What’s behind the ID card proposal? A proto-totalitarian attempt to keep track of our every move? No. It’s just business, stoopid.
According to the ever vigilant Corporate Watch there are a lot of corporations lining up to bid for the contracts under the ID card scheme. There is a lot of money at stake — a massive £18 billion is the estimated cost of the scheme.
Some of these firms have a less than impressive track record in IT projects. They include:
• EDS — which last year had to pay out £71 million compensation to HM Revenue and Customs over its catastrophic introduction of the tax credits scheme.
• Siemens Business Services — responsible for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate computer system which was scrapped after costing around £80 million.
But the best contender has to be Unisys. They were involved in a national ID card system in Panama until their contract was terminated in 2002. That followed security breaches — one man was found with 500 blank high-tech digital cards!
There are plenty of potential profits to be made with the collected data. The government swears it will never “sell on” the data it collects through the scheme. However Immigration Minister Tony Mc Nulty told the BBC that banks would be able to verify card details against a database — for a fee!
Given the ineptness of the companies who may be manufacturing UK ID cards, the scheme may crash and burn. They’ll find a way to keep track of us though.
Perhaps implanting us with radio transmitters is the answer. Bosses in American have already begun to do this to their workers — people who have been cleared to go into secure areas, vaults and so on. Other proposed uses are on mentally ill and senile people.
As George Monbiot pointed out in the Guardian, it is the “creeping purpose” of the chips that is worrying.
“At first the tags will be more widely used for workers with special security clearance. No one will be forced to wear one… then hospitals will start scanning their unconscious or incoherent patients to see whether they have a tag. Insurance companies might start to demand that vulnerable people are chipped…’
And so the list goes on. It’s a brave new world order.
Excuses go up in smoke
Never trust the oil companies. Last year an explosion at the Buncefield fuel depot caused the biggest fire in Europe since the Second World War. The oil industry say that the accident was a one off.
Not so said Radio Four’s programme, File on Four. The fire is very similar to previous fires in the US and the Netherlands. And those fires should have served as warnings about the layout of sites and the proximity to homes and offices.
The Buncefield accident happened at 6 o’clock in the morning on a Sunday. If it had happened while nearby offices were full of workers hundreds of people could have been killed.
writing is not allowed
In the US, Laura Berg, a clinical nurse specialist at the Veterans Affairs Medical Centre in Albuquerque, has been accused by her employers of “sedition”. This is because she wrote a letter, identifying herself as a veterans nurse, to a local paper, criticising, among other things, the government Hurricane Katrina relief operation. Her work computer was seized to back up the charge. But after finding no trace of the letter on the computer the management (Berg works for a government agency) persisted with the charge.
The charge of “sedition” has naturally got Berg and others scared, for her job, and possibly her liberty. Fortunately the sedition charge appears to be completely unconstitutional.
Swearing is not allowed
Unfortunately there are few check or balances on UK police powers these days.
One particular policewoman was so pleased with her power to stop, charge, prosecute and fine anyone she fancies, that she issued 18 year old Kurt Walker with a fixed penalty notice, a fine of £80. Kurt’s crime? He said fuck to a mate.
Kurt was on his way home, met a friend in the street, who asked “what’s up”, and he replied “fuck all”. A desultory conversation we have all had. A word that is used millions of times a day by thousands of people, in everyday conversation.
But according to Kent Police, swearing is a crime under the Public Order Act. All they have to do now is outlaw thinking. There’s a crime the the police will be happy to crack down on.