Privacy Awards and ID Cards

 by Martin Belam, 29 July 2004

Oh the irony (or should that always now be d'oh the humanity?) of these two stories being published within an hour of each other - Privacy foes named and shamed and UK 'not ready' for ID card scheme

One, a quick round-up of the UK Big Brother* awards from Privacy International, announced that Margaret Hodge had been named and shamed as our worst public servant, and was only able to honour the efforts of David Blunkett by renaming the Lifetime Menace award to the David Blunkett Lifetime Menace Award. I was though deeply frustrated today as the awards were held literally a stones throw from my office (not that I often throw stones out the window you understand), however at the time I was miles away heading to Enfield to enjoy some open-air Shakespeare.

Meanwhile across London at the Royal Institution there was a debate on the proposed introduction of ID cards in the UK, where experts like Neil Fisher from QinetiQ were telling journalists that "the rationale of the Home Office for implementing the scheme - to deter illegal working and tackle immigration abuse, and strengthen the country's security - was in his view all wrong". As ever the discussion revolved around the technology itself, rather than looking at what will always be the weakest link in the chain - the people implementing the technology. Where there are people, there are always innocent mistakes, and not-so innocent opportunities for corruption - and no amount of state imposed biometric measuring is going to change that.

* I should add for those of you who have only landed on this site because you are trying to vote for Jonny to live in Two Pints that this is the use of the term "Big Brother" in its original sense as a metaphor for totalitarianist leaders, rather than in its current sense as a programme about watching exhibitionists shagging on the telly.

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