This afternoon, I did our weekly shop via Sainsbury’s To You, my personal choice of supermarket. It took less time than it normally takes to cycle there, and it’s not that far. This is because Sainsbury’s have, via my Nectar Card, my shopping preferences on file, and therefore presented me with a list of things I usually buy when I logged in, and this was Good. Selling my personal information to Sainsbury’s for a pot of messages that make my life easier is considered Non Harmful, and if it gives them better information on how an English white male aged 21-25 living in Hertfordshire and working in the IT Industry chooses to buy his groceries, then it’s a damn site better than them phoning me up on a Sunday to ask.
Last month I tried to open a bank account. Since I currently have no passport, don’t drive – and my provisional license is paper rather than photo card – and don’t work for a company that issues ID cards, I couldn’t prove my identity sufficiently to open a new account. Despite already having an account with them. The ID I presented in order to rent a house for a year consisted of my Rail card.
The reason I don’t have a passport or a National Insurance card is because I was so scared of losing them I put them in a safe place. Fortunately I have no legal requirement to carry them.
Linking the above is the new ID card legislation. As can be inferred from the above, I have no objection to being tracked within systems, and would welcome a standard way of proving who I am. My problem with the idea of an ID card is threefold:
- It’s too dangerous to lose.
- I don’t want to be tracked across systems
- I’m a terrorist
Deadly serious about all of those, btw.
It’s too dangerous to lose
I’m the least organised person on the face of the planet. I’d lose my shadow if I wasn’t careful. I currently don’t have a passport or National Insurance card, and I haven’t left the house alone in four days because I’m not sure where my keys are. If someone finds my ID card before I do, they can effectively pretend to be me. All this “Biometric” stuff is all very well, even if it works, but unless you issue everyone who wants to check an ID card with a Biometric scanner, it’s still just a photo card. And if you do, you have to validate it, which would mean hooking up to a centralised database, and…
I don’t want to be tracked across systems
I don’t mind if Sainsbury’s know I order Cottage Cheese every so often, usually when I order Baked Potatoes, or that I tend to buy chocolate in the winter. I don’t even mind if British Airways know that I’m the same person who sat in row C8 last month on this flight, and have therefore seen this movie. I don’t even care if Warner Village Cinema can tell that I will go out of my way to see comic book adaptations and anything by Quentin Tarantino. What I don’t want is for British Airways to know I’ve seen this movie because I saw it on release at a Warner Village Cinema, or for Sainsbury’s to stop selling me Jelly Tots because there’s a history of diabetes in my family, or for my GP to recommend me to a psychiatrist because I bought six boxes of sleeping pills, or because I bought “So you’re considering suicide?” from Amazon. I’m quite capable of looking after myself, and even if I wasn’t, I’ve a right to do so anyway.
You may think this is an overreaction, that commercial entities would never be given this data. You’d be wrong, because the ID card management is being hawked out to private contractors, who are commercial entities.
I’m a terrorist
The last time I looked – and it’s been a little while now – I can currently be arrested for five separate offences under various anti-terrorism acts. All of these were noted when they passed, but each time the public was told “But don’t worry, we won’t prosecute”, unless you’re a “terrorist”, presumably.
These offenses include losing the password to an encrypted file, having a working knowledge of chemistry, not having a bouncers license, and knowing where both Homebase (DIY/Garden centre) and Sainsbury’s are.
Just because they “won’t prosecute” does not mean they can’t if they want to, and a single point of ID enables them to track this.
But, after five years of detailing my life on an internationally accessible web site, I’ve got nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to fear.