of ID (Drivers licence, ID card or Passport), to be shown to the plod when they have reasonable cause to stop you and suspect you of wrongdoings. The ID card is valid within europe and can be used somewhat like a passport within the EU. For people who will most probably never travel outside of the EU it's much cheaper to just get an ID card instead of a full fledged passport. Especially since it's much easier to carry than a passport.

1
0
Thumb Down

Re: Lack of direction

Since the Netherlands is part of the Schengen agreement, you shouldn't even need a passport to leave or enter from another country in the Schengen area. Sounds like all the uses for ID you mention are invalid.

5
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.