From BlogComments/108300254470114198 on http://blahsploitation.blogspot.com/20040426blahsploitationarchive.html#108300254470114198
Phil, I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences with ID cards in Brazil, although I guess that the reasons/technology/attitudes adopted in any country that adopts them is going to be different to anywhere else (but then, maybe this is why I'm so interested ;)
Do you find that the card makes certain processes more efficient? Are they used for an "efficiency" purposes (i.e. to gain access to services rather than to prove you're not acting suspiciously)? Have there been any cases of fraud involving the card? Were you charged 50 quid as a formal thing, or was it more of a "backhander" thing by which whichever-policeman-on-duty-at-the-time could get a bit of extra cash? (Not to cast any aspersions on the Brazilian police force, naturally, but I'm aware that in many areas of the world, such practice is pretty common, even without any cards.) If you have your fingerprints on the card, does that mean fingerprinting is commonplace? Are the fingerprints/anything else stored in a central database?
There are obvious differences between existing ID Card schemes and what is being proposed here in the UK - differences mainly pointed out by Mr Blunkett himself. For instance, the amount to which card/biometric-reading technology is widespread and relied upon and, as such, how dependent on the card people are. (And, as the current trend tends to be towards hailing technology as a magic answer to all the world's evils, expect the use of such identification technology to increase here - for "efficiency purposes".) There are also underlying differences in attitude towards such identification schemes, which is really the issue here. I'm still trying to work out how to debate attitudes rather than technology, even when the technology is clearly unproven. The attitude here seems to be driven by fear more than anything else - politicians' and the public's fear that something could happen to them - but without any real look at the underlying problems, or any truly sustainable solutions. It appears that taking a good long look at ourselves is a feat beyond our capability, so it's down to other solutions to dam up the culmination of our own actions. Hum.
Just downloaded the 120-page draft bill, so hoping to print it out and have a good gander this week...
Do you find that the card makes certain processes more efficient?
Of course not! :-) In what circumstances might having to prove my identity make things more efficient than if they just trusted me? I dunno, maybe when we bought our flat we showed our IDs and without them, the lawyers would have had to do a background, credit check or something. But that's a slightly imponderable question. Also I've applied for other code numbers, like a CPF number (which lets me have a bank account) and my work card (like my P45), and each time there was a lot of cross-referencing with my ID. I showed all of these when I signed on with the agency who technically employ me while I'm working for the government too.
Were you charged 50 quid as a formal thing, or was it more of a "backhander" thing by which whichever-policeman-on-duty-at-the-time could get a bit of extra cash?
No, it was quite legit. The guy took me away to his secret room, printed out three copies of a standard letter, made me sign them, and gave me one, instructing me to turn up at the local police station and pay the fine when I returned to Brazil. I think I had 14 days to pay when I got back to the country.
If you have your fingerprints on the card, does that mean fingerprinting is commonplace? Are the fingerprints/anything else stored in a central database?
Only for legal stuff, like when I got married ;-) I've had two copies made using ink-and-paper. One set are lodged at a local notary (soliciter), and the other at the police-station. (This is the federal police center which covers the whole of Brasilia.) I suppose my database record, indexed by my ID number, says where the authorities can find it. Or maybe it's been digitized behind the scenes.
There are also underlying differences in attitude towards such identification schemes, which is really the issue here. I'm still trying to work out how to debate attitudes rather than technology, even when the technology is clearly unproven.
Two stories which surprised me. Once Gisel was asked at the local cinema to show her ID. Didn't happen any other time, so I don't know what that was about. My nephews, who are 12 and 14 have to show their ID to prove their age at the cinema. (Note, I told this story when I responded to a UK government call for opinions on ID cards. Doesn't seem to have cut much ice.)
Another time we went clubbing and the club wanted our IDs. (And typed our numbers into their computer system.) I suspect it was just collecting demographics for market research. Or maybe it was a security thing in case we started trouble. I haven't been back there, but it seemed normal procedure.
I also have to show ID or passport to get onto internal flights, but I'm normally travelling from UK anyway, so I tend to show my passport.
Strikes me that ID cards are more about "illegal" immigration than anything else. Further proof that while capital is free to trot around the globe, labour isn't going to be allowed to.
Strikes me that ID cards are more about "illegal" immigration than anything else.
Here, at least, the reason for their introduction [changes http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/04/27/ncard27.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/04/27/ixhome.html changes according to what day it is] and what speech a politican is giving. There seems to be plenty of gushing over the potential uses of such tracking technology, without any real claims over who will have access to what information. I suspect, however, that if those in charge wish to twist the technology to new purposes, then it will get easier to do so as the process becomes the norm. (Whether or not similar attention to security details is considered we obviously have yet to see. Ditto for whether or not it has an effect, or merely acts as a displacement.)
It's a shame that the majority of the public haven't had the "pleasure" of working with government IT services (the "I" stands for "Bureaucracy", as does the "T"). Maybe if the public sector knew how to organise itself then maybe we'd get efficientW working public IT projects. As it is, there are a whole heap of social and political obstacles to this whole faff that need to be cleared, let alone a debate on whether or not it's the right thing to do. (Hmm, organisation, technology and ethics. And they want this all done by when?)
I don't mind the idea that the government wants to have a 'primary key' that they use to refernce me in all their databases. I also don't mind them using biometrics to validate that their primary key does indeed reference a single real person. What I mind is the idea that a) I'd be breaking the law if I wasnt carrying a particular piece of plastic b) govt is able to use face recognition biometrics linked up with the CCTV network to track who is where all day !!!
See also AboutReputation, IndividualRecognition, Brasilia, LabourParty